back to article Why should the UK pensions watchdog be able to spy on your internet activities? Same reason as the Environment Agency and many more

It has been called the “most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy.” It has not once but twice been found to be illegal. It sparked the largest ever protest of senior lawyers who called it “not fit for purpose.” And now the UK's Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 – better known as the Snooper’s Charter – is …

  1. tip pc Silver badge

    Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

    Those agencies should have to reapply every year and each use should be retrospectively reviewed by a jury with published stats of what they are looking at and convictions based on that data.

    The whole RIPA act should be subject to a sunset clause.

    I suspect if the public knew more about this there would be more concern, especially with the likes of defra, pension agency and others demanding access for spurious reasons.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

      Fat chance of anything remotely as clear and democratic as that happening.

      You only have to look at the narrow minded approach of cops and authorities to the current lockdown to guess at how these agencies will abuse access to everyones data.

      If the police currently are unable to provide the necessary service to these agencies, the police forces should be expanded sufficiently to cope, I'm not in favour of larger and larger police forces but at least they would come under one set of regulations.

      There does still need to be improved oversight and review as to necessity for the act in general, preferably via judicial review.

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

      I don't disagree with the sentiment of your post at all. But I think this is debatable : "I suspect if the public knew more about this there would be more concern". My view is that the wider public don't give a crap because Facebook, cat videos, Alexa, Instacrap and Netflix whilst at the same time being probably more preoccupied with worries about just keeping their heads above water financially.

      Unfortunately I think we're still only at the thin end of the wedge. And yes, whilst I may come off sounding a little "conspiracy theorist" or "prepper mentality" : I do think there is an insidious element of social engineering going on in the background as an enabler.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

        “ My view is that the wider public don't give a crap because Facebook, cat videos, Alexa, Instacrap and Netflix whilst at the same time being probably more preoccupied with worries about just keeping their heads above water financially.”

        It’s the public’s choice to post on Facebook, instagram etc. It’s not their choice to be spied on by a pension regulator.

        DNS security will put a dent in the agencies ability to snoop on internet connectivity. Other measures like vpns and proxies will too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

          Until they unveil a law that makes you automatically guilty if you're found to encrypt your traffic...like the law that can send you to jail for not disclosing your passwords / encryption keys.

          Plausible deniability will be with synonymous with 'instant jail time' soon enough.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

            That's OK providing all MPs voting on it fpublish, a year before voting, their login IDs for all online services they use, thus breaking their contractual agreements to keep these secure.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          VPNs

          Assuming that smart TLAs are not operating VPN endpoints as honeypots. Why struggle to sieve TB of data if you can highlight a few GB of data that people were concerned enough about to use a VPN

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: VPNs

            "Assuming that smart TLAs are not operating VPN endpoints as honeypots."

            This idea of using a 3rd party VPN provider - in those cases what does the 'P' stand for?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: VPNs

            It is not the TLAs that worry me, it is every nosy b'stard in the local council, etc.

            AC because, why not? =?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a little "conspiracy theorist"

        well, I'm in the same club. I don't believe there's a conspiracy. But I do believe, based on observation, that politicians are opportunists, and very sensitive to every opportunity that comes up (never mind the long-term disaster that follows). They WILL grab the current opportunity to introduce some - previously "unpopular" - policies. I mean, we're in REAL EMERGENCY, my fellow citizens! We're ALL fighting (and clapping) against this invisible, ruthless threat, we're all in it together, etc. But I don't blame politicians, I blame people who don't even bother to question even the most blatant, stupid statements and declarations made by politicians.

      3. mbiggs

        Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

        @Aristotles_slow_and_dimwitted_horse

        Quote: "....the wider public don't give a crap...."

        *

        True. But there's a flip side....the so called "bad guys" DO give a crap. They use burner phones, VPNs, internet cafes, hijacked WiFi, private ciphers.....and who knows what other tools to avoid the STASI.

        *

        If you wonder about just how efficient the STASI are TODAY at identifying "bad guys", just recall that almost all the recent terrorist outrages were perpetrated by individuals "already known to the authorities". So much for the power of snooping!!! And the STASI will be LESS efficient under the newly proposed avalanche of new snooping.

        *

        So....the public in general are indifferent to STASI snooping and the loss of privacy. At the same time the so called "bad guys" are no doubt looking forward with anticipation to more opportunities to hack all this new STASI information.....while at the same time the STASI have even lower capabilities than today. Unintended consequences!!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

          Ah, but did you ever see the "bad guys" and the STASI in the same room?

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

            Yes, but now that I think of it, there was a mirror in the room...even though it was a one-way mirror....

        2. 96percentchimp

          Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

          In a variation of Godwin's Law, I'm inclined to overlook any commentard who uses a loaded term like STASI in capitals.

        3. schermer

          Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

          Given the fact that the STASI was dismantled some years ago, it would be appropiate to find a more fitting Anglo-American acronyme.

          1. Toni the terrible

            Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

            And your suggestions is? GCHQ perhaps?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Quote: "....the wider public don't give a crap...."

          > True.

          Do you have any evidence to support that? In the past, whenever the wider public are surveyed about their privacy being violated by state agencies , the vast majority were strongly against. But the government just take powers away without asking.

          When those to whom we as individuals grant limited powers to govern, choose to abuse their power, it becomes right action to bring things back in balance, if necessary breaking laws that should not be.

          Lawful protest or appealing to so-called judgement / oversight don't work at this stage. Instead collect names and gather evidence against those who are believed guilty. Hold people's courts, put them on trial (most likely in absentia) in front of a people's jury.

          1. SWCD

            Honestly, you're too kind to the general public.

            In the house a bit more than I am of late, so with a burner Facebook account I started flicking through what was there. Facebook is overflowing with idiots unable to think logically, and who sweep each other along in emotional bursts of "Nothing to fear, nothing to hide".. Or "What do you mean we shouldn't be locked down indefinitely, are you trying to kill your own granny/mother/sister/cousin".

            The level of intelligence/ability to think sinks to the lowest common denominator - it definitely isn't the other way around!

      4. SWCD

        Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

        Installing Windows the other day, after I'd set my "super memorable password" (cringe), I chuckled when the girl helping out said if I put my wireless key in I'd get my cat videos.

        I promptly pressed "Yes" to get to them that bit quicker (God knows what I was agreeing to, I doubt anything important, I've got nothing to hide anyway so I've got nothing to fear).

    3. Christoph Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

      Inform people when, what, by whom, and for what reason their personal private data has been accessed.

      When the investigation has finished, or if it's ongoing then after a fixed time unless an extension is granted by a judge, give the person intruded upon full details of the intrusion.

      Yes, yes, you can have your exclusion for "National Security" aka Political Embarrassment. But for the vast majority of those agencies there is no justification whatever for not informing people other than that it will embarrass the snoopers.

    4. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

      What is wrong with a warrant?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

        Inconvenience. That's why we have all this nonsense.

    5. Mark 65

      Re: Sunset clauses and jury oversight are needed.

      The problem that these idiot politicians are creating is that with every further privacy encroaching step they take they push society further towards totally encrypted communications, VPNs, Signal messenger etc. The whole "going black" issue is entirely of their own creation. If their access was warranted (both aspects) and proportionate the issue would not exist. Make all my data visible to someone investigating dog shit on the pavement and you'll see fuck all.

  2. Blane Bramble

    the five agencies “are increasingly unable to rely on local police forces to investigate crimes on their behalf,”

    So fix the actual problem, don't give them powers they shouldn't need.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      By this logic... since U can’t rely on the local police to investigate a crime, what do I do?

      Go round their house with a Molotov?

      1. Aqua Marina
        Flame

        "Go round their house with a Molotov?"

        Your mention of a cocktail has just flagged you up with Customs and Excise to check that the correct duty has been paid for the alcohol*

        *Yes it's stupid but this is the type of 2+2=5 outcomes that transpire when surveillance is granted to ladder climbing jobsworths looking for infractions to go after to help boos their career.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          “Go round their house with a Molotov?"

          And PC Plod will assess if that was an essential journey or not.

