Tag: theresa may

Social media execs face jail

GoogleThe future Investigatory Powers Bill will make it an offence for companies like Twitter to tell people if security forces are monitoring them.

The draconian bill, currently shuffling its way through the UK parliament, has a clause that means executives at Twitter and other social media companies could be banged up in jail for two years for tipping off people about spook activity.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Twitter routinely notifies people that the spooks are looking at their stuff, and that’s company policy.

The Telegraph quotes an industry association body as saying that the clause could mean a slowdown in cooperation between countries to share information.

US companies including Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Facebook are against spooks being given too much access to an individual’s data.

But the UK has routinely been collecting data from people here without having any legal authority to do so.

Apple takes swipe at UK plans

Old Apple logo - Wikimedia CommonsA bill proposed by the UK government has come under attack from Apple which believes will compromise peoples’ personal security.

Theresa May, at the Home Office, has proposed that additional online powers were required including a plan to track which websites people have visited.

But Apple said the Investigatory Powers Bill is an attack on individuals’ freedoms.

Apple said in a submission to a parliamentary committee that it considers that the plans will weaken security for the majority of law abiding people.

Microsoft has also weighted into the debate amidst fears that non UK firms will be made to compromise existing US laws.

Apple argues against so-called “back doors” that could be used by crooks and terrorists as well as government departments.

UK introduces new surveillance bill

teresa may evilA bill introduced by home secretary Theresa May has introduced a complicated bill which will force service providers to store the internet activity of everyone in the country.

The draft bill, called the Investigatory Powers Bill will allow police to obtain warrants to examine the activity of people it or the other British security authorities.

But the warrants will have to be endorsed by specially trained judges.

The bill will also allow the authorities to hack peoples’ devices and to search vast amounts of data flowing through the internet.

GCHQ had already been doing this secretly, until whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed its activity.

Previous acts of Parliament had allowed councils to access data but they won’t be able to monitor internet data that service providers store.

Theresa May is an internet villain

teresa may evilThe Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) in the UK has awarded home secretary Theresa May with “Web’s No. 1 Villain” title.

ISPA represents Microsoft, Google, AOL and the internet-service providers in Britain and has named and shamed May for her support to the “Snooper’s Charter,” not consulting the civil society and industry on this issue, and generally being a Tory.

Tech and telecom companies in Britain are worried with May’s plans to hack into British laws to allow security agencies to track terrorist and criminals. Dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter” the law has been revised a number of times. Earlier versions of this bill had provisions of asking tech companies and carriers to store more user data, including users’ browsing history as well as their social media usage data.

The association thinks May is “forging ahead with communications data legislation that would significantly increase capabilities without adequate consultation with industry and civil society”.

According to Andrew Kernahan, ISPA’s public affairs manager, the Home Office doesn’t seem to be interested in that debate and has “proceeded in a pretty backroom way”.

May has argued that a Snooper’s Charter is “necessary” for safety and security of the people.

“It is not possible to debate the balance between privacy and security, including the rights and wrongs of intrusive powers, without also understanding the threats.” May said last month.

MPs David Davis and Tom Watson were adjudged the joint winner of internet “hero” award for this year. They were considered “hero” for their legal actions against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.

UK government claims it is right to hassle the press

The UK’s government claims it is doing the right thing hassling the press by holding their family hostage.

In a statement, the British government defended its moves to use anti-terrorism powers to lock up David Miranda at a London airport. Miranda is the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is threatening to provide scoops from the cache of Edward Snowden.

Home Secretary Theresa May said Miranda was held to prevent stolen data aiding terrorists.

Talking to Reuters, May claimed that it was “absolutely right” that if the police believe somebody is in possession of highly sensitive, stolen information that could help terrorists, that could risk lives, lead to a potential loss of life, the police are able to act – and that’s what the law lets them do.

In a statement of the utterly obvious, she admitted that an independent reviewer was looking into the police conduct but said that she knew all about the decision to lock up Miranda.

The United States said Britain gave it a “heads up” but it did not ask for Miranda to be questioned.

The other weak point about May’s comments is that if Miranda was arrested because the police were worried about terrorism, they forgot to actually ask him any questions about it.

Miranda said the officers who questioned him didn’t ask him one question that could be linked to terrorism.

Yesterday it was reported that the UK government had entered the Guardian’s offices and destroyed hard drives containing Snowden material. 

