Compliant UK Press Insist 'Thousands Of Lives At Risk' If Government Can't Spy On Citizens

from the oh-really-now? dept

Earlier today we wrote about how the UK's High Court determined that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act that passed a year ago, allowing the government wide leverage to get access to citizens' private data, was a violation of privacy, because it did not have necessary limitations. The rule is still allowed to be used for the next nine months while the court asks Parliament to fix the law (or for the government to appeal the ruling, which it's doing). Cue frantic bogus FUD from the press stenographers in the UK. The Telegraph's "Security Editor" posted a story with this ridiculous (and wrong) headline: "Thousands of lives at risk after High Court rules snooping powers unlawful."
There is, of course, nothing in the article to support the headline, because it's not even remotely true. Considering that the law stays in place for the time being even if it were true that this power to spy on citizens was necessary (which it's not), there would be no difference at all today. But the Telegraph has to come out with FUD so it quotes unnamed government officials going with the "but think of the children!" argument:
But police chiefs and the Home Office warned that would mean officers would no longer be able to use the data to help trace vulnerable people such as those at suicide risk or missing children
So they need to spy on you to save you. Talk about a paternalistic authoritarian bullshit. And, actually, the article seems to raise a lot more questions about abuse of DRIP than anything else:
The power was used in around 16,000 such cases last year to “prevent death or injury in an emergency situation”, the Home Office said.

Under the ruling, judges or an independent body will have to sign off every one of the 500,000-plus requests to access communications data each year.
First of all, 500,000 requests?!? What the hell are they searching? Second: 16,000 cases where this power was used to "prevent death or injury in an emergency situation" -- that's not even remotely believable. That's saying that law enforcement in the UK needed to snoop on citizens' private data more than 40 times every day to "prevent death or serious injury." Considering that the law only went into effect a year ago, did the number of deaths and serious injuries drop by a tremendous amount in the last 12 months, because surely there should be some evidence of that, right? Admittedly, the latest stats only go up to 2013, but if there had been a giant decrease in suicides, wouldn't someone be talking about that number, rather than the requests for information?

Instead, everyone's going on and on about how they're supposedly preventing suicides by spying on your:
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on communications data, said: “A significant proportion of our acquisition of data relates to situations where life is at immediate risk and a significant proportion of those requests relate to non-crime enquiries, for example: tracing vulnerable and suicidal missing persons.”
Of course, even if this is true (which is unlikely), are they really arguing that they need a special data retention law to make this happen? Or that they can't bother to ask a judge first? In the US, we don't have a similar data retention law, and yet companies frequently work with law enforcement to help them locate missing persons. Why do you need a broad law with little oversight unless you're planning to abuse that power in a way that companies might push back on if they weren't required by law to comply?

Filed Under: data retention, drip, dripa, fud, lives in danger, suicide, uk


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 6:53pm

    Cost vs Gain

    Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on communications data, said: “A significant proportion of our acquisition of data relates to situations where life is at immediate risk and a significant proportion of those requests relate to non-crime enquiries, for example: tracing vulnerable and suicidal missing persons.”

    And live cameras in every room of every house, constantly watched, could probably prevent even more suicides and/or crime, yet I doubt many would consider that an acceptable cost.

    Just once I'd love to see a major newspaper follow the logic these arguments are based upon to their natural conclusion, and earnestly push for it, 'A Modest Proposal' style. Cameras in every room, every conversation recorded and filed away, no matter the medium, every action carefully scrutinized and noted down.

    If anything any such 'proposal' would likely not be far from what the government voyeurs actually want, even if they'd never admit it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Cost vs Gain

      don't forget the gps tracking implanted into every person at birth. And the barcodes tattooed onto the arms for easy identification.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 18 Jul 2015 @ 4:28pm

        Re: Re: Cost vs Gain

        Ah, very good catch that. Mandatory tracking doesn't do much good if the device being tracked is left behind, best to have the tracking device in the person to deal with that problem.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 7:08pm

    flip it around

    millions of lives at risk if foreign governments can spy on citizens

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 11:23am

      Re: flip it around

      or domestic... the US conveniently gathers our personal data making it easier for the chinese to gather.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 8:02pm

    As opposed to over 60 million lives at risk if the British government can spy on citizens?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 8:18pm

    >The judges did not immediately throw out the legislation but instead ordered the Home Office to redraft the law by next March. The powers can still be used in the meantime.