        2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
          Coat

          Chicken farmers will get swept up in that net as well.

          Mine's the hippy 60's one with feathers round the collar.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Also,if my car is broken into, and the cops say they don't have the resources to investigate, shouldn't I be given blanket access to everyones internet data so I can investigate myself?

    2. Whitter

      Yup: the line "for no reason other that it will make bureaucrats' lives easier" isn't directly true, in that it should be "for no reason other that it will cost to fund sufficient policing"

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        We will eventually end up with many independant investigation branches each with their own little fiefdom and limited human investigation budget, the police will be just be collecting people to question on behalf of these agencies.

        To save costs managers will start using 'Not our remit, ignore it' and shortly after we'll have a situation like 911 when all the agencies had all the pieces but not enough of the picture to do anything useful except go after the low hanging fruit > Joe Public.

        This would have been a 1984 comedy sketch a decade or 3 ago.

        +++ Environment agency notice

        +++ Citizen, you were monitored purchasing a chocolate bar from $somewhere$ on $datetimelastweek$ +++ We have no record of you disposing of the wrapper at any approved waste facility (smart bin with camera tied to phone geolocation info & street cams) +++ Please provide evidence of continued ownership or disposal within 14 days to avoid an automatic £50 fine.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        @Whitter

        "for no reason other that it will cost to fund sufficient policing"

        We already do. Unfortunately their job has expanded beyond being a police force, which rounds up criminals and investigates crime, and now must fill in various forms in triplicate and police the internet of bad thoughts. They must be PC and by that I dont mean 'police constable' and their effectiveness is further blunted by ASBO's and a justice system not dealing with criminals.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: @Whitter

          > and a justice system not dealing with criminals.

          Ah, another service that is massively underfunded for the demands that are being put on it. And that's before we consider Grayling and his "improvements".

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: @Whitter

            A criminal justice system that sends out posters telling parents to report their children as terrorists if they use linux

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: @Whitter

              We should never have let those in power know about computers with anything more than a CLI or show them anything prettier than fanfold reports.

        2. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: @Whitter

          "They must be PC and by that I dont mean 'police constable' "

          If you mean *not* racist homophobic xenophobic scum, then that's a good thing.

          If you don't think that's a good thing... then that says a lot about you. The family of Stephen Lawrence will want a word.

          1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

            Re: @Whitter

            "If you mean *not* racist homophobic xenophobic scum, then that's a good thing."

            Indeed. But how did they end up visiting a feminist who disagreed online with a transgender activist?

            1. Glen 1 Silver badge

              Re: @Whitter

              I would need to know more about the case you were referring to.

              Don't get me wrong, there is such a thing as taking offence where none is intended.

              However, saying things like "Trans women are not women" comes under a similar heading as "Black/Asian people can never be British". It's a shame more racist folk aren't locked up.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: @Whitter

                @Glen 1

                However, saying things like "Trans women are not women" comes under a similar heading as "Black/Asian people can never be British". It's a shame more racist folk aren't locked up.

                Oh wow you hit the controversial one there. Is a scientifically and factually identified person with gender dysphoria another gender because their mental disorder tells them so? And at what point does this stop? Trans species, race, age and then the idea of 60+ genders etc.

                I wish I could find the link to the interview where the interviewer asks college students if they would accept him as (gender, race, age, height) becoming increasingly absurd and watching these students squirm with reality and the self identification becoming further apart.

                1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                  Re: @Whitter

                  "Is a scientifically and factually identified person with gender dysphoria another gender because their mental disorder tells them so?"

                  I should point out (as you no doubt have had this conversation before) gender is distinct from biological sex. The "many genders" come from not wanting to label themselves with other people's narrow definitions. What do they call themselves? Whatever the hell they want, what difference does it make? They are still human beings, despite what more conservative folks think. It's like asking a pair of chopsticks which one is the fork? If you have to ask, you don't understand enough to ask the question.

                  I find it amusing that gender dysphoria is classed as a mental illness (as homosexuality used to be), but believing the voices in someone else's head is called "freedom of religion".

                  As for the "Identify as race, age, height" question. Its a legit question.

                  At least with gender dysphoria there are cases where brain scans come back closer to an opposite gender baseline. Can you make a similar case for race, height etc?

                  There is also the question of cultural appropriation vs assimilation. Are people from mixed race backgrounds *permitted* to choose which culture they identify with more? Or do they just have to live with whatever *you* (as a proxy for society) label them based on their complexion?

                  Sidenote: People who "identify" as a different hair colour, or eye colour can already do stuff about it thanks to technology, and no one gives a shit. Hell, people get cosmetic surgery, and some people feel its a symbol of status. *shrug*

                  Gender reassignment surgery should carry no more stigma than a boob job.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: @Whitter

                    @Glen 1

                    "I should point out (as you no doubt have had this conversation before) gender is distinct from biological sex"

                    Thats fine to say but entirely dances around answering my questions. We are talking about a medical mental condition 'gender dysphoria' and dysphoria medical conditions also lead to trans species, race, age and then the idea of 60+ genders etc.

                    If a schizophrenic insists the world is a particular way because of their medical condition do you agree with them and demand society do so? Or is it a medical condition where we want to help them with their condition?

                    "As for the "Identify as race, age, height" question. Its a legit question.

                    At least with gender dysphoria there are cases where brain scans come back closer to an opposite gender baseline. Can you make a similar case for race, height etc?"

                    I have no idea if the brain scans do the same for race/height/etc but would you expect the brain to work differently if so? They used to think the brain worked differently for races, now that is considered racism. The argument of we are all equal took issue with the idea that men and women think differently. But if brain scans can 'gender' someone then some old sexists may have been right.

                    On the plus side it does mean that if someone wants to transition for medical reasons (taxpayers dime) then there is a sure way to identify those who truly are miswired for their body.

                    "There is also the question of cultural appropriation vs assimilation. Are people from mixed race backgrounds *permitted* to choose which culture they identify with more? Or do they just have to live with whatever *you* (as a proxy for society) label them based on their complexion?"

                    This isnt so much a question as the idiots crying appropriation can shut up and get lost. I dont see them complaining about Asians wearing western clothing nor our language being used worldwide and if they did complain about it I would still tell them to shut up. It is sharing. Racial biases aside we all pick and choose throughout history from each other and we teach the number zero in math because of it.

                    "Sidenote: People who "identify" as a different hair colour, or eye colour can already do stuff about it thanks to technology, and no one gives a shit. Hell, people get cosmetic surgery, and some people feel its a symbol of status. *shrug*

                    Gender reassignment surgery should carry no more stigma than a boob job."

                    I agree about the stigma. Surgery should be at their own cost unless there can be some proven medical need. Unfortunately we have kids who used to identify as super (wo)man identifying as the other gender, being medically experimented on due to ignoring reality in favour of a mental disorder and then suing the health system for doing it.

                    However this does not excuse the self identification crowd with reality and the self identification becoming further apart.

                    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                      Re: @Whitter

                      "We are talking about a medical mental condition 'gender dysphoria' and dysphoria medical conditions also lead to trans species, race, age and then the idea of 60+ genders etc."

                      I already answered the 60+ gender part. I answer to the others: If it's not hurting anyone else, what's the problem?

                      "men and women think differently"

                      People want different things. A lot of time there is an overlap. (Eg Gay man vs straight women), and that informs our actions. It doesn't imply one is more capable than the other. Wanting different things doesn't imply that those wants are more or less valid than anyone elses. Thus stuff like maternity leave.

                      "we all pick and choose throughout history from each other"

                      except not from different genders, according to you.

