Draft Terrorism Bill 2005 - more evil legislation

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The Guardian has a .pdf version of the controvesial Draft Terrorism Bill 2005 online, something which neither the Home Office nor the Parliament websites could be bothered to do on Thursday.

Depressingly, this Home Office seems to be a repeating the same tactics as the controversial Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, i.e. a long and complicated portmanteau Bill, with some very controversial parts, such as the detention without charge extension from 14 days to 3 months, whilst also including masses of complicated new offences, almost all of which are already covered by existing legislation.

It will be intolerable if the Liberal Democrat and Conservative opposition parties get diverted in trying to obtain "concessions" about whether the power of internment without charge should be as long as 3 months or not, and they let through the rest of the clauses, such as the removal of the need for the Home Secretary to personally sign warrants under the Rgulation of Investigatory Powers Act -(delgation not to a Judge, but some faceless bureacrat or other), "on the nod", without proper debate, like they have done in the past.

What is the justification for 3 months detention without charge ? It is not necessary to complete the analysis of all the forensic material at the scene of a terrorist atrocity, identifying every victim etc, before the first charge can be laid against a suspect.

If more forensic science resources are required, then why hasn't the Government provided the money for them already, instead of trying to privatise the Foresnic Science Service ?

Yet again, the NuLabour Home Office is proposing serious criminal offences, to do with publications etc., with a reversed burden of proof i.e. which the accused has to prove his or her innocence, rather than the prosecution having to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty of something specific.

No terrorist or terrorist sympathiser ever calls themselves a terrorist, they describe themselves, and often genuinely believe , that they are freedom fighters, liberators, defenders of the faith, soldiers etc.

The use of the word "public" as the target audience for allegedly terrorist publications which "glorify" etc. acts of terrorism looks like another bit of sloppy Home Office thinking.

What about, say, Islamic extremist website which has nothiing too extreme on the public internet sections, but which has more extreme stuff in private, password protected "elite only" areas ? It must surely be a defence that this sort of material is not actually for public consumption, but only to the chosen elite/gullible new recruits to the terrorist group/death cult ?

The "20 year historical exemption" makes no sense either. Why is the government trying to re-write history and to ban even the mention of things which have already happened in the past ? Are previously published books and online archives now to be censored , seized or destroyed ? Revenge and hatred for ancient historical grievances is still part of the cultural backgroubnd which breeds terrorism even today. e.g. Ireland, Armenia, Kurdistan, Kashmir, Israel/Palestine etc. which strech beyond the arbitaray "20 year" exemption.

"Dissemination of terrorist publications" is also going to cause problems.

What about when Al Quaeda release a video or audio statemnt, which gets copied and then broadcast, in Arabic, on say Al Jazeera or other foreign media. If, as what then usually happens, the BBC, Sky, ITV, etc TV media literally pirate and steal the Al Jazeera satellite feed, without permission, and re-broadcast it, with an English translation, then how are they not liabale under this proposed power ? They cannot claim the defence that they were simply transmitting the material, en passant, like a public telecommunications provider, without being aware of the content, especially as the BIll only requires some of the audience to interpret the news report as a terrorist statement, incitement, glorification etc.

"such that it is likely to be understood as such an encouragement or other inducement by some or all of the persons to whom it is or is likely to be available in consequence of that conduct."

It appears that this Bill is attempting to censor the rest of the world, outside of the direct jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. Similarly it is also trying to censor and supress foreign language publications as well.

The tinkering with even more complicated offences regarding trespassing within the outer fences of Civil Nuclear Power Stations (which already have "trespassers will be shot" signs on them, and an armed Atomice Energy Police force), or Radioactive substances is unecessary and is entirely coverd by existing laws already

A possible life sentence for the such a vaguely defined offence as "Preparation of terrorist acts", either actually "committing" or merely "assisting", is intolerable. This must be defined much more explicitly.

What exactly is this offence meant to cover , which is not already covered in the existing Terrorism Act 2000 ?