    Isn't this very similar to what happened with the US ruling on bulk telephone records? It's astounding that these illegal programs continue to run with impunity.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 8:22pm

    The fact they can keep going to the well on this "for the children" bs every time and it continues to work makes the UK look truly, thoroughly pathetic. That government owns their asses hard. The UK must be nice a bunch of other ways because civil liberties wise its repulsive.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 9:05pm

    It's because they have a time machine, and they can use retained data to go back and prevent these dire situations after trolling through the database.

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

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 18 Jul 2015 @ 12:46am

    Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow

    Field Reporter: "Tom, I am standing just outside of Chicago, where the panic of global warming has already caused countless deaths. Already we're reporting that the death toll here in Chicago is over 600 billion people."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 2:38am

    Wait, so they want to spy on people because they might commit suicide?!

    That's fucking Orwellian.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 2:39am

    Next they will say "millions will be affected by online trolls if we don't spy on everyone".

    The absurdity of the government's/compliant press' arguments for spying is going up to 11.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 18 Jul 2015 @ 3:05am

    Anyone get the hint??

    Scanning the net, and collecting data...IS NOT FAST..
    Running around chat rooms to stop Suicides? could help someone.. Help someone get DRUGS to mellow them out, and the side affects are??? Suicide.

    Privacy is a 2 way street..
    IF you want OUR INFO, we get to HAVE YOURS..
    Every paper, fax, Net, Promise you make..

    WHO do you think they are monitoring??

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

  • icon
    gaeliclad (profile), 18 Jul 2015 @ 4:41am

    When you see for the children in a argument ,
    you know the argument is going to be, is lets have less privacy,less civil rights,
    less internet freedom,or free speech,
    the us government has been hacked multiple times ,in the last year,
    Probably by china.
    more surveillance= more data as a potential target for hackers.
    There,s 1000s of poor people or old people who don,t use smartphones
    or have broadband .
    DO those people not get lost or have problems that put them at risk .
    This is like the awful sunday times article on snowden
    leaks ,
    it could have been written by a government pr hack.
    it makes no sense,
    its just a call for more surveillance powers for the government .
    WE have no big surveillance system in ireland ,
    theres other ways of helping people who get lost or who
    are at risk of suicide
    apart from mass surveillance .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 7:23am

    hopefully the ones at the top of that list of thousands are the fucking plums who believe this ridiculous statement to be true! starting there, with the journalist and publishing decision maker, would be good!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 10:54am

    16,000 cases of injuries or harm prevented? Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Let's look at it from another angle. This is out of 500,000 requests. That makes the false positive rate 96.8%. We also have no data on the false negative rate and the damage it causes.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 1:14pm

    All those corrupt government lives would end at the swinging of a yardarm if they could not spy on the patriots to see if dissent rises high enough for outright rebellion against Tyranny

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

  • identicon
    Dave, 20 Jul 2015 @ 3:52am

    Prevent Suicide

    But police chiefs and the Home Office warned that would mean officers would no longer be able to use the data to help trace vulnerable people such as those at suicide risk or missing children


    Recently I threatened suicide to my local MP as a result of Camerloons suggestion that he was going to ban or backdoor encryption. I gave a date and the method and cc'd the message to local Plod on .pnn.police.uk

    Nothing happened. Fortunately/Unfortunately I did not catch the bus. Casper Bowden popped his clogs on my given day. Fair enough I am a coward but whilst I had only met him via Twitter I had no idea just how brilliant the man was.

    Perhaps my mistake was to tell my MP and Plod to their faces that I was about to top myself. I should have relied on them intercepting my communications.

    no longer be able to use the data to help trace vulnerable people such as those at suicide risk


    Bollocks!

    Not Dave

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2015 @ 3:49pm

    Corporate-owned media.

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


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