                      You compare gender to race, then say that cultural appropriation (ie the main reason identifying as another race is problematic) is bullshit spouted by prejudiced folk... If only you could take that next logical step and apply it to gender. If not, perhaps you should, as you say, "shut up and get lost"

                      "at their own cost unless there can be some proven medical need"

                      The "medical need" is that their brain is fine, but their body is wrong. Suffering is a medical need. If there was a surgical solution to PTSD, would you class *that* as a medical need? Is there a "medical need" for antidepressants? (sarc) FFS. Just because there are no/few physical symptoms, doesn't mean it's not real. See also: Body Integrity Disphoria. Especially the Prognosis section

                      As for funding, that is very much country specific. I know in Canada, there are insurance providers that cover "The final Op", but not the intermediate feminising/masculinizing surgeries. That's not "their own cost" but it *is* covered.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: @Whitter

                        @Glen 1

                        "I already answered the 60+ gender part. I answer to the others: If it's not hurting anyone else, what's the problem?"

                        So we should scrap self identifying then. Because it is hurting people as per criminals sent to the wrong prison for identifying as a woman. The restriction of freedom of speech due to the imposing of make believe over reality. The same issues which make trans age, species, etc make believe also applies to self identification.

                        According you you we can identify legitimate trans through brain scans so we should surely mandate them before allowing a change and only if they go through the mutilation/surgery? And that would of course make them trans gender not the actual desired gender (science hasnt got that far yet).

                        "People want different things. A lot of time there is an overlap. (Eg Gay man vs straight women), and that informs our actions. It doesn't imply one is more capable than the other. Wanting different things doesn't imply that those wants are more or less valid than anyone elses. Thus stuff like maternity leave."

                        Nope sorry no backtracking. You claim mens brains and womens brains work differently (as used to be the accepted belief until it became sexist). I am not interested in fantasy but fact. You claim (I wont argue either way) that brain scans identify male and female. So that would explain the differences which may now be classed as sexism.

                        If on the other hand you wish to blur the lines with overlap then the idea of trans being identified via brainscan is not correct. Maybe its only part of it. But does this justify assisting in self mutilation? Allowing the demand for the world to change for a very minority suffering a mental disorder?

                        "except not from different genders, according to you."

                        Did I say that? Pink used to be for a boy. Men wore heels. I am not sure where you attribute this to me.

                        "You compare gender to race"

                        No. I am discussing trans because you started the transgender topic and I am screwing with you because you dont seem to have defined a boundary between reality and not. Which is actually why the trans topic is so difficult because it is against the reality identified. I too dont care except for it being PC enforced which is then in the realm of dictating 'reality' instead of understanding reality.

                        "If only you could take that next logical step and apply it to gender"

                        Ok. So effeminate men and masculine women (tomboy's more commonly known). Not mutilated anyone. No permanent scarring and no removal from reality. You have gone much further which is why you are struggling with this discussion.

                        "The "medical need" is that their brain is fine, but their body is wrong."

                        No. That doesnt respond to my statement- 'at their own cost unless there can be some proven medical need' because you initially said brainscans can identify these people but have now greyed the area. A gay (wo)man is not trans. A trans person is someone struggling with the mental disorder. So it needs to be medically sound to mutilate the person to actually medically help them, and that has not been demonstrated yet to my knowledge. Same suicide rate as before change. Kids being experimented on and suing health systems for doing it. And then the abuse of a mental disorder of people self identifying (and dictating others must comply).

                        "If there was a surgical solution to PTSD, would you class *that* as a medical need?"

                        And how would we know it was a solution? Because it would be trialled to see if it actually solves anything.

                        "Just because there are no/few physical symptoms, doesn't mean it's not real."

                        I never said it wasnt real. You stated a trans woman is a woman and I am showing you how unclear cut that is. Anyway good news I found it! The entertainment of watching people lie so hard about reality and then struggle to put a boundary between the lie and reality-

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfO1veFs6Ho

                    2. Glen 1 Silver badge

                      Re: @Whitter

                      "If a schizophrenic insists the world is a particular way because of their medical condition do you agree with them and demand society do so? Or is it a medical condition where we want to help them with their condition?"

                      That's called religion. If they have evidence, it's called science.

                      Insisting *the world* is a particular way (with or without evidence), is different from insisting *you are treated* a particular way. Some folk don't like parsnips. I'm not about to send them to "conversion therapy" to convince them they are wrong.

                      Refusing to call someone by their preferred pronoun is such a petty thing. It's like objecting to BAME people asking to be being treated the same as white folk. There shouldn't *be* a difference, yet here we are.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: @Whitter

                        @Glen 1

                        "That's called religion. If they have evidence, it's called science."

                        And once the world was ruled by religion. We can see how destructive it is to allow such a mental disorder rule our lives. And we pulled away and gained so much knowledge. Now we are back to discussing a tiny minority dictating how we can discuss only their version of reality vs the real world.

                        "Insisting *the world* is a particular way (with or without evidence), is different from insisting *you are treated* a particular way."

                        Wrong. Gonna make the point now- I am god, so bow down puny mortal and look after me like a king of old. At what time shall I expect you to arrive?

                        Or maybe I should insist on being treated as a single mother (I am male, in a relationship and no kids) so cough up that welfare money. Or does reality trump the way I identify myself?

                        "Refusing to call someone by their preferred pronoun is such a petty thing."

                        I will agree to that. However the expectation or worse the enforcement that we must call someone by their preferred pronoun is dangerous and wrong to whatever extent of self identifying they use.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Whitter

                However, saying things like "Trans women are not women" comes under a similar heading as "Black/Asian people can never be British"

                No, it really doesn't. If I cut off my balls, invert my penis, and get oestrogen shots it doesn't make me a woman any more than covering myself with feathers and clucking makes me a chicken. Just because some fucking snowflake wishes it to be so doesn't make it so.

                The second case is clear-cut racism as the qualifiers for "what nationality am I?" don't seem to include race but rather things like birth, ancestry, residency etc.

                1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                  Re: @Whitter

                  "it doesn't make me a woman"

                  It doesn't make you female, but with good enough "remodelling", how would anyone tell the difference? Heteronormative behavior can be learned. Or are you of the opinion that women who can't have children (for whatever reason) are not real women? People who have lived most of their lives as women are still not be considered as such by prejudiced... *ahem* people.

                  As for the nationality vs race thing. 40% of UK doctors are BAME (that's the current PC term in the UK for "non white"). Yet still, there are shouts of "I don't want no furrun doctor" from racists, even if the person was born an raised here. It's *no* different to "I don't want no man in the ladies toilets" when referring to a transwoman.

                  The irony is the Eastern european migrants - that were such a contentious issue during the EU referendum. They and their children will pass as english born and bred once they pick up the local accents.

                  Nationality is a just question of paperwork, gender should be also (and *IS*, in the UK since 2005)

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: @Whitter

            @Glen 1

            "If you mean *not* racist homophobic xenophobic scum, then that's a good thing."

            Sorry but I am not an authoritarian and I believe in freedom. I may disagree with someones opinion but believe they should be free to say it. PC has gone beyond the outrageous to creating outrage.

            1. Glen 1 Silver badge

              Re: @Whitter

              "believe they should be free to say it"

              Possibly, if your opinion means jack shit - as armchair warriors such as ourselves. People can curate their own echo chamber as they see fit (look at twitter as an example). Just because you're free to say it doesn't mean people have to listen.

              However, when it's your job to protect people, (teachers, police, etc) you don't shouldn't get to pick and choose which people. To say otherwise is a return to Jim Crow and its equivalents. If the opposite of Jim Crow is PC, then civilised folk should at least aspire to be a little more PC.

              Sidenote: Messaging folk directly (@ing them) with slurs/rape/death threats isn't free speech. It's harassment.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: @Whitter

                @Glen 1

                "Possibly, if your opinion means jack shit - as armchair warriors such as ourselves. People can curate their own echo chamber as they see fit (look at twitter as an example). Just because you're free to say it doesn't mean people have to listen."

                Actually that is my point. You dont have to listen, so there is no need for enforcing PC speech. In doing so we have an echo chamber already of looking for offence and using PC as an excuse to attack people. Some armchair warriors looking as far back as they can to dig up anything they can construe as 'wrong' under the current witch hunt.

                "Sidenote: Messaging folk directly (@ing them) with slurs/rape/death threats isn't free speech. It's harassment."

