Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gets Royal Assent

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The Controversial Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Royal Assent on Thursday 18th November 2004, and is now the law.

Compared with the relatively unimportant Hunting Act 2004, which also completed its Parliamentary Progress at the same time, there has been virtually no press or media coverage of what is rightly described as the most draconian and powerful piece of legislation since the 1920 Emergency Powers Act.

The Act does not have any easy to understand, clear safeguards and independent checks and balances. Nobody knows what circumstances may or may not cause an Emergency to be declared.

There is no insistance on the use of Digital Signatures to authenticate either the initial Orders declaring and Emergency or the actual Emergency Regulations, which by their very nature are likely to have to be implemented in a hurry. Therefore there will be accidental or malicious hoaxes in the future, for which there will be no punishment of the malicous or the incompetent.

Emergency Regulations can potentially have the full force of Primary Legislation and the Royal Prerogative, with no need for prior Parliamentary approval, scrutiny or amendment i.e. absolute legal power without limit.

We do not believe that the current Government or Opposition politicians would abuse the enormous powers which they have just granted themselves, but we do believe that they have created an Enabling Act which would help any future dictatorship to seize power, using this legal "rod for our own backs".

What the Civil Contingencies Act does not do, is to actually provide the money for state of the art emergency communications systems, equipment, trained personnel, and the large scale realistic training exercises involving real forced evacuations of the general public etc. which are needed for realistic civil defence of the country.

Do you feel safer and more protected from future widescale natural and man made disasters, as a result of the passage of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 ?

Our previous concerns about the Civil Contingencies Bill have mostly not been answered and still remain as fundamental flaws in the Act.

9 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gets Royal Assent.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://spyblog.org.uk/mt5211/mt-tb.cgi/314

More Totalitarianism in Europe from indarchy: unlimited self-government on November 19, 2004 11:51 PM

The UK may now be 'legally' ruled by fiat. There is no insistance on the use of Digital Signatures to authenticate either the initial Orders declaring and Emergency or the actual Emergency Regulations, which by their very nature are likely to have... Read More

Anyway, we are now in a position where, legally speaking, all a cabinet minister or govt whip has to do to acquire pretty much absolute power, is to state that an emergency is about to occur, that existing legislation might not be sufficient to tackl... Read More

The Civil Contingencies Act became law last Thursday in what can only be described as a blaze on non-publicity. This... Read More

The Civil Contingencies Act became law last Thursday in what can only be described as a blaze on non-publicity. This legislation, which represents perhaps the most serious threat to liberty in Britain since World War II, has put in place the legal tool... Read More

The Civil Contingencies Act became law last Thursday in what can only be described as a blaze on non-publicity. This legislation, which represents perhaps the most serious threat to liberty in Britain since World War II, has put in place the legal tool... Read More

Big Brother Update from Random Nuclear Strikes on November 22, 2004 10:17 AM

Watch out Oregonians! Technology allows mileage tax pilot project New technology has led to a test of a highway tax system that will force drivers to pay by the mile. The Oregon Road User Fee Task Force on Friday laid out a timetable for a 280-vehicle ... Read More

Big Brother Update from Random Nuclear Strikes on November 22, 2004 10:25 AM

Watch out Oregonians! Technology allows mileage tax pilot project New technology has led to a test of a highway tax system that will force drivers to pay by the mile. The Oregon Road User Fee Task Force on Friday laid out a timetable for a 280-vehicle ... Read More

TITLE: Spy Blog: Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gets Royal Assent URL: http://weblog.arkane-systems.net/followme/archive/2004/11/22/302.aspx IP: 83.148.132.42 BLOG NAME: DATE: 11/22/2004 12:53:26 PM TITLE: Spy Blog: Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gets Royal Assent URL: http://weblog.arkane-systems.net/followme/archive/2004/11/22/302.aspx IP: 83.148.132.42 BLOG NAME: DATE: 11/22/2004 12:53:26 PM Read More

Ever wondered what it would be like if a Government Minister had absolute power? No, of course you didn't, because our Government looks after us and cares about the things that we care about like crime and anti-social behaviour. Or... Read More

18 Comments

'We do not believe that the current Government or Opposition politicians would abuse the enormous powers which they have just granted themselves'

- why not?

I would agre with mr morriss, how can we trust this government or any other one.TRUST needs to be earned and there has been no earning, that I have seen.Lies are the norm, as well as coverups.

So now Britain has jumped head first into it's Weimar phase.

Now that the Bill has Royal Assent does this mean it is now law? E.g. the govt could use it right now?

Yes, it is law right now, as, in this case, there is no inbuilt delay or start date or need to invoke certain sections through another vote in Parliament etc.

Royal Assent is the formal step just before the Queen actually signs the parchment or vellum copy of the Act with a quill pen, sealing wax etc. which then gets bound into the Statute Book.

In practice, Her Majesty's Stationary Office prints some official paper copies and, usually manages to put an online "unofficial" copy of the text on their website by the next working day i.e. over the weekend in this instance.

The Government could even have already declared an Emergency and started to issue Emergency Regulations without bothering to tell you abiout it, "for security" or "to prevent panic" reasons !

