David Cameron Promises To Do Away With 'Safe Spaces' On The Internet

from the treating-everyone-like-terrorists dept

Earlier this year, there were some questions raised when it appeared that UK Prime Minister David Cameron was suggesting that he wanted to undermine all encryption on the internet. Later, some suggested he was looking more at undermining end point security. However, after being re-elected, and apparently believing that this gave him the mandate to go full Orwell, Cameron is making it clear that no one should ever have any privacy from government snoops ever.

Responding to a somewhat nonsensical question about if he believed the recent attacks in Tunisia meant that the big internet companies need to "understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?" Cameron insisted that the UK always needed to be able to read communications. It is, of course, not at all clear what the privacy policies of Google, Facebook and Twitter (the three named by the questioner) have to do with the price of tea in China, let alone the attacks in Tunisia, but... alas:
"We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate. That is the challenge, and it is a challenge that will come in front of the House.

"We have always been able, on the authority of the home secretary, to sign a warrant and intercept a phone call, a mobile phone call or other media communications, but the question we must ask ourselves is whether, as technology develops, we are content to leave a safe space—a new means of communication—for terrorists to communicate with each other.

"My answer is no, we should not be, which means that we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on."
Of course, he also insisted that you regular people shouldn't worry:
"Britain is not a state that is trying to search through everybody’s emails and invade their privacy..."
Except, well, it is. This whole thing seems to be based on the idea that it's blatantly obvious who is a "terrorist" and who is a good citizen of the UK. Cameron can't really be so naive as to think that "terrorists" are somehow easily differentiated from everyday people, can he? Then again, this is the same guy who once pushed for this Snooper's Charter by talking about how fictional TV crime dramas proved it would be a useful tool.

This is extremely troubling. Cameron's desire to undermine encryption is dangerous for the privacy and security of everyone, especially those in the UK that Cameron is supposed to be helping to protect, because lots of people really do need "safe spaces in which to communicate." The only way to take those away for "terrorists" is to take them away for everyone, and that means not just for the purpose of government snooping, but for others as well. Introducing backdoors breaks security and makes everyone much, much, much more vulnerable to all sorts of attacks.

And, again, this is the same guy who said:
For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.... This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.
Does that really sound like someone who will only use such snooping powers to track down terrorists? He's blatantly admitting that he will use it against law abiding citizens, admitting that merely "obeying the law" should not leave you free from being hassled by the government.

These kinds of statements are cartoonishly evil. They're the kind of ridiculous statements one would have hoped you'd only see in late night TV fictional TV dramas, not coming from an actually elected leader of a major western power.

Filed Under: david cameron, encryption, privacy, snooper's charter, uk
Companies: facebook, google, twitter


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:43am

    Somebody ought to point out to him that when you make organised peaceful political change impossible, you end up with violent anarchy, like in the middle east. Authoritarian societies have no mechanism for large scale organization of opposition, so given half a chance, local strong men try to take over as much as they can grab, and fight each other to see who comes out king of the castle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      The leaders are often just as stupid and ignorant as those that elected them into office.

      There will always be the trifecta of human stupidity at play in politics.

      #1. Failure to even learn history.
      #2. Failure to understand human behavior.
      #3. Failure to recognized truth.

      We are often the greatest cause of our own grief and we often times find our fates on the roads we take to avoid them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:48am

    False equivalency

    "We have always been able, on the authority of the home secretary, to sign a warrant and intercept a phone call, a mobile phone call or other media communications[...]


    This argument always makes me a bit angry, because it's a real example of the slippery slope in action.

    Yes, law enforcement could always get warrants to obtain information that exists as a byproduct of providing services. But that's an entirely different thing than requiring people to damage security or gather extra data just so the government can have access.

    In the US, CALEA was the atrocity that blurred these two things and indicated just how perverse the attitude of the government has become. Cameron is taking this notion to next level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A Non-Mouse, 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:53am

    Defining "terrorists"

    "We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate."

    And by "terrorists" he means "anyone who disagrees with us".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bengie, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:48am

      Re: Defining "terrorists"

      Darn USA, terrorist country. We had to overthrow our local government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 7:05pm

      Re: Defining "terrorists"

      Even if we take his statement at face value, there's still the unspoken bit at the end:

      "We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate, by ensuring that there are no safe spaces for communication"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Seegras (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:59pm

        Re: Re: Defining "terrorists"

        The fun thing is, by doing so he will of course also take away HIS OWN (and the governments) safe space for communication as well.