                I dont take issue with that (slurs being more grey area. A slur in one situation is a friendly greeting in another).

                1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                  Re: @Whitter

                  "Actually that is my point. You don't have to listen, so there is no need for enforcing PC speech."

                  It depends on the power dynamic. Being the racist/homophobic/wants-control-of-women's-bodys uncle in the corner that people can laugh off doesn't matter. People can chose to not use his businesses as a result. In fact, it's quite handy that they sign post themselves so they can be avoided. *cough*Wetherspoons*cough*

                  That uncle being the chief of police is a problem. That uncle running for public office is a problem.

                  When such people are *WRITING/ENACTING THE FUCKING LAWS* thats a *MASSIVE* problem. As you don't get a choice not to listen to laws.

                  "no need for enforcing PC speech"

                  You say you have no issue with enforcing harassment laws, Yet @ing people with non "PC speech" is precisely that. As for not @ing and just using it in conversation, see above.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: @Whitter

                    @Glen 1

                    "It depends on the power dynamic"

                    PC enforcement is abusing the power dynamic. As you seem to say even if you didnt mean to- "When such people are *WRITING/ENACTING THE FUCKING LAWS* thats a *MASSIVE* problem."

                    "You say you have no issue with enforcing harassment laws"

                    Actually you need to read what I said. I agreed with enforcing laws against direct threats of death and rape. It is the direct threat against another I have issue with. It is non-PC if someone looking for offence can take it, which is too far and just wrong.

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Dont forget , the government has cut police numbers over the past 10 yrs, and bought in new laws for the police to enforce.

      So it kind of fits a pattern if I was a tinfoil wearing conspircy loon.....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        > bought in new laws for the police to enforce

        But since those new laws include things like: Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition) Act 1998

        It isn't clear how much effort the police have to put into investigating prohibited nuclear explosions

        1. ItWasn'tMe

          Wonder what the detection stat's are for that?

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Joke

            Well, the only person I can think of who has been letting off Nukes in recent times is a portly millennial over in South East Asia. So, if they want to nab him, they should send a couple of PCSOs in Yellow Vests, armed with tasers.

            1. Dr Scrum Master
              Headmaster

              North East Asia.

              1. Toni the terrible
    4. eamonn_gaffey

      To be fair, even if Plod had the resource their historical clear up rates are so dire I'm not sure it would make much difference (not entirely their fault as they have been badly blunted by the PC brigade of smart arse law people and misguided liberals) . I stopped believing in the fantasy of someone being there to help years ago - everyone for themselves now unfortunately.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Rights are like sand

    Slipping through out finders, one grain at a time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

    In other news:

    "Coronavirus: Social restrictions 'to remain for rest of year'

    ...

    "...for at least [AT LEAST] the rest of the year,(...)"

    "This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear, (...)"

    "So we have to accept that we are working with a disease that we are going to be with globally... for the foreseeable future."

    And now, children, replace "disease" with "surveillance". Those with fond memories, can use word "terrorism", or "war on terror" instead. Ah, those were the days of evil wrongdoers! Every terrorist, every virus, every surveillance measure is terrible, terrible tragedy, etc etc. And yet, I can see a great, great social and business opportunity here, myfriends... There's never been better time to bury some news and to introduce some regulations!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

      Except with the current economic model, no government in the West is going to maintain indefinite lockdown because of lack of revenue and no infrastructure to maintain industry without an economy.

      Using the pandemic as an excuse for more control is one thing but short of staging a coup and putting Boris in a uniform, the lockdown won't continue any longer than it has to.

      Expect the use of pandemics as the reason for needing more facial recognition, full time location tracking or other surveillance du jour but they still need revenue (for the time being).

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

        I may have to eat some of my words; I live in Spain, Sanchez has just announced that even after the lockdown has finished, the borders will remain closed to tourism and restict travel for the rest of the year if I understand correctly.

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

          Because naturally you can't trust people in the rest of the world not to have the virus.

          Same reason Portugal probably won't be reopening the borders with Spain or anywhere else any time soon either.

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

            So much for the EU, any trouble and its each country for itself.

            Until it comes to pay for it all of course.

        2. Mark 65

          Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

          Locking the borders for longer is just logical. Given most don't trust the numbers coming out of China would you want to open up to travellers from there? It is easier to just keep them shut rather than have to preclude people from certain countries and be able to trace everyone entering's port of origin or detect picking up nasties on the way.

      2. whitepines Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into govt orgs

        but they still need revenue

        And when the companies and developers creating that revenue dry up because they won't work in a backward little nation like Blighty that wants to pretend it is anything more than a poor English copy of a much more powerful Asian surveillance dictatorship?

        Oh, right. Consequences are something new and undiscovered for politicians.

  5. CharlesStreet

    Big Brother Watch

    This level of surveillance is becoming increasingly intrusive. I really wonder where we are going with this. I Suggest more of us become supporters of Big Brother Watch - for around £25 P.A.

    https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big Brother Watch

      I would but they'll see that I signed up.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Big Brother Watch

      I think these organizations are well worth supporting, but at the risk of seeming quite cynical, I have to ask whether they have an effect. Oh, they do incredibly useful work in looking at and protesting and in some cases launching legal attacks at surveillance programs. But their efforts haven't seemed to stop any of the major abuses being passed, nor have they managed to get increased public support. The legal cases seem to keep coming out on their side without getting anything changed. I hope that, with sufficient support, they can get more public interest and action such as protests together because that seems like the only method that hasn't really been tried yet. Sadly, it seems very difficult to organize and with a tenuous hope of success as well. My major hope is for some political group to start to realize the importance of this, as I haven't seen anything above a single politician understanding the importance of privacy, so my vote is pretty much pointless on this issue.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Big Brother Watch

      Are you sure that's a good idea?

      55 Tufton Street

      Perhaps Liberty might be a better choice.

      1. CharlesStreet

        Re: Big Brother Watch

        Sorry wondered if I'm missing the point somewhere.

        Big Brother Watch

        Chinaworks, 100 Black Prince Road

        London

        SE1 7SJ

        Nowhere near Tufton Street!

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Big Brother Watch

          As mentioned in the interview, they were going to move out and they have done, but the point is it's still a Matthew Elliot-funded policy pushing organisation, the same Matthew Elliot who runs a whole load of other policy pushing organisations like TaxPayers Alliance, Business for Britain, Conservative Friends of Russia, IEA, Brexit Central, etc...

          Not so fluffy now, are they? (Or maybe you think that's fine in which case go ahead.)

          1. CharlesStreet
            Meh

            Re: Big Brother Watch

            Sorry! Didn't clock the interview till after I'd posted. As you say if there are issues with BBW then there is always Liberty!

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    In case anybody wondered this is what was meant by "taking back control". Any voter who thought it was they themselves getting that control had been seriously bamboozled. It was only ever about government getting out from under the supervision of the ECJ. The ECHR will be next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you really think the remaining EU members aren't also doing this?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Possibly true, though their systems would in theory need proper oversight and compatability with ECHR and so on.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          And the ECJ which is what Boris has now escaped.

      2. Paul Smith

        The remaining members of the EU are the ones that brought in the charter of human rights that the UK refused to sign up to. The remaining members of the EU are the ones that brought in the European Court of Justice that among other things allows any EU citizen the right to challenge any EU government on anything. A court that the UK has a poor history with and has been trying to get out from under for years. The remaining members of the EU are the ones that brought in GDPR that guarantees the data privacy rights of all EU citizens, rights which the snoopers charter completely ignores. I lived in the UK for many years and loved it there, but it is not the same country any more. People used to fight for their rights.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Fortunately the ECJ and ECHR did such a good job preventing Poland and Hungary's current Nazi governments

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          The remaining members of the EU are the ones that brought in the charter of human rights that the UK refused to sign up to

          If by "charter of human rights" you mean the European Convention on Human Rights it was drawn up by the Council of Europe long before the EU existed. The Council of Europe itself was proposed by the UK (Winston Churchill) after WW2 and although there is some overlap with EU membership it is a distinct organization, and the UK is still a member.

          The remaining members of the EU are the ones that brought in the European Court of Justice that among other things allows any EU citizen the right to challenge any EU government on anything.

          The ECJ (or more correctly the CJEU) is the supreme court that rules on EU law, just as the UK Supreme Court does for UK law. Ordinary citizens cannot appeal to the CJEU, only courts of member nations can do so. Its job is to rule on whether national law is compatible with EU law, and is not specific to human rights.

          You seem to be confusing it with the European Court of Human Rights, to which any European citizen can turn for a judgement on matters of Human Rights within Europe. The UK is still a member of that, too, because it isn't an EU body. It has 47 members, the EU has 27.

          A court that the UK has a poor history with and has been trying to get out from under for years.

          Which one? The UK is no longer subject to the CJEU, it is still subject to the ECHR. There have certainly been controversial judgements handed down by the ECHR which the UK has disagreed with, often because it seems to put the individual rights of criminals ahead of those of their victims.

          If you're going to speak in favour of the EU you should at least learn what it is actually responsible for, and not blindly give it credit for anything with "Europe" in its name, even when it has nothing to do with the EU.

          1. G-I-R-Y

            If by "charter of human rights" you mean the European Convention on Human Rights it was drawn up by the Council of Europe long before the EU existed.

            --> I have no investigatory powers myself but I suspect he means the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU). Which the UK indeed opted out of. Google PROTOCOL (No 30) ON THE APPLICATION OF THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO POLAND AND TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

            ...

            If you're going to speak in favour of the EU you should at least learn what it is actually responsible for, and not blindly give it credit for anything with "Europe" in its name, even when it has nothing to do with the EU.

            --> Maybe Google 'pot kettle black' while you're at it...

      3. Stork Silver badge

        To various extents, depending on local culture and capabilities. I would expect the German agencies being relatively careful, as the country's history makes overreach a hard sell. In Portugal I believe most efforts are on tax evasion, but they have to be careful not to offend someone important (Socrates spent time in jail). I don't see budget for large scale stuff.

        In Denmark I expect it to be quite targeted, again due to budget. And the police admitted that the extensive logs they had access to was actually of limited use

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Whats the sketch from Yes Minister about some Eu rule:

          The Germans will love it

          The French will ignore it

          The Spanish and Italians will be too incompetent to implement it

          Only the British will object to it

          1. Toni the terrible

            the British will Gold Plate it so much that it becomes a reason for Brexit

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    Sales and use of VPN's has rocketed.

    Note:

    Not everyone is a super crim or ever doing anything wrong (that deserves jail time) in their lives but just don't want all and sundry prying into every detail of their lives.

    HMG, Google, ZuckFart and the rest can go [redacted] [redacted] as far as I'm concerned.

    Bring on the mandatory wearing of masks. What price Facial recog then eh?

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: In other news

      Bring on the mandatory wearing of masks. What price Facial recog then eh?

      They will just insist that our face masks have our social security number on them.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: In other news

        Anyone know Boris' NI number? Or perhaps a random selection of MP's NI's would be better. Too easy to detect if everyone uses the same number.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: In other news

          Also chief execs of all the outsourcing companies, heads of all the agencies with these powers, judges, senior plod. A much bigger pool in which to find a close physical match for the cameras to try & differentiate.

          Add in a way of spoofing their phone IDs and we'll only have to wait a little while for the next 'unique' personal identifier to come along.

          Of course they could just end up banning 'impersonation for the purposes of anonymous travel'

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: In other news

      And in other news: all new facemasks require visible barcodes. What do you have to hide, citizen?

      Meh, enough of this creeping idiocy... as soon as the lockdown's lifted, I'm emigrating.

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: In other news

        "as soon as the lockdown's lifted, I'm emigrating."

        Out of curiosity: where to?

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: In other news

          Russia deserves consideration - if you can master the language, which is mandatory for immigrants.

          About 30 years ago the great SF writer James Hiogan wrote a novel set in a near future in which the USA and Russia had swapped roles. The USA had become a bureaucratic totalitarian nightmare, while Russia had emerged from the Soviet era into a period of liberty.

          Sometimes SF writers are so accurate that it almost seems they are clairvoyant.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: In other news

            Apologies for the typo: it should be "James Hogan".

            1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

              Re: In other news

              What is the book's title, please?

              1. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: In other news

                Alas and dammit, I was afraid someone would ask. A quick search of what details I can find online has failed to identify the book I was thinking of. I think it was one of Hogan's later books, written perhaps in the 1990s. I moved on from him about then, so it's been about 20 years - and my memory isn't what it used to be.

                Apologies.

              2. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: In other news

                Since I got nowhere online, I thought for a while and then tried a prehistoric option: my own book shelves.

                It's called "The Mulitplex Man" (1992).

                1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

                  Re: In other news

                  Thanks! I did search in all the usual places but I was getting nowhere before I asked, honest guv.

                  1. Archtech Silver badge

                    Re: In other news

                    Well, it wouldn't be reasonable to expect you to search my bookshelves.

                    1. Toni the terrible

                      Re: In other news

                      with the surveilance we should be able to search your book shelf, and if not it will be unlawful to maintain a library of books without the TLAs being able to know what you have - I mean you might have porn or some banned text...

                2. Archtech Silver badge

                  Re: In other news

                  Having reread "The Multiplex Man", guess what I find on page 238?

                  “But suppose we had the ability to predispose an entire population to exhibiting more desirable and compliant attitudes, say by introducing suitable chemical agents on a mass scale – which could be accomplished by any of several means”.

                  What are the odds on Bill Gates having read Hogan's SF novel 30 years ago?

          2. 96percentchimp

            Re: In other news

            If you think Putin's Russia is a beacon of liberty then I can confirm that you're already living in a fantasy world.

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: In other news

          Germany

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: In other news

          Maybe Los Testigos. Or one of the uninhabited Pacific islands. Places without mains electricity tend not to have many CCTV cameras ... Use the new satellites for Internet access - should be sufficiently difficult to trace user & location.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: In other news

            "Or one of the uninhabited Pacific islands".

            Be careful to pick one that won't be under water in a few years.

            Your remind me of a story I read in the papers 20-30 years ago. An elderly but well-heeled American couple wanted to retire somewhere really, really safe. So they spent years researching everything, from geography and politics to economics and medical services.

            Finally they chose their ideal retirement home and moved there in 1981.

            The Falkland Islands!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: In other news

              "Or one of the uninhabited Pacific islands".

              Be careful to pick one that won't be under water in a few years.

              You mean like the Maldives, that has built several new airports recently, with the help of China, only to get stuffed by the corona virus. Expect them to hold another cabinet meeting under water next year, because they need to claim they are drowning again in order to pull in the lost tourist money.

      2. Toni the terrible

        Re: In other news

        Where to?

    3. Toni the terrible

      Re: In other news

      China already has systems that mean face masks unless full face will not help. They are also working on systems that will identify you even if you had no head.

  8. Mark192 Bronze badge

    10 years from now it'll be rubber stamping by the JCs as the bodies applying will know what to put on the forms and the JCs view this as routine box ticking work rather than probing further and asking difficult questions.

    No malice or conspiracy needed, just human nature.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "No malice or conspiracy needed, just human nature."

      One and the same.

  9. uro

    Great, more personal data leakage from UkGov agencies.

    That's another 5 UKGov agencies where personal data can leak to unscrupulous actors, we'll see more targetted spam, phishing and data being sold on the darknet.

    The whole RIPA act is a massive breach of human rights, it's RIPE for being abused by anyone with access to it, meanwhile the IPC only has 50 people to check up on those who already have access, this is yet another UKGov scheme that is poorly thought out, poorly legislated, poorly implemented and massively understaffed to be checked effectively - all this ontop of breaking the human rights act.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Great, more personal data leakage from UkGov agencies.

      Nope it's been thought out, legislated, and implemented exactly as desired. Provide an "oversight" office so those challenged in the thinking department don't object, knowing full well it can never do anything to actually prevent these massive overreaches.

    2. The First Dave Silver badge

      Re: Great, more personal data leakage from UkGov agencies.

      "That's another 5 UKGov agencies _that are_ unscrupulous actors,"

      There, fixed that for you.

  10. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Joke

    UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UKNACE)

    Someone has a sense of humour somewhere in Whitehall......

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      No one else may snoop. Whitehall only.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        The state claims a monopoly on surveillance, as previously on violence

        "Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state".

        - Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation”

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Humour

      Well, they're the ones who have something to laugh about.

    3. MCMLXV
      Joke

      Hmm...

      UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UKNACE)

      I thought counter eavesdropping meant listening in on a customer's conversation with the shop assistant at the till...

  11. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    All your data are belong to us

    It's quite simple, if you don't want them to know about it, don't put it online. So far they have not yet managed to develop a mind-probe. Pretty soon your local Neighbourhood Vigilante,... err Watch will also have access and that bossy busybody at #33 will know all about your browsing habits and be using them to blackmail you into conforming and becoming a "good neighbour". There have been so many cases of Police misusing their access to data that the government seems to think that giving everyone access is a good idea. Well, I'm sure that will bite them when the first case of a Ministers "private" data going public happens. Then there will be a mad scramble to limit access again.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: All your data are belong to us

      "don't put it online"

      So deal in cash only. You'll have to keep in under your mattress because you're not going to find an actual branch anywhere close by.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: All your data are belong to us

        Until they abolish cash.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: All your data are belong to us

          Barter.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: All your data are belong to us

        "So deal in cash only."

        Currently, few shops will take cash. Well, most don't outright refuse cash but they strongly encouraging card payments only, contactless where possible.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: All your data are belong to us

          Currently, few shops will take cash. Well, most don't outright refuse cash but they strongly encouraging card payments only, contactless where possible.

          Overcharged at the supermarket autocheckout today, I had to go to the counter for refund. I had my card out for swiping but got handed cash instead - I've not used cash in some time, and wondered in these pandemic times, how many dirty paws these slivers of metal had been through.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: All your data are belong to us

            Think you got it bad from a bit of change? Try working in a shop where you have to handle it all day. Trust me, you soon learn to not touch your face even before a pandemic.

            Uck, and some of the smelly customers too.. you would be amazed at how many people have no sense of personal hygiene and you're left dealing with a customer who even laughs and jokes about themselves not having showered in months (and smells like a cat litter box, and stinks like hell).

            So.. yup wash those hands!

          2. xyz098

            Re: All your data are belong to us

            Before the advent of pressed steel coins with a coloured plating Real Money (TM) used to be made from silver and copper or alloys thereof. Which had the useful side effect of being antibacterial and antiviral.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: All your data are belong to us

      It's not only about data that you put online. It's also about data that you might look at online. So if you looked at a cat video followed by information on plant nutrients and then browsed alarm clocks on Amazon, you'll be tagged as a person who intends to make a fertilizer based time-bomb and deliver it by strapping it to a cat.

    3. Toni the terrible

      Re: All your data are belong to us

      Would be nice. Only the TLAs etc can blackmail the MPs to keep quiet

  12. EricM

    This is a textbook example on why to avoid "slippery slope" regulations at all cost

    Once the UK agreed to create mass snooping capabilities for use against terrorists, these capabilites created demand in all other departments of government.

    You _can_ better assess, direct and punish a population in a number of ways without any privacy laws in the way plus full suveillance. Most citizens of former Eastern Germany know that well from experience...

    After all, only a citizen, that is observerd 24/7 is a) a secure citizen and b) a citizen _constantly_confirmed_ to be abiding the law.

    While China was doing it openly to supress, in the UK it happened under the disguise (and maybe even intent) to fight terrorism. However, the result, as you will experience, is mostly identical.

    Hopefully your example will at least spare some other countries the same fate as they have the opportunuty to learn by example.

    I wish you good luck since reversing this situation and prying surveillance powers back from government agencies all over the place will be much more difficult than preventing it happening in the first place...

  13. Mr Dogshit
    Big Brother

    Suspicion builds Confidence

    I am reminded of a film called Brazil.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet

    We still keep voting for the same idiot political parties.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      Not me, I always go for the leader chosen by the lady of the lake wielding Excalibur

      Moistened tarts are a way better system than this lot

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        Moistened tarts are a way better system than this lot

        No they're not.We'd just end up with kings again.

        Anarcho synclist commune: (can't be arsed to check correct spelling) - every person takes turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week. And all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a bi-weekly meeting....

        1. Citizen of Nowhere
          Coat

          Re: And yet

          Anarcho-syndicalist? Or possibly anarcho-cynicalist (much like the former, but way, way tetchier). Anarcho-cyclists are beyond the pale,

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      It's true that UK voters keep on voting for the same unacceptable political parties; but getting out of that trap is not so simple. Indeed, a lot of care and effort has gone into making sure we can't get out of it.

      First of all - as in the USA and other countries - you can only vote for someone who is an official candidate. (Why?)

      People get to be official candidates by ingratiating themselves with the relevant party, which is run by a bunch of hard-nosed, cynical, immoral psychopaths. That usually ensures that only such people (or those who show strong psychopath potential) are even allowed to stand for election.

      There are other serious obstacles. First, it takes a lot of money to make the slightest impact on our "democratic" systems. Note that in the USA, even a billionaire like Ross Perot was brushed aside like a mosquito when he stood for President. His means and influence dwarf those that most of us could command - yet the main parties simply buried him.

      Second, governing a modern nation is extremely complex and demanding. Even granted that 99% of the actual skilled and expert work is done by skilled experts (and the civil service), it takes a lot of know-how and networking skills even to work the levers at all. ("Yes, Minister!" gave a slightly biased but generally accurate view of how little control even ministers have over how the country is run).

      1. Paul Smith

        Re: And yet

        Valid points but poor examples. Neither the USA not the UK are effective democracies.

        1. genghis_uk Bronze badge

          Re: And yet

          Is there such a thing?

          Switzerland maybe? but that only works because there are not that many people and they appear to be happy to have a referendum,every quarter.

          It is largely down to scale. The reaction to the last UK general election was 'oh, no not another one' so getting genuine democracy where the people have more of a say would not work in the UK. If we gave people a vote on everything they would stop voting. If we remove the party system and had a parliament of 650 independents, nothing would get done (Brexit was a prime example of 650 different opinions).

          The problem has always been that the type of people that go into politics are, generally, the last people you would want in politics. A lot of people may care when they start but soon get eaten by the machine and anyone studying PPE ought to be banned from politics for being entirely the wrong sort of person.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: And yet

            If we remove the party system and had a parliament of 650 independents, nothing would get done

            That might be preferable to current. When the government can 'get things done' it's usually the wrong thing, or the in the wrong way, and usually both.

            With modern communications it should be fairly trivial to setup a mechanism to provide ever citizen with a convenient method of direct application of their will without the inconvenience of having to wander over to a ballot station and putting up with politicians kissing babies.

            1. Mike 137 Silver badge

              Re: And yet

              "should be fairly trivial to setup a mechanism to provide ever citizen with a convenient method of direct application of their will"

              This might be implemented as government by referendum. Alternatively, as outlined by G. K. Chesterton in 1908 (if I remember rightly) the people might be tasked with defining the policies rather than just being allowed to vote on them. However, nice though both these alternatives seem, making them work for the general case would be very hard indeed.

              Quite apart from the difficulty of ensuring everyone is sufficiently informed about often very complicated or confidential matters, arriving at consensus is likely to become impossible. See Albert Weale "The Will of the People" Policy Press 2018.

              Weale points out that only if an issue is purely binary (a single problem to solve with a yes or no answer) is it possible to have an ensured majority position. As soon as there are more factors involved, the possible alternative positions multiply exponentially, so no overall majority is possible. For example, if you have three parties, there are distributions of votes that result in no individual party having an overall majority, and in such a case there are three possible ways a majority can be obtained by two parties collaborating.

