Our third set of comments on the evil Terrorism Bill 2005:
- The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part III Investigation of Electronic Data Protected by Encryption etc. could already deal with law enforcement demands for secret cryptographic keys or for the plaintext of messages or information so enncrypted , as it has already been on the statute books for 5 years,
There is literally no evidence to suggest that 2 years is an insufficient penalty, because there has never been a single demand for encryption keys or the deciphering of encrypted material under this Part 3 of the Act, which has lain dormant on the Statute Book for 5 years - it has still not yet been brought into force by order of the Home Secretary !
Therefore there is no justification for creating a new category of "national security investigation" and increasing the penalty from 2 years to 5 years in prison for failing to comply, as per section 15 Maximum penalty for contravening notice relating to encrypted information
It is also completely unclear where this provision arises from. It does not even appear in the Association of Chief Police Officers "shopping list" of powers. They, did not ask for any 5 year prison penalty, they asked the Home Office to get its finger out and enact RIPA Part 3 !
- Again, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, it appears that either Home Secretary Charles Clarke cannot be bothered to sign Interception warrants anymore, or his officials no longer trust him to read them, after the debacle with the first batch of Control Orders, which he apparently did not bother to read when he signed them.
Why should the public accept the removal of even the nominal oversight by the Home Secretary of electronic interception warrants and certificates, which are to be renewed or amended, to be replaced by unnamed, unnaccountable lower level bureaucrats, who will sign such warrants and certificates instead, of the Home Secretary himself, if section 31 Interception warrants
is allowed to stand as part of the Bill.
Surely long running i.e. 3 month or 6 month surveillance and interception operations deserve more scrutiny and not less ?
If the bureaucratic burden on the Home Secretary is too much, then it should be for an independent Judge to review such warrants, and not a petty official to simply rubberstamp them.
N.B. This proposed change to the RIPA legislation does not just apply to terrorist investigations, but to all general investigations of serious crimes as well, and therefore has no place in this Terrorism Bill.
- Section 12 Trespassing etc. on nuclear sites
The amendment of the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, to "designate" the outermost fences and gates of civil nuclear power sites also has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
The only people who might ever be caught by this clause are possible peaceful anti-nuclear power protestors.
The police already have powers to curtail marches and demonstrations outside of the perimiters of nuclear sites if they suspect that there might be violence or criminal damage.
Every nuclear power station already has inner high security fences patrolled by armed police from the recently re-named Civil Nuclear Constabulary (formerly the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary) with "trespassers will be shot" warning signs.
- This Home Office Bill yet again fails to incorporate any legal sanctions against petty officials or politicians who exceed their authority under this Bill.
- This Bill fails to set up any compensation scheme to alleviate any "collateral damage" to innocent people, caused by genuine mistakes made under this Bill, which should be budgeted for in advance, as part of the cost of the "war on terror".
Rememeber that there are no adequate or proper remedies for those who have been falsely stopped, searched or arrested or even suspected of "terrorism offences".
This is a huge failure of the NuLabour way of pretending to be "tough" on terrorism, which, like any police state, marks your "secret police file" with a black mark, forever into the future, by retaining fingerprints, DNA samples, photographs and other items, forever.
Part 1 of our comments on the terrorism Bill 2005
Part 2 of our comments on the terrorism Bill 2005