        I'd guess he doesn't realise this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Jul 2015 @ 9:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Defining "terrorists"

          "The fun thing is, by doing so he will of course also take away HIS OWN (and the governments) safe space for communication as well."

          No, they won't. His type always exempt themselves.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:56am

    However, after being re-elected
    Stopped reading right there.

    When the majority has no issue with an elected official to allow them to carry on with their antics, there's no reason to be concerned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:06am

      Re:

      When the majority has no issue with an elected official to allow them to carry on with their antics, there's no reason to be concerned
      When the guy was elected by about 20% of the population and less than 35% of those who bothered to vote, it's hardly a sweeping mandate, is it? And if you disagree with the moron, what's your alternative your election choices are between a gaggle of largely corrupt monkeys?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:27am

        Re: Re:

        The idea that the winner of an election has any sort of mandate from the voters is ridiculous from the outset.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 3 Jul 2015 @ 4:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The idea that the winner of an election has any sort of mandate from the voters is ridiculous from the outset.
          Be fair; the winner usually has a mandate from the "voters" that contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds to his election campaign - the handful of them that are actually British citizens and eligible to vote that is.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jul 2015 @ 9:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Those who didn't vote were actually voting for "none of them".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:00am

    Huge Leap

    Does Cameron not realize what a HUGE leap it is to go from intercepting "a phone call", after obtaining a specific warrant, to intercepting all phone calls, with only a blanket authorization?

    The answer has to be that he does -- he can't be that naive and still have made it to PM -- and that he just doesn't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:01am

    Do you want the terrorists to win?

    We need to take a stand against the enemies of freedom and make sure that there is no place for them to communicate unobstructed in our society.

    Terrorist organizations like "Amnesty International" have no place among the loyal citizens of the United Kingdom. Their goals are not compatible with the values the British government stands for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:21am

      Re: Do you want the terrorists to win?

      Terrorist organizations like "Amnesty International" have no place among the loyal citizens of the United Kingdom.

      Sadly that's where we are going to. Have my insightful vote.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:14am

    These kinds of statements are cartoonishly evil. They're the kind of ridiculous statements one would have hoped you'd only see in late night TV fictional TV dramas, not coming from an actually elected leader of a major western power.

    When reality meets art it seems.

    Good thing he rules the UK and the UK alone so the worst he can do is screw the UK citizens into non-encrypted nightmare. Which can be a good thing. Once one western country collapses under the weight of its own stupidity such ideas may lose traction. Not that I'm advocating that the British people should be thrown under the bus as an example but it could be a good thing.

    (and my fellow Britons, what the fuck were you thinking when you re-elected him??? What are you want to go full blown street protests against this?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Only about 35% of the voters did vote for his party. Using FPTP as a voting method with more than two political parties begs to have this kind of result. It's just that this time has had the worst outcome thus far.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Scotland and freedom, 2 Jul 2015 @ 8:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Scotland had a path to freedom from this mess and voted it down. I wonder if they regret their vote against independence now?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2015 @ 2:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It was a case of whether the were ruled by a little tyrant, or whether a bigger tyrant kept the little one on a leash. The SNP supporters did themselves no favours during the campaign by vandalizing the opponents posters which did not install confidence in their rule if let off of the leash..

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:22am

    Getting rid of online "safe spaces?". Is this some cheap attempt to pander to the anti-SJW crowd or something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jigsy, 2 Jul 2015 @ 10:26am

    As someone who was born and raised in the UK, the UK is... a lost cause.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:03am

    This whole thing seems to be based on the idea that it's blatantly obvious who is a "terrorist" and who is a good citizen of the UK. Cameron can't really be so naive as to think that "terrorists" are somehow easily differentiated from everyday people, can he?


    Cameron does think this. His test is based almost entirely on skin colour.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 2 Jul 2015 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      Cameron will be able to better differentiate terrorists from everyday people once there is security camera coverage of the voting booths.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:16am

    We should apply Cameron's security ideas to banks, seeing as terrorists and criminals hide their assets there.