              Weale's book was written in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the majority for which was in fact only enabled by artificially reducing the question to a single yes/no vote (disguising the number of separate factors involved). And we're still finding out that there are aspects of Brexit that nobody including the politicians had thought about.

          2. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Switzerland

            I think it has more to do with structure than with size. Switzerland consists of 26 cantons in confederation, and even municipalities raise income tax. They have practical power, where we lived they ran some services with the neighbouring municipality.

            In England power is in Westminster

          3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: And yet

            @genghis"The reaction to the last UK general election was 'oh, no not another one'..."

            There is a real possibility that this was because there is no real point in voting - the wrong lizard gets in every time. If there was more actual involvement, where people could see that their opinions were considered and decisions made on that basis (with reasons given for accepting/discarding them) then the positive feedback would be significant, and people would realise that politics is about people, not parties. Perhaps it could start with local issues - see, for example, the system in [some?] US states where citizens have the right and ability to put proposals to a ballot regarding e.g. banning the use of speed cameras in their town.

            1. Toni the terrible

              Re: And yet

              I have never had an person that I voted for get elected. Most times not even the party I ended up voting for. I continue to vote but have no idea why anymore

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: And yet

          If you look carefully you will find I did not say they were. I mentioned the UK and USA as I get the impression that most readers of The Reg are from those nations.

          And I put "democracy" in quotation marks, to indicate that I did not endorse that description.

          Actually, I don't think democracy is viable or even possible model for a large modern nation. But it's moot, as very few of them have even tried it.

        3. Toni the terrible

          Re: And yet

          Elective dictatorships and oligarchys

      2. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: And yet

        "First of all - as in the USA and other countries - you can only vote for someone who is an official candidate. (Why?)"

        Last time I checked anyone can stand to be a Parliamentary candidate in the UK subject to appropriate oversight (citizenship etc.) and payment of £500 https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/elections/standing/

        Many Ballot forms have independent candidates on them. - I myself (residing in a 'Red Rosette' constituency) have voted for the Monster Raving Loony party as a show of protest!

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      "We still keep voting for the same idiot political parties."

      We need more and better idiot political parties to vote for.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        We need more and better idiot political parties to vote for.

        We have more than just the blues and the reds, but as noone votes for the minor parties in any great number, we just keep going round and round in circles with the same failed ideas every four years.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        Yes. Because it works so well in Italy :-)

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: And yet

          I don't think it works any worse in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden

      3. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        Actually, I believe that we should abolish all political parties - make them illegal, with heavy penalties for forming one.

        Then voters could choose competent individuals and assess their performance as individuals. And governments would tackle problems objectively, rather than asking first what answer their policis and platforms dictate.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: And yet

          Yep - I've been saying it for years. The problem seems to be that the idea of parties is so ingrained that even groups like Unlock Democracy don't consider it as a possibility. Of course, the practical problem is how do you get politicians, all members of political parties, to pass a law banning political parties?

        2. 96percentchimp

          Re: And yet

          IMO this is a hopelessly naive idea.

          Ireland has a high proportion of independents, who are famously corrupt and dedicate their efforts to fineagling as much as they can for their local fiefdoms so they get re-elected. On the big issues, they're absolutely hopeless because they don't care. It's no better than parties who offer a manifesto, and in some cases significantly worse.

    4. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      At a lower, but still electable level:

      One Mayor of a northern working class town Middlesboro, whose town is assessed as having the greatest propensity for locals to catch Covid-19, in his infinite wisdom and powers, totally shuts off all lawful access to great big wide open spaces (oft known as parks). Wow, that'll help.

      Liverpool's Mayor is now reportedly castigating the Government for allowing the Liverpool v Athletico Madrid footie match to go ahead, allegedly being the cause of a lot of cases and deaths. Yeah great hindsight.

      But what did he do to stop it occurring?

      Beware the individual politician with all that power. Misused or neglected. And yes, the locals voted them in.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet

      Have you seen the alternatives? Local candidates with one or two interests that matter to some of the other people in their local area, and no clue at all about national issues or national infrastructure. Celebrities who want an additional 15 minutes of fame for one of their characters (I'm mainly thinking Al Murray's Pub Landlord here). True Believers who don't understand how the real world really works and are willing to see the human race sent straight back to the stone age because someone told them we will all drown by 1990 if we continue to use fossil fuels. And other, even more stupid, "candidates" who want to go into politics because it saves them having to get a real job (unfortunately many of these do go into the mainstream parties and get elected, but there are still a large number who fail even at this).

  15. osakajin Bronze badge

    Going foreward

    "On the back of [terrorism] VIRUS fears"

  16. genghis_uk Bronze badge

    They abuse RIPA and now want Contact Tracing?

    Only <checks> 6 days ago I said that a central database for contact checking would be abused because it would gradually become available to govenment agencies beyond the original scope... My example at the time was the misuse of the original RIPA by local councils. Since RIPA was extended in 2016 it is even more intrusive and now they want to extend access to another 5 departments.

    Do we really want to trust this lot with a database that could give them details of everyone you come into contact with, walk past, happen to be in the same pub, restaurant, party etc? (assuming any open up again). The ability to abuse data like this to bring about guilt by association is immense.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: They abuse RIPA and now want Contact Tracing?

      It does reduce crime

      Paying a police officer for this data would be illegal. Obtaining it yourself because you work for the council dog walking office is perfectly fine

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: They abuse RIPA and now want Contact Tracing?

      Give them an inch and they'll take an ell. (Or a mile if you want to be modern).

      It's the nature of the beast.

      That's why it should be the duty (or even the self-interest) of every citizens to resist as energetically as possible all official demands, encroachments and abuses of power.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They abuse RIPA and now want Contact Tracing?

        The ell isn't standard between England and Scotland and is MUCH less than a mile :-)

        Leagues or furlongs.

  17. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Why all the fuss?

    Since the time of Elizabeth I, England (later to be embraced by the UK) has possessed apparatus of surveillance. Modern technology merely extends ease and scope. Regardless of whether there is a body of law giving oversight of surveillance, only the naive would imagine anything will impede overzealous and rogue elements of the state from snooping in any manner they desire. These, sometimes sensibly, will believe pragmatism overrides principle.

    Similarly, the general population ought adopt a robust view of surveillance being inevitable. Individuals and organisations must use their own initiative to ensure communications remain private. When feasible, technologies permitting blanket protection should be adopted; this on the basis that a handful rather than generality of secure communications draws attention. Content of communications is more easy to obscure than meta-data concerning transmission; nevertheless, some steps are available for making it difficult for meta-data to be attributable to specific users of communication channels.

    At the present time neither complete surveillance nor complete protection against it is practicable.

    Footnote

    Privacy and 'democracy' are distinctly different concepts. The latter pertains solely to a (deeply flawed) means of aggregate decision taking.

  18. Tubz

    No judge, sitting or retired will deny UKGov, especially if they want their knighthood , seat in the lords and the pay/expenses that goes with it !

  19. codejunky Silver badge

    Shock

    And yet some people want more government control over things and people. But anyone with the capacity to think should recognise this kind of state creap is not good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shock

      >>And yet some people want more government control over things

      Exactly. This is what people want and they've continued to vote for. And with string-'em-up Patel in charge expect more. Respect her AUTHORITY!! (And the will o' t' people.)

  20. The Dogs Meevonks

    VPN Always Essential - Now Compulsory

    I've been using a VPN for around 8yrs now... used occasionally prior to that... But it's been permanently on for those last 8. and for the last couple since my provider added it... Kill switch enabled too.

    I keep advising people to do the same... very few do... but these are the same people who dismiss my advice about privacy and security too.

    Now a VPN should be compulsory for everyone... not just something 'people who pirate' use... EVERYONE should have one.

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: VPN Always Essential - Now Compulsory

      Not just a VPN - what we need is a little browser plugin to provide innocuous internet traffic (randomly browse BBC and other "sanctioned" sites, official twitter feeds etc). Something to provide continuous plausible deniability....