"The training for terrorism" offences are somehow in addition to "weapons training" (explosives, firearms, chemical, biological and nuclear weaposns training is already an offence under the Terrorism Act), and only appear to cover "noxious substances", the possesion of which is already illegal under the Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Section 7, where they are defined. What on earth is this section meant to cover ? Medical or Biochemical textbooks ? These are already illegal if used for "a terrorist purpose" under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Why does this Draft Bill try to amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to reduce the oversight of warrants, by making them last longer before they have to be renewed ? The oversight in this area is weak enough as it is, and these changes apply not just to terrorism investigations, but to general "serious crimes" as well.

This did not appear in the ACPO "shopping list". There are several other things on this "shopping list", notably to do with the "disruption" or cyber attacks on foreign websites, which are not mentioned in this Draft Bill, but which may sneak into the full Bill when it is published, probably, in October.

It appears that the Home Secretary Charles Clarke can no longer be bothered to personally sign warrants issued under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2001, or the Intelligence Services Act 1994 - the Bill has provisions to delegate the signing of such warrants to designated officials.

So much for the alleged safeguard of "political judgement" or "Ministerial accountability to Parliament" - will Charles Clarke resign if one of his officials is too zealous in signing such warrants, or will he just blame his subordinates ? He already appears to have form for not actaully bothering to read the details of the first Control Orders which he "signed".

The names or at least the roles and job titles of the people who the Home Secretary delegates his authority and public responsibilities to, when signing such warrants and orders, must be made public. How will people know if they are legally valid warrants or not, if they have been signed by some official who nobody at the "sharp end" has ever heard of ? The Home Office do not seem to be set up to make use of Electronic Digital Signatures, after all.

If the workload of running the surveillance state is too much for one person, then the proper response should be to delegate the power to sign such warrants not to faceless bureaucrats, but to real, independent Judges, a system which works well in other countries, and which does not compromise security.

If this Draft Terrorism Bill 2005 is made into law, we will not be any safer from terrorists.

How can Home Secretary Charles Clarke or Prime Minister Tony Blair sincerely claim that these provisions are not in contravention of the Human Rights Act 1998 e.g. the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech etc. ?

6 Comments

If I recall correctly, when the control orders legislation was passed, the govt promised to review things and to bring forward new legislation as part of that review. Is this bill the new legislation? Or are we going to get yet another set of proposals next year? Will these powers replace the control orders or be in addition to them?

Finally, has anyone studied the impact of existing legislation such as the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005?

Before the Parliamentary summer recess, Labour Home Charles Clarke, Conservative David Davis and Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten agreed to keep the review of the Prevention of Terrorism Act Control Orders separate from any measures which might needed in the light of the July terrorist attacks, in case the controversy over this delayed any vital new security powers. Politicians in Scotland or Wales, or, astonishingly, Northern Ireland do not seem to have been consulted.

There had already been a promise for a new Counter -Terrorism Bill, in the Queen's Speech of the 17th May 2005:

"Proposals will be brought forward to continue the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere."

The "indirect incitement", the even vaguer "glorification" were already in the pipeline, as was the "acts preparatory" offence (a reccomendation of the Privy Council Committee chaired by Lord Newton of Braintree, which reviewd the ANti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001)

There are lessons to be learned from the July terrorist attacks , and the failures, and weaknesses that they showed. For examplee the lack of any licensing scheme and enforced minimum standards of maintenance for CCTV surveillance cameras, which might have speeded up the search for relevant images.

e.g. the CCTV cameras onboard the Tavistock Square Bus were not working - it should not have been allowed onto the road until they were, just as if any other safety equipment was faulty

However, the Draft Terrorism Bill does not contain any measures which are urgently needed, and it will be a travesty if the Bill is rushed through before Christmas, without exaustive scrutiny and debate.

The only measure which it could be argued might be "urgent" is the controversial 3 month detention without charge, on the spurious grounds that either Forensic Evidence might take that longer to gatther or aanalyse, which was simply not the case, even for the explosions deep underground in the Tube tunnels, or that decryption of computer files might take that long. If encrypted computer files cannot be deciphered in a day or two, e.g. through passphrase dictionary attacks against seized PGP keyrings, then 3 months will not be enough either, and there is no way that they will stand up in court (if GCHQ can break any of the popular encryption ciphers, e.g. Triple DES or AES, then why would they want to admit to the fact in public ?)