    Instead of things being securely locked up in a bank vault, back doors must be built into the bank's vault. That way 'law enforcement' can access the bank vault at any time without the bank's knowledge, and seize any 'illegal' assets or 'evidence' of crime and terrorism.

    Sure it'll increase the risk of bank robbers using the back doors to steal your money. But if you're concerned about that then you must be a 'terrorist' or 'terrorist sympathizer' already, and we'll have to 'search' your assets for 'evidence'. I think a pile of over $10,000 sitting in your bank account is more then enough evidence that any critics of this move are really drug dealers or money launderers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:22am

    No, its a place where the upper class not only laughs at the plebs but even rubs in their face that the commoners law doesnt apply to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:33am

    Math Thought

    Let's assume for one moment that he is kind of correct. They in theory have a program that finds terrorist with a success rate of 99.9%. That's darn near perfect and with such a high success rate his statement would be valid.

    But even with this magical tool what about those 0.1%?
    The UK has a population of around 64 mio.
    0.1% are 64'000 people who might be wrongly accused of being terrorists.

    I hope I made a mistake because that seems kind of frightening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DigDug, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:43am

      Re: Math Thought

      Apply that to the world population of over 7 billion...

      That's 7 Million people that are either wrongly accused or terrorists overlooked - more certainly a mix of the 2.

      With numbers like that, may as well forget about the program, it won't do you any good, because statistically speaking, the ones they mistakenly arrest will now be looking for vengeance, and the ones they miss will kill hundreds of thousands or millions of people.

      It would be better to go old school and track these rabid dogs down and excise them from the population.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re: Math Thought

        But how would we govern ourselves after we killed off most of our politicians?

        Maybe if we killed off half of them as a warning to the rest screwing things up and ruining lives for their own financial gain.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 3:08pm

      Re: Math Thought

      It's worse than that.

      Let's say that 1 in 10,000 people are terrorists.

      That's 640 people, of which you catch (with 99.9% accuracy) all but one.

      However, your false positives outnumber your true positives by a factor of 10:1.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MrTroy (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 7:14pm

        Re: Re: Math Thought

        aka- throw 6400 innocent people under the bus to catch 639 terrorists, and hope the remaining 1 doesn't do anything too drastic.

        I wonder, of those few terrorists that weren't stopped by regular police work, would they have ruined more than 6400 lives?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:33am

    hes already part way there with the blocking and banning of web sites he's put in operation for the Entertainment Industries. he's turned the UK into the 'China of the EU and most importantly, taken away any semblance of a nation that embraced Freedom and Privacy above all else! he'll never get it back and it's gonna be damned hard for anyone else who follows him to do. that is, i suppose, if Freedom and Privacy ever become things to be revered again above terrorism. he's certainly doing nothing to make that job harder. as if anyone actually thought/thinks that terrorists use the same language on the same platforms as us ordinary-easy-to-watch-because-we-have-nothing-to-hide-citizens!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DigDug, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:39am

    Where's Inspector Gadget when you need him???

    Cameron is obviously Dr. Evil....

    Or perhaps 007 would be more appropriate to take out the bad guy, permanently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wietze Brandsma (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:51am

    “the ratchet effect”

    From the Economist: Margaret Thatcher transformed not just her own Conservative Party, she reversed what her mentor, Keith Joseph, liked to call “the ratchet effect”, whereby the state was rewarded for its failures with yet more power. But today, the pendulum is swinging dangerously away from the principles Mrs Thatcher espoused. For a world in desperate need of growth, this is the wrong direction to head in. This is a crucial time to hang on to Margaret Thatcher’s central perception—that for countries to flourish, people need to push back against the advance of the state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Robinson, 2 Jul 2015 @ 12:29pm

    "It's not terrorism when our friends do it"

    "We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate."

    Kind of rich, considering the government has deliberately been creating "safe spaces" for high-ranking child rapists for decades.

    Rather more UK citizens have been victims of this state-sponsored terror than of the freelance Islamic sort, and yet the state security apparatus has been deployed to cover it up, rather than prevent and prosecute it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 12:48pm

    no privacy unless your Cameron since he has decided he and his ilk are above these petty laws he keeps making

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 1:00pm

    The Ring, The Ring

    The reason for the draconian clampdown is the threat posed to the Rings of Power. The parliamentary Ring is under quite severe attack, with a Lord of the Realm facing the dock for his participation in the Ring.

    We witnessed the spectacle of the decision not to prosecute on clearly false grounds. Why do you think that happened? The Ring of Power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 1:20pm

    "We have always been able, on the authority of the home secretary, to sign a warrant and intercept a phone call, a mobile phone call or other media communications...


    The problem with this statement is that it is misleading in the worst sort of way. They've always had the ability to seek a warrant and rarely do.

    "We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate."


    The issue with this statement is the claim that everyone else doesn't have to worry. What we are finding out is that everything you say, writing in an email, post on a forum, search for in a search engine, is all captured. The various security agencies then lie about what they are really doing. It comes out later that what they are claiming they don't do is exactly what they are doing. If it involves breaking the laws to do it, then that is fair game too.

    The results of all this is seen when there is a civil protest. Reams of documents start being generated about the participants, images captured, co-ordination between branches because some one claimed protest is the equivalent of terrorism. So we now have the equal to an authoritarian government where protests are no allowed in reality. Precisely what is going on in the Middle East.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 1:27pm

    Who was running against Cameron?

    For those chastising the voters who voted him in: who was running against him, and were any of them better?

    This has been the case in my area for quite some time: I feel like I'm voting for the lesser of evils. And sometimes the lesser of evils is already in office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lars626 (profile), 2 Jul 2015 @ 3:57pm

    A terrorist is ..

    A terrorist is someone whose actions are intended to undermine the stability of society. This can be done with indiscriminate bombings or by subverting the public's confidence in elected leaders. Cameron falls in the second category.

    Any invasion of privacy must have 'a compelling government interest'. There must be a reason other than 'because we can'.

    Hitler must be laughing in his grave, wherever it is, to see what Britain has become.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 11:10pm

      Re: A terrorist is ..

      That is a pretty terrible definition of terrorist. Proving that an elected official was replaced with an imposer would count as terrorism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 5:24pm

    So his strategy in making everywhere safe is to make everywhere equally dangerous.

    Sounds legit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TDR, 2 Jul 2015 @ 5:36pm

    King Arthur would be furious if he could see what Britain has turned into. It's fallen far from Camelot and its ideals. Fictional stories, true, but still far better principles and values than what exists on the isle today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2015 @ 7:17pm

    This guy sounds like such a douche. WTF?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    legal eagle, 2 Jul 2015 @ 9:35pm

    David Cameron Promises To Do Away With 'Safe Spaces' On The Internet

    Big Brother Dave. Have you been fantasizing about Orwell's 1984 again? Do you have wet moments when it talks about totalitarianism? Have any mental orgasms as the 2 minutes "hate" gets under way? A simple question if you will; what is wrong with you ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2015 @ 11:58am

    David Cameron is a terrorist threat to the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2015 @ 12:15pm

    Ahhhhhh, camerons presuming himself to be a good guy in all of this

    Nothing like a megnomaniac to push freedoms further

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2015 @ 6:08pm

    I take David Cameron's statement about abolishing unbreakable encryption to mean, "Edward Snowden should never have been able to securely communicate with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald" as a whistleblower."

    Also...

    "There will be no 'dark place' for dissenting views of government policy to exist without us knowing about them, and promptly blacklisting the individuals as 'undesirables'."

    Orwellian indeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 4 Jul 2015 @ 7:16pm

    We're your gov't, and we're here to help you.

    These kinds of statements are cartoonishly evil. They're the kind of ridiculous statements one would have hoped you'd only see in late night TV fictional dramas, not coming from an actual elected leader of a major western power.

    Notice how this makes anyone who looks askance at such obvious truths a tinfoil hat wearing, extreme conspiracy theorist? "Why would you not want us to look? We're your gov't. We're only trying to protect you; what you paid your taxes for us to do. Why would you question our purity of motives and intentions? You're not hiding anything, are you?"

    He's demanding the sanction of his victims.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2015 @ 11:57am

    Aw, I thought he meant he was going to do away with SJW blogs and propaganda about microaggressions and white privilege.

    Too bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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