      1. UrethralAnts

        Re: VPN Always Essential - Now Compulsory

        Just a raspberry pi that happy wanders around a list of sites all day. Hell, you could probably just do it with a python script and curl...

        1. The Dogs Meevonks

          Re: VPN Always Essential - Now Compulsory

          That's a very interesting idea... I'd actually be interested in plugging something like that into my home network... Especially whilst I'm away.

          Let them figure that one out. :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Democracy has lost its meaning

    and people are just fine with that.

  22. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Complaining doesn't fix it

    I have always assumed that everything I do is monitored, it has some effect on what I do but it doesn't stop me doing things that I believe in. The government is monitoring a lot of the population but Google and Facebook are monitoring everyone. So maybe you can stop the government tracking you but if we do that, all the government has to do is purchase the data from Google and Facebook.

    I agree that collecting and tracking all this personal data is wrong and needs to stop; but there's little point in bashing the government when the reality is that it changes virtually nothing.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Do we have a competitor for AmanfromMars1?

  24. T. F. M. Reader

    Pensions Regulator ...

    ... sounds much less ironic in the context than National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping.

    Or is it just me?

  25. Someone Else Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "serious and organised waste crime"

    From the perspective of a Yank, you Brits have such a way with words....

    Icon, because one would be hard pressed to find someone on this side of the pond to put those words together in that order. (Although, I will say it was a difficult choice between this one, the beer icon, the "I'll get my coat" icon, the noseblow-on-the keyboard icon, the WTF icon or the Stop icon. I hope I chose wisely....)

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: "serious and organised waste crime"

      I don't see anything wrong with the phrase, other than the lack of a hyphen between "waste" and "crime"? The poor hyphen is becoming an endangered species.

  26. Stork Silver badge

    How come I am reminded of Yes, minister?

    See title

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: How come I am reminded of Yes, minister?

      Same reason we are reminded of Idiocracy over here

  27. Ubermik

    Low hanging fruit

    I think you can pretty much guarantee that rather than targeting corporate fraudsters terorrists and the like (who the politicians probably rub shoulders with anyway) they will use the powers to target ordinary people for trivial things just to make it look like they are doing SOMETHING and so they can ask for more money to carry on doing a mediocre at best job

    If youre rich enough this wont affect you, but if youre not rich you should be VERY worried about it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Low hanging fruit

      The police have been targeting low hanging fruit for years. The lowest fruit is found targeting anyone who tries to express their opinions which to do not completely agree with today's politically correct ideas - whether on internet or otherwise.

      Why should it be such a heinous offence not to like someone or something in certain special protected classifications but not others?

      How many times have we seen the police target a victim of crime because the criminal shouts loudest?

      Coronavirus is the biggest example. How easy is it for police to re-interpret guidance on staying at home in certain areas and fine people trying to drive to local countryide for exercise. Far better to swan around in their cars doing this than going after the criminals who will be abusing the billions of pounds of our money being handed out to businesses and entrepreneurs.

  28. Ali 4

    Google, Microsoft & Facebook etc is ok but the Govmt isn't?

    Windows 10 has a keylogger etc built in as standard, Google knows where everyone is and who they are with and what their emails contain, Facebook, well goodness only knows what data they slurp from mobile phones, including all phone contacts. Same with a lot of other online companies. Most people don't realise this, or don't care or don't know enough to stop the data gathering. Yet when the Government wants a little bit of info for national security reasons, everyone is up in arms about it?

    No, I don't support the government doing this but then unlike most people I'll never have any social media apps etc on MY phone (which has a custom ROM). And I'll never infect MY computer with Windows 10 either !

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: Google, Microsoft & Facebook etc is ok but the Govmt isn't?

      I would imagine that most people on these forums are more knowledgeable than your average citizen. There are ways to reduce the slurping of personal data, and render it next to worthless.

      Programs like OOSU10 can limit what windows 10 can do, stop using google and switch to duckduckgo on both desktop/laptop and mobile... Stop using Chrome and switch to Firefox... make use of your hosts file.

      Don't allow facebook anywhere near your phone.. in fact.. if you have one... delete your entire account.

      And most importantly... use a VPN, and use plugins to block ads, scripts, cookies and trackers.. and make use of firefox's 'containers' to sandbox sites so they can't track what you are doing elsewhere.

      Whilst these won't stop 100% of it... they'll reduce it to the point that whatever they do manage to collect is next to worthless.

  29. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    FAIL

    Comedy time in a little while

    In a year or so, the Starlink satellite broadband will be live, and based out of a non-UK country. I'll be watching with interest the negotiations between our government and Elon Musk regarding monitoring back-doors.

  30. Ju551e

    3 letters, VPN ;-)

  31. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    In case anyone was confused as to what this is about, Classic Dom and a mate are on Sage, the science committee that gives advice to the British government, so the government is advising itself (or rather, Classic Dom is pulling strings all over government now), always, as they constantly remind us, "guided by the science".

    The mate was a data scientist who worked with him at Vote Leave, and is the brother of a data mining company boss with links to Palantir.

    But please do allow your data to get slurped by your ISP and also install that NHS app, it's apparently what people need to do to beat the virus.

    Revealed: Cummings is on secret scientific advisory group for Covid-19

  32. shamus21

    What you have consider is that if you have anything to hide there are many options that allow you to do just that, so gov`s and thier agency's will find it very hard if not impossible to watch what you are doing.

    This sort of government activity across the world in general not just in the UK is more about Big Data analysis and controling the masses but that said you also have the problem of abuse of that freely avaible data with in agenys and that needs to be controled and monitored.

  33. Toni the terrible
    Devil

    This Forum

    Well, you all know that everyone on this site is already targeted by the 'authorities' as you tend to express opinions that they think are borderline terrorist.

    Being Anon does nothing to stop them.

    Not being on a social site means they look at your other data more closely, I mean its a dead giveaway that you are suspicious people. In the TLAs you have curated social media content put there for you, so you dont stand out.

    It's only those who have given up and are waiting to die that are considered safe; oh no that is a profile of suicide bombers - so ....

  34. fraunthall

    The Rise of Fascism in the Former Democracies

    The UK and China could amalgamate and form one unified Super-State. Both now have the necessary fascistic and totalitarian powers of surveillance against their citizens and lack of civil liberties and civil rights that accompany that process, all of which might have made Adolph Hitler smile.

    Once the giant communications corporations and the government train the citizen-sheep of any former democracy to give up their privacy rights and accept the State as their nanny, keeper and jailer, there is nothing to stop the full development of fascism in what may once have been a real democracy.

    It is happening everywhere. It is now China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Singapore, Mayanmar, Belarus, Nicaragua, and most Muslim countries, that are the world's worst examples of fascist States. There are others, but none of those in this list were ever democracies.

    The disintegration of democracy and of the democratic civil rights and civil liberties that support democracy, and the accompanying rise of the totalitarian power of large corporate interests like Google, Facebook, etc., is what exemplifies fascism. It is happening everywhere among the former democracies - examples of this ongoing process include the U.K., the U.S., Canada under the retrograde progressives of Herr Trudeau, even New Zealand and Australia.

  35. UncleZoot

    Poop, eat well or else

    So much for privacy. I can't believe that the Subjects of the UK put up with this shyte? You allow numpties to comb through every step in your lives, yet there is no consequences for government failure to protect.

    Hey numpties, comb my poo looking for clues to what I ate last night.

  36. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

    Just to get some sense of perspective, if I take the following links as gospel, the environment agency wants access for the following staff:

    “Environment Agency: Area Management Team Member or equivalent (Grade 7) or Senior Enforcement Technical Advisor or equivalent (Grade 6)"

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111195499/regulation/2

    OK. That must be a limited number of SENIOR employees, at directly level, right? There are a surprising number of employees at this level, perhaps 1500+.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/257186/response/638151/attach/3/20150331%20NRMAR16%20final.pdf

    What could possibly go wrong, giving 1500 employees at a left-wing quango, access to internet records of individual citizens?

  37. pgm

    1984

    No wonder why it was written by a Brit.

    Isn't the UK the most surveilled country in the western hemisphere?

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