The Draft Terrorism Bill 2005 still does not contain everything in the ACPO "shopping list", notably the use of Intercept Evidence in court, "disruption" or "cyber attacks" on websites, or, as also reported, the use of "supergrass" incentives, "intelligence interviews", reduced sentences, and witness protection schemes etc.

Presumably there is even more "We Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" smoke and mirrors legislation to appear before Christmas.

"e.g. the CCTV cameras onboard the Tavistock Square Bus were not working - it should not have been allowed onto the road until they were, just as if any other safety equipment was faulty"

wtwu - do I detect a softening in your attitude towards these lenses from hell? It's almost as if you think they are potentially a force for good. For my part, it pleases me no end to read about CCTV failures such as that described. The more failures we have, the easier it becomes to argue that these devices are a waste of time and money.

@ A Tench - no change in attitude at all re CCTV - the technology cannot be disinvented, and it does have its place.

If the CCTV systems being installed on London Buses are deemed to be essential safety or security devices, then they should be working, and a Bus should not go out on the road if they are not. If the CCTV cameras are not vital to public safety and security, then they should not be installed in the first place.

However one would have expected London Transport i.e. London Underground and London Buses to be able to keep the systems that they have installed, properly maintained, and to have established procedures with respect to supplying blank replacement media, for the times when the original tapes or hard disks are required for analysis following a serious crime or terrorist incident. Their failure to do so was evident with both some of the platform station cameras and the onboard train cameras which failed to capture the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting incident at Stockwell Tube station.

If London Transport cannot do this, there is no hope that the operators of smaller systems will ever do so voluntarily, hence the need for legislation to ensure a level playing field and minimum standards for CCTV spy cameras and their operators, throughout the country.

Charles Clarke has been pushing Data Retention for telephony and internet Communications Data Traffic Analysis, both at home and at the EU level, but he has failed to even have a voluntary scheme for the retention of CCTV tapes or hard disks, for even, say a week. Surely this would be of far more use in anti-terrorism or violent crime investigations than any amount of telephony or internet snooping ?

His paper to the EU Parliament "Liberty and Security - Striking the Right Balance" does have a section on CCTV, but it is even weaker and less persuasive than the rest of that glimpse into the bureaucratic policy laundering mindset of the Home Office.

It is ridiculous that there is central database of the every Television reciever set in the UK, courtesy of the controversial BBC licence fee, but there is nothing comparable for every CCTV camera system !

Unfortunately, at present, we have the worst of both worlds, millions of privacy unfriendly spy cameras, but no guarantee that when you really, really want them to be working properly, that they actually will do so.

On the basis of your reply to my earlier questions, I surmise that this bill is in addition to control orders and whatever powers come out of the review of control orders.

It seems to me that clause 3 of the bill is pretty ridiculous (I haven't yet absorbed the rest of the bill).

It will apparently be an offence to publish, lend, distribute or disseminate information that will be of assistance to someone carrying out or preparing acts of terrorism.

Judgements about whether a publication will in fact do such a thing will hinge on whether some of the likely audience/recipients of such information will construe the publication as falling into this category.

Thus if some people regard (or if it is judged that some people would regard) the A to Z of London as having been produced to help terrorists find their targets then it would be a terrorist publication and selling it would be an offence!

This law seems to be capable of very flexible, selective and arbitrary application (like much else this government has produced).

The arguments about CCTV being a "safety" system don't seem to carry much weight. The July bombers must surely have known that there were cameras all over the place, and were completely undeterred by the prospect of being identified. They even carried artifacts such as credit cards and mobile phones from which they could be identified.

I'm a fan of CCTV, but the way it's used at present is not really as a safety system. It's something to be looked at after an event has already taken place, not something which it used proactively to prevent events before they happen. The only comfort you can draw from most current systems is that if a terrorist decides to blow you up he will be identified at some point shortly after both of you are in bits and pieces.

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Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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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