back to article Government rejects Lords' surveillance criticism

The Government has rejected claims that it is conducting too much surveillance on citizens and has said that it has got the balance between surveillance and liberty right. It has rejected many recommendations recently made by the House of Lords. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution issued a stinging rebuke …


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  1. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    Got the balance right?

    No, they haven't.

    Surveillance is only appropriate if the 'authorities' have a-priori evidence that warrants a *suspect* coming under surveillance.

    Unless I am *already* a suspect for a crime, then the Government has NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to spy on me.

    They should be spending money on improving surveillance on *known* suspects (like Mohammed Siddique Khan) instead of wasting it spying on innocent people.

  2. Steve Poll



    "Where individuals believe powers have been used inappropriately, they can take their case to the IPT [Investigatory Powers Tribunal]. If the Tribunal upholds a complaint it is required to notify the complainant and make a report to the Prime Minister. It may, if appropriate, quash any warrant or authorisation, order the destruction of relevant material or order compensation," it said.

    Can this be used to compensate those who illegally had their data trawled by Phorm?

    Can this be used to compensate all those whose data was lost in the many many cases reported recently?

    Can ministers use this to compensate themselves for the leaking of their expenses?

    Guess 1 from 3 ain't bad.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    A Title goes here

    To$$ers... They don't listen do they...

    /helicopters coz they are coming...

  4. Mr Spoon

    Can I just say...


    This government drives me up the bloody walls with their complete refusal to listen to a bloody word anyone says!

  5. Columbus

    The IPT - don't make me laugh

    As the IPT have never upheld a complaint in their history so I find that to be an insulting statement by the Government. If you are being surveilled (with or without RIPA authorisation) it is impossible to get evidence of it, the Authority can provide 'evidence', which you are not privy to, to justify their actions, which you cannot counter.

    Local plod here do not use RIPA authorisations when they collect Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) reports, so they can deny any wrongdoing if it is not warranted. If the reports are needed for Court they just provide a document from a senior officer saying- yes it was authorised , legal and above board.

    Can we have a black camera logo please?

  6. Ash

    Gov ignores Peers?

    Write to your MPs, folks. If they don't get anything done, write to your MEP. ECJ can help.

  7. Tim Schomer

    smells like...

    "The Government respects the privacy of its citizens,"

    Chicken, no

    Horse, no

    Cow, close

    Ah, that's it BULL.

    The one next to the green wellies please...

  8. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "we are committed...

    ... to handling it safely and securely" Committment is obviously not enough. This government must go and will go, eventually. But, what comes next?

    To cite a man who was, in this respect, much more advanced than this government ever could have thought of: those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither and lose both.


  9. Michael
    Thumb Up

    Spot on

    '...over-surveillance was breaking the trust between Government and the people, and that intrusion into people's privacy risked undermining democracy itself.'

    Spot on.

    So many databases used to spy on innocent citizens under the pretext of defending us against terrorists.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    So the UK Government presumption continues...

    ... to be that we, the citizens of the UK, are all guilty, all of the time and the government will continue its mass surveillance programme to ensure it can prove its assumed position.

    STOP, because that's what we really need of this government.

  11. Christoph

    As much use as a chocolate teapot

    "Where individuals believe powers have been used inappropriately, they can take their case to the IPT [Investigatory Powers Tribunal]."

    This would be the secret surveillance that you are not allowed to know about, yes? Just exactly how much use is being able to complain about it? Regardless of whether this tribunal can or will do anything about it. Though of course they'll soon be able to abolish the tribunal on the grounds that nobody uses it.

  12. b

    Good Gravy

    "The Government respects the privacy of its citizens," said the Government Response to the Lords' report. "We take the protection of their personal information extremely seriously and we are committed to handling it safely and securely."

    Do you think they believe this tosh themselves? Are they that deluded?

  13. NB

    no surprises there

    As usual the voice of reason comes from the Lords and all we get back is the usual ZaNu-Lab-PF ``nanny knows best so shut the fuck up and bend over''' response from G to the B and his sycophantic lackeys.

    Try them for treason, this bunch of cunts don't even have an electoral mandate. We never voted a Brown (the Clown) led labour govt in and considering the current scandal he should call a general election immediately and let the people of this once great nation express their views on him and his party via the ballot.

    Remember this Mr Brown, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword and your political career is looking down the length of media driven sabre.

    While you're at it can we also have her Wackiness' head on a platter?

    Thanks, I knew you'd understand.

  14. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Wrong Planet

    Or at least I wish they were on a different one. I don't trust the government with any of my personal data and do my best to avoid giving them more than I have to. If that means being less co-operative with police investigations (as in no I will not willingly supply them with DNA or fingerprints because I don't believe they'd destroy them afterwards) then they can reap what they sow. Part of the Lords' reasoning for abolishing ID cards back in the '50s was because it would cause a breach in trust between police and public, I believe that with the present state of legislation we are already suffering such a breach.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Well then they can't complain...

    ...when someone pries into their private lives and splashes it all over the papers. Afetr all it's in the interst of the public and prevention & detection of crime [fraud]. Oh and if a few innocent MP's get caught up in the process, well ho hum....

    Swings both ways you thieving bastards!

  16. Wokstation

    But if they listened, they'd have to drop their motto

    "Rub some database on it"

  17. Nick Palmer

    This kind of thing... what really REALLY brings on the descending red mist as far as I'm concerned; it's that blithe unconcern and o'erweening arrogance that says that even when the highest court in Europe and our own legislature are telling them that they've overstepped the mark, that they're abusing their own citizens, that the sort of massive and unwarranted surveillance that they're implementing is completely wrong, THEY STILL KNOW BEST. That, and if I hear the phrase "We must strike a balance between..." one more time, just once more, THERE WILL BE BLOOD. I utterly fucking despise the phrase, and anyone who uses it; it's mere weaselling to excuse the further erosion of our rights. Our rights aren't a "balance"; they should be an absolute whose abrogation should only ever occur subject to cause being shown for it that would be sufficient to satisfy a judge or upon actual conviction of an offence. And that should be the case for everyone, even the people we don't necessarily like very much, because if that protection doesn't extend to everyone, then it doesn't protect anyone.

  18. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Down

    Second paragraph

    ...was as far as the gov. response got before the word "terror" unsurprisingly reared it's tired and frankly fucking worn-out head.

  19. Scott
    Paris Hilton


    Its simple, they can run full survallience on you without any control, do not have to tell you and probably don't need another above a suspision (just ask any Photographer what the ruling classes call suspicious or the people that had anti-terror laws used against them because they let there dog poop on a footpath) to use full Surveillance powers. I'm guessing they just keep tabs on you until you break one of the 1000's of new laws NuLabour has introduced then can turn round and say "see we used these powers correctly".

    The only thing stopping them putting chips in everyones head is they know there so incompetent that they'd get hacked even before they where implanted into the first drone.

    Why doesn't good old Gordo and Wacki just throught the Magna Carter on the road outside number 10 and pee on it. (sorry if you are now thinking of Wacki in an inappropriate pose)

    PH because see's the only person that wants to be followed around all day having everything recorded that they do.

  20. MinionZero

    Enough, they want Big Brother, time to play them at their own game.

    The Government expenses issue highlights just how vulnerable they are to having 24/7 monitoring of their activities forced on them.

    As for this “The Lords also said that surveillance should be subjected to judicial oversight, but the Government said that this was not needed.” ... they don't want to be watched or controlled in any way, yet they have shown so many times they want to relentlessly spy in ever more ways on all of us.

    Jacqui Smith will never stop with her push towards a police state with her sitting in the middle of the information spiders web. So her and her kind are going to have to be forced into treating people fairly, by forcing a police state on them just as they force it relentlessly on all of us. We need to watch the watchers. If they want Big Brother then they all must be watched 24/7.

    We have the technology to publish their accounts in near real time and to then create open data mining sites to extract patterns of activity from their data. Also many journalists would be happy to watch the feeds of data and to extract interesting patterns of activity. That would stop some of the corruption but we need to dig even deeper.

    Its all very well trapping corrupt politicians who get paid by companies to change laws that help these companies, but I want to know which politicians change laws which help companies and then leave to go to work for these companies. That's a post dated reward to them for changing the laws and it does happen. We can find this pattern of behaviour by monitoring their careers after they leave politics.

    We need to create ever more automated open feeds of information on them and ways to data mine all of them. They work for us. They want Big Brother so its time to give them Big Brother and see how they like it. They want to avoid disclosure of their details yet want to data mine us relentlessly to the point its a total violation of our privacy. We cannot stop them building Big Brother but we can force Big Brother on them. Any attempt to talk with them is pointless as they simply will not listen so we have to force Big Brother on them. They work for us and we pay them. Its time our representatives started to listen to us. They don't want to listen, then they have to be forced to listen. Enough with their greedy self serving corruption and their arrogant contempt for all of us. Big Brother can work both ways and they need to wake up to this if they insist on exploiting every new technology they can to abuse our privacy for their own gain.