I.e. as of Thursday we have no legal protection against the govt should it decide to institute a dictatorship.

How comforting...

James

Actually, we already *are* in a state of emergency or at least a 'public emergency' given the Government's submission to the Council of Europe to explain why the UK has derogated from article 5(1)(f) of the ECHR. An extract from the submission on 18/12/01:

"There exists a terrorist threat to the United Kingdom from persons suspected of involvement in international terrorism. In particular, there are foreign nationals present in the United Kingdom who are suspected of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of international terrorism, of being members of organisations or groups which are so concerned or of having links with members of such organisations or groups, and who are a threat to the national security of the United Kingdom.

As a result, a public emergency, within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the Convention, exists in the United Kingdom."

Sorry about the double trackback. I messed up the first time round, and didn't realise the second ping would add a new entry rather than amend the old one.

Trackbacks are an interesting idea, and their use should be encouraged, but they are not always that reliable e.g. you often get error messages claiming that they have failed when they have not, so that you are tempted to try again.

Some anti Blog Comment Spam filters e.g. MT-Blacklist also handle excessive trackback pings as well, and the relatively few duplicate trackbacks can be handled manually.

The derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights, as enshrined in the Human Rights Act, was done so as to allow detenttion withhout trial under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act part 4.

Supposedly, the Human Rights Act is protected from being amended or repealed by the Civil Contingencies Act Emergency Powers, and despite attempts to get other core contstitutional Acts such as Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, the Parliament Act, the European Union Act etc. etc. similarly protected, this is the only one which is.

However, the exemptions from the Human Rights Act mean that it does not have to be amended or repealed, the legal loopholes are already built in.

Re: the HRA 1998, I wasn't aware of the amendment that protected it until I read a Telegraph leader, earlier tonight, that claimed the HRA was protected legislation. I then investigated and found the bill had been amended since I last looked. I've updated my most recent blog article to reflect this.

ISTM that what protection the HRA provides is severely reduced if an emergency is declared (forced labour is allowed in emergencies for example), and can be completely nullified via derogations like the one used to enable the detention of foreign residents without trial.

Even with the HRA intact, ISTM the govt can set up its own special courts or tribunals to hear such cases instead of the normal courts using the power to confer jurisdiction (and the power to prohibit assemblies to stop the normal courts from sitting). Such tactics could ensure the law gets applied only in the way they want.

Nothing I've seen so far suggests there's any serious legal or constitutional constraint on the absolute legislative and executive power conferred on cabinet ministers by this legislation, should they invoke the power to issue emergency regulations.

It's a truly frightening development. How long before the govt uses this legislation to stifle any protests against govt policy that look as if they might be effective?

Vote for Tony Blair...or there will be no more elections.

No discussion, no press comment. Read the Scott 1st Chapter about how they replaced wartime regulation of exports and duped the Labour opposition. This was ocassioned by someone trying to import bananas against the agreements we had with Caribbean countries.

Of course we will never use this legislation etc... what the fuck are they doing about the prison on Diego Garcia ? Gunatanamo ?

The Civil Contongencies Act is equivalent to Article 48 of Germany's Weimar Constitution by which Hitler came to Power. Under this Act Blair ne no longer call elections and we become a dictatorship. Will the last free man to leave this land please turn the light out.

The Civil Contongencies Act is equivalent to Article 48 of Germany's Weimar Constitution by which Hitler came to Power. Under this Act Blair need no longer call elections and we become a dictatorship. Will the last free man to leave this land please turn the light out.

When will the civil contingencies bill formally enter into force?

Carl,

It is already in force. It went into force on receiving Royal Assent last Thursday. See earlier comments.

We are one cabinet minister's statement away from dictatorship.

It would be interesting to know whether the origins of this legislation began life in Brussels.Pretty much all of our laws are now framed within the EU and imposed upon this country under the guise of original thought by this government.
Is Magna Carta dead?.
Does this mean that any official or unofficial body quoting this Civil Contingencies Act can remove the protection of law from citizens of the UK for whatever reason they choose without having to justify it.
Can it lead to imprisonment without trial,confiscation of property and belongings ?.
Who would we,as individuals,have to protect us.

Roy

'Who would we, as individuals, have to protect us.'
The Army? Faster than I care to contemplate, the arrogance and insolence of Blair and his government is making the only issue of note in this country whether the boys and girls with the shiny toys go along with the destruction of Britain.

the Army is traditionally conservative voting - but the British army is probably the most highly disciplined force in the entire world. Doubtful that they would disobey direct orders. Minor rebellions by squads of soldiers would be severely put down.

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notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

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Recent Comments

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  • Roy Woollard: It would be interesting to know whether the origins of read more
  • James Hammerton: Carl, It is already in force. It went into force read more
  • Carl: When will the civil contingencies bill formally enter into force? read more
  • John: The Civil Contongencies Act is equivalent to Article 48 of read more
  • John: The Civil Contongencies Act is equivalent to Article 48 of read more
  • Edward Teague: Vote for Tony Blair...or there will be no more elections. read more
  • James Hammerton: Re: the HRA 1998, I wasn't aware of the amendment read more
  • wtwu: The derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights, as read more

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

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Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

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Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers