Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

How Is This Legal ?

Via Old Holburn and Leg Iron comes news of how the government is allowing the police to log onto people’s computers and search them.

This means that the police have licence to read YOUR emails, your instant messages, your private documents (possibly containing passwords, account details etc). Without a warrant. Alternatively, they could install a “key-logging” device, so that they know what you’re typing. At any time. What’s more, this power is not just limited to the police in this country. It also applies to the authorities in any other EU country.

The safeguards, such that they are, appear to include an assertion that these measures can only be instigated in order to detect a “serious” crime, defined as one that carries a jail sentence of three years or more. And we all know what happens to "safeguards". They get changed, ignored, or conveniently forgotten. And that's only if they're any good in the first place, which these are not.

You know what stinks most of all about this particularly smelly destruction of our liberties ? It’s not that it represents a further dismantling of our freedoms and our rights to privacy in our own affairs, important though those are. It’s the way it’s being done.

You would think, would you not, that for the police to have this sort of power, they must have had it granted after full Parliamentary scrutiny and debate. And you would think that if Parliament had not given the police such authority, then acts such as hacking into our personal computers would be illegal. But no, not a bit of it. This has come about as a result of an EU directive agreed by the council of Ministers, which is as close to unaccountable as makes no difference. Under the Parliamentary system built up in the UK over hundreds of years, if politicians passed laws the public didn’t like, the public could get rid of them. What can we do if we don’t like this.? Correct; absolutely sweet nothing.


Sue said...

It's legal if our government want to do it, illegal for everyone else of course! Jacqui Smith is determined to spy on each and everyone of us, as are the EU!

I think human rights and civil liberty organisations should be fiercely attacking this invasion on our privacy. How are we supposed to protect our bank details etc.. if the government is hacking into our computers?

I guess the only thing you can do is install anti-spy software like "Spybot", which does detect key-loggers and don't use wireless, cable everything up physically and ensure that remote access etc. are disabled and don't open suspicious attachments on email which is how "apparently" they are going to send these key-loggers.

I'm sure sites will spring up with expert advice we can follow to protect ourselves.

These things are open to abuse by our government especially. In my opinion the only reasons they SHOULD have to invade someone's privacy, is if they suspect terrorism or CHILD pornography, in which case they should do it the old fashioned way and knock on doors and confiscate equipment!

Carshalton Don said...

I am the last one to defend the establishment here, but this has been blown out of proportion. The EU ministers are going to DISCUSS whether other EU countries police can request of the british police that they carry out a search on their behalf. This would still have to take place under RIPA.

On another level, its unworkable anyway. The act of directly accessing my computer renders all evidence gained inadmissable because it abuses the chain of evidence rules.

When your computer is seized with a warrant, there are very clear rules around powering off; the police make a copy of the disk, retain the disk, and use the copy for forensic examination, so the evidence is preserved.

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued that you choose to criticise the police in this post, complete with its (utterly irrelevant, in the context of the article) picture of an officer discharging a taser, when the real villain of the piece is clearly the EU.

True, you eventually get round to pointing that out,fivelines from the end of the post, but not before blackguarding the police who, if they propose to adduce any material in evidence, are obliged to obtain it by following rules set out by parliaments either here or, increasingly, in Brussells.

Oh, and let's not forget that on those few occasions when sufficient evidence on which to base a prosecution is obtained, it is subsequently pored over for hours by defence lawyers, looking for the slightest trace of a procedural error by means of which to secure their client's acquittal.

We may disagree with the laws and the powers they provide, but it is ridiculous to then blame the police for using them.

kiki said...


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