The British action even surprised the White House, with spokesman John Earnest hinting that it was a little extreme.

He could not see US authorities invading a newspaper and destroying hard drives to protect national security, like the British had done.

“That’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate,” Earnest told reporters.

So May should know that she is on hiding to nowhere when her actions are being dubbed by right wing nutjobs in the US as a tad extreme. 

Snooper's Charter blasted by MPs, Nick Clegg

Plans to introduce a “Snooper’s Charter” have received a wave of criticism, with MPs, public bodies and even the deputy Prime Minister attacking the Draft Communications Data Bill. 

A Joint Select Committee rejected initial plans to allow law enforcement agencies to access currently obtainable data such as in email communications, with proposed powers to monitor online data scaled back.

The scope of plans to monitor data should be significantly decreased, committee chair Lord Blencathra said, with major changes required to the Bill.

“There needs to be some substantial re-writing of the Bill before it is brought before Parliament as we feel that there is a case for legislation, but only if it strikes a better balance between the needs of law enforcement and other agencies and the right to privacy,”  Blencathra said.

The Lord added that there is “a fine but crucial line” between giving law enforcement and security agencies access to the information necessary for national security, and allowing UK citizens to go about their daily business “without a fear, however unjustified, that the state is monitoring their every move”.

Home Secretary Theresa May previously put forward plans which she claimed would protect against terrorism, for example, handing police and other agencies improved powers to monitor electronic communications.  However, the committee argued that May should not be given “carte blanche” to order the retention of all types of data.   The committee also rejected claims that it is necessary to put in stricter measures to ensure that plans are ‘future proofed’.

According to the committee recommendations, the types of data that are accessible should be reduced, with MPs able to vote on whether service providers should have to collect IP address data from subscribers for example.  The number of public bodies able to access the data should lowered, the committee recommended.

In addition, MPs said that there should be more consultation with privacy groups to avoid the gung-ho approach that has drawn widespread criticism from external bodies.

However, the committee indicated that it would be happy to pass proposals if they are changed to meet the recommendations.

The plans also received criticism from deputy PM Nick Clegg, who said that plans to increase powers to monitor online communications need to go “back to the drawing board”.

“It is for those reasons that I believe the coalition Government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation,” Clegg said.  “We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board.”

The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham also took aim at the recommendations, highlighting the problems it would cause in regulating the strict rules initially proposed by the government.   Withholding more data, and for longer periods of time would also be a drain on public finances, Graham said.

“My concern is around the adequacy of the proposed safeguards that the ICO would be responsible for regulating,” Graham said. 

“Ensuring the security of retained personal information and its destruction after 12 months would require increased powers and resources, and as it stands today we’ve not been given clear advice on where that will come from,” he said.

The Home Secretary defended the bill in a newspaper column today, stating that she is “determined” to see through the web monitoring plans.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, told TechEye:

“The committee has exposed weak evidence, misleading statements and fanciful figures and unanimously rejected this draft Bill’s proposal to monitor everyone’s emails, web visits and social media messages.

“The complexity and sensitivity of the subject required a radically different process and a totally different bill. There are challenges, but they can be solved in a proportionate way that protects privacy, is based on what is technically possible and focuses on maximising the effectiveness of data already held.

“After such a damming report, Parliament cannot support the draft Bill and it is now essential that if proposals are brought forward, they are comprehensively re-written and based upon the clear evidence and proper consultation that this draft Bill fundamentally lacked.” 

McKinnon extradition blocked

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that attempts to extradite Gary McKinnon to the US have been blocked.

Speaking at the House of Commons, May said that McKinnon would no longer face extradition to America after he hacked into US military computer systems in 2001.

“After careful consideration of all of the relevant material I have concluded that Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give to rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights,” May said. 

” I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon.”

May continued: “Since I came into office the sole issue on which I have been required to make a decision is whether Mr McKinnon’s extradition to the United States would breach his human rights,” said May, who described McKinnon’s case as exceptional.

May told MPs that he is accused of “serious crimes” but is also “seriously ill” with Asperger’s Syndrome.

McKinnon has faced ten years waiting to learn of his fate.  It is said that he would face up to 60 years imprisonment.

McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp said told reporters that she was “overwhelmed” at the decision, and thanked the Home Secretary for standing up to America.

Sharp has led a campaign to halt the extradition of her son over the past years, appealing directly to the Prime Minister to intervene.  

MPs also joined in the debate, with controversy over what has been perceived as a one sided extradition treaty between the UK and the US.

McKinnon to hear extradition verdict

Gary McKinnon is set to receive a verdict from the Home Office on his extradition to America on Tuesday afternoon, after a decade long wait.

McKinnon’s lawyer Karen Todner confirmed on Sunday via Twitter that a decision would finally be made over extraditing McKinnon to face charges for hacking into US government networks.

The mother of London resident McKinnon, Janis Sharp, has been fighting attempts to extradite her son for ten years since he was accused of breaking into military and NASA computers.

Sharp has repeatedly claimed that Asperger’s sufferer McKinnon would be at severe risk of suicide if he was subject to prison across the Atlantic.   It is thought that he could face a sentence of up to 60 years.  Sharp contends that McKinnon should indeed stand trial for his actions, but should face a judgement in the UK.

Sharp’s campaign has drawn the backing of prominent MPs in the UK, and has led to an appeal to the Prime Minister to resolve the problem directly with his US counterpart Barack Obama, she previously told TechEye.

McKinnon’s case has been at the forefront of discussion by MPs surrounding the existing extradition treaties between the UK and the US.  Many believe existing rules are one sided in favour of the US, with US residents considered highly unlikely to be extradited to the UK.

Successive Home Secretaries have had to deal with the thorny problem of McKinnon’s extradition. US authorities have been adamant he should stand trial and face imprisonment on American soil, and it now falls on Conservative Theresa May to make a final judgement over whether to acquiesce to those demands.

The Home Secretary has been under the spotlight for a number of extradition rulings in the past weeks. High profile case such as that of radical cleric Abu Hamza resulted in extradition, though another contentious case, that of Abu Qatada, recently ended with the Qatada being allowed to stay in the country.

May is also to announce verdict on demands from the US Justice Department to extradite UK citizen Richard O’Dwyer for piracy offences.

A verdict on McKinnon’s case is expected to be made at noon tomorrow.

Theresa May hands British sovereignty to Big Content

British Home Secretary  Theresa May is sacrificing the life of a young British citizen who committed no crime other than hacking off Big Content.

To be fair to May she would send anyone overseas to face a kangaroo court if the government asked her, but the case of Sheffield Hallam student Richard O’Dwyer is particularly unpleasant.

Under pressure from Hollywood, the US has started criminalising cases of piracy and using its legal system as a private police force for the studios. This unfortunately also means enforcing Big Content’s view about what is a “crime”.

A sensible home secretary would look at the charges that a British Citizen faces and question what he had done.

What O’Dwyer did was, when he was 19, open a website called tvshack.net which linked to places to watch TV and films online. In the UK this was not a crime – the movie studios complained and the CPS said it was not worth pursuing. So Big Content leaned on its tamed US cops to get an extradition on the kid so he could face the full wrath of US law.

In the US he could go to jail for a decade for doing something which is legal in the UK.

Needless to say that created a bit of stink with people who feel that May is ruining a kid’s life just to keep the US government happy.

To make matters worse, a US citizen who carried out a crime in the UK would not be extradited back to face the music. The US is better at protecting its own citizens than May.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Theresa May has told the House of Commons that she will not revisit plans to extradite to the US on copyright charges, saying her mind was already made up.

This lady is not for turning and the usual rubbish.  

May hopes that this will push her tough Margaret Thatcher style image, but the reality is that she just appears like a heartless careerist who would sell her own grandmother if she thought she could look good on the cover of the Daily Mail.

O’Dwyer’s only hope now is a court appeal.

But May might be finding that she is facing a lot of public support for O’Dwyer. Wikipedia boss Jimmy Wales is arranging an army of celebrities to take her on.

He is quoted as saying May should be very clear that the case is not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time. 

Privacy groups claim Communications Bill breaches human rights

Theresa May’s justification of the Communications Bill has angered privacy groups, which have said the plans will tarnish everyone with the same “guilty” brush.

The Home Secretary is expected today to push ahead with a draft of the bill, which proposes to allow police and other intelligence services access to citizen’s social networking and internet activity as well as emails, online gaming and internet phone calls.

Outlining plans to store this information for a year, Ms May claimed that this was essential to help keep up and target criminals including terrorists and sex offenders.

However, privacy groups have said the Bill could breach human rights laws and tarnish everyone in the UK with the same “guilty” brush.

Jim