    If the Government has nothing to hide, then the Government has nothing to fear from us watching them.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Yes they probably do believe that they are acting in the public good, they'll ride out the same issues, terrorism, child abusers, people sponging off the system (though probably not the MP's who have been caught sponging off the system). The British public will lap it up, occasionally they'll catch a child abuser or maybe even a terrorist and that'll be prove positive that the system works; of course they won't mention the 100's of people's life's that they have ruined with false accusions or the mass data searching excercise that completely undermined people's right to a private life.

  22. 2FishInATank
    Paris Hilton

    @Gov ignores Peers?

    "Write to your MPs, folks. If they don't get anything done, write to your MEP. ECJ can help."

    I'm sure the ECJ can help - however I'm equally sure that their rulings will be 'considered' (ignored) in the same way as they were regarding the retention of DNA samples.....

  23. Steve Kay

    Mr Spoon FTW

    You got it.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    "we are committed to handling it safely and securely"

    I don't care.

    The point is that they shouldn't have it in the first place without a bloody good reason, which they haven't got.

    This is worse than Phorm's reasoning that it's okay to acquire data illegally, providing that you then delete it if you're not allowed to use it. In this case, HM Govt is going to keep it just in case - but never fear, they promise to look after it!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah. Bored. Time for Plan B.

    "We take the protection of their personal information extremely seriously and we are committed to handling it safely and securely."

    I wonder just how insecure and unsafe things have to get before they decide to start listening...

    Let start blowing up CCTV cameras.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Need to Worry

    The authority of this government is being washed away by the tide of recent events like a sandcastle. So I doubt we will need to worry too much about anything they do as I think a general election will soon be upon us (I really don't think Gordon can hang on until next year with his authority so diminished). The question is now whether the Tories will be champions of liberty.

  27. EvilGav

    How Deluded Is Everyone ?

    Of course the current level of surveillance is just fine and dandy, it conforms to the current legal framwork.

    The fact that the current bunch of tossers . . . errr . . . government created the laws is irrelevant, in their eyes.

    We have a situation where a Chief Constable is refusing to adhere to a court order and a government who refuse over-sight by the Upper House. Believe it folks, we have finally reached a fascist, totalitarian state.

    A government that a mere 19% of the population voted for have now so under-mined every civil liberty, law and public trust that I doubt very much that i'll see it return in my life-time, short of a revolution.

    Viva Le Resistance

  28. lglethal Silver badge

    Tory response

    An interesting follow up to this for you el Reg would be to get the Tories reaction to the Lords report, see if they feel the same way as the government and if not whether they'll put on record that they WILL introduce the recommendations of the Lords. Might give some of us more confidence that when we kick Labour out, were not just inviting in people who talk the right talk but walk the same old walk (over the people, generally)...

  29. Chris
    Black Helicopters

    Escape from...Lon

    It's all BS. The "super-elite" as they call them selves are calling the shots on this one. Tory and Labour are both the same, I am not sure if the libs are in their pockets either being told what to do. The Helicopters are coming. "Hello, would you like an RFID chip on the side of your plate of CCTV cameras?"

    Anyone seen escape from NY & LA? Yeah, it's looking that way.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    Turkeys have decided not to vote for Christmas.

    Honestly, it's like letting these wankers vote for their own pay rises - what's the point? They always further their own interests and the expense of those they supposedly represent. Up against the wall the lot of them.

  31. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

    "breaking the trust between Government and the people"?!?!

    To bloody late I'm afraid! That and the expenses hoo-hah, well they are just about on the brink of instigating a revolution, if the Brits weren't so bloody apathetic!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Call me _Mister_ Plisken.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Anonymous Coward

    post facto is not good enough

    "their case to the IPT" - No, thats completely wrong.

    The police should have to demonstrate their case BEFORE they spy on someone. In the US they call this probable cause. The idea that some copper can set up a fishing expedition is outrageous. Naturally all such operations will be successful - they'll just switch targets till they get something interesting.

    But in the meantime innocent people's lives will have been spied upon by police officers without good cause.

    Anyone voting for this should ask themselves how they would feel to learn that the police had been spying on their bedroom habits, or internet usage.

  35. Jimmy

    The government said....

    ""We take the protection of their personal information extremely seriously and we are committed to handling it safely and securely."

    For a spectacular demonstration of the government's interpretation of the phrase "safely and securely" we need look no further than their current predicament caused by the loss of a hard drive containing a tetrabyte of MP's expenses data.

    Given that they fought tooth and nail to resist various FOI requests to make this information public you might reasonably think that the scumbags would have made damned sure that their data was secured. But no, they swallowed the government's "safe and secure" mantra and are now paying a high price for their gullibility and elitism.

    And even when the FOI requests were granted, MPs insisted that they should have the right to edit the data before it was published while at the same time dismissing public concerns about government spying with worn out cliches such as "nothing to hide, nothing to fear".

    We have everything to fear from venal politicians who prefer the assurances of snake-oil salesmen to the considered advice of experts. Come the election we can do what these people fear most: vote for a third party in sufficient numbers so that they can exercise a restraining influence on the extremists of the left and right. As the least corrupt party could the Lib Dems fit the bill?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brown is in a fool's paradise...

    Apart from any other consideration, when Brown and his cronies really do have as near to 100% surveillance as they can get - do they REALLY think they'll be in charge of the process?

    These jackasses couldn't change a light bulb (unless it was on expenses) - you've only to look at the constant data loss scandals to realise they know little of nothing about technology.

    The surveillance data will be under the control of those who run and understand the systems - ultimately THEY'LL be the ones with the power, and the govt will end up among the surveilled - and probably doing as they're told.

  37. David

    Snake oil, anybody?

    "We take the protection of their personal information extremely seriously and we are committed to handling it safely and securely."

    Well, they WOULD say that, wouldn't they?

    NHS and tax office data-protection failings did I hear?

    Child "protection" database next to be hacked, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

  38. blue


    I propose that we should be legally allowed to punch these authoritarian bastards in the face any time we happen upon one of them.

    This will strike a balance between their right to life and our desire to murder them and is therefore fair and resonable.

  39. David Pollard

    @AC - No Need to Worry

    "The question is now whether the Tories will be champions of liberty."

    Isn't the question whether enough folk can be bothered to reclaim the liberties that they have lost and to hold future governments more fully to account for all their actions on behalf of the people?

  40. RW

    Is the real government of the UK the police?

    Title says it all.

    Wakki Jakki is being conned by her cop shop advisers, stupid woman that she is. After all, she is a former teacher of .... political science? no.... theory and practice of state surveillance of innocent citizens? no.... history? no .... database design and security? no. She taught _cooking_. She needs to go back to teaching children how to make omelets.

    It's clear that once Parliament is purged of dross, the next group to be dealt with should be the police.

    [Apologies to Our Divine Moderatrix for using "woman" in a pejorative sense.]

  41. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    "departments routinely consult the Information Commissioner"

    ... and then pay not a blind bit of notice to what he says and go and do what the hell they like, such as treating us all as suspects who are presumed guilty unless we can prove our innocence.

    Contact your MP on

  42. Anonymous Coward

    The Government attitude is now starting to piss me off!

    "The citizen cannot shop around for a service provider with different data protection standards." That is more true than they can possibly know. The Government sets the standard - and a pretty low one it is - for interaction with web services. If it can't get security right when it can throw taxpayer levels of wealth at a problem what chance or possibility does the private sector have.

    The Government is incompetent and should withdraw from the battle. It should reduce it's attempts to mess with subject/citizen ID and focus on getting right that which it is capable of getting, and competent to get, right.

    In the end it is the bill payer who must, axiomatically, foot the bill. I resent, beyond words, some Whitehall, Bank Hall or Town hall clown telling me about how secure things are when sieves provide better protection than the standards and the implementations of the wankers employed by them.

  43. Ted Treen
    Black Helicopters

    I'm becoming concerned....

    There have been times when I have felt it appropriate to remonstrate mildly with those whose vocabulary seems to be limited to basic (very) Anglo-Saxon.

    More and more I now find myself thinking at least, in those very same terms & colloquialisms whenever the current (mal)administration is mentioned.

    Since I am now only too aware of the effect that any mention of the current apology-for-a-government induces in even the most mild-mannered, might I offer sincere apologies to those I have berated unfairly.

    As for the miscreants in the Palace of Westminster, may a herd of dysenteric elephants crap on the entire gang of wankers from an exceedingly great height, and drown the disgusting fuckers in a sea of semi-solid shit.

    There - I'm still perturbed, but I can't think of a better way to express my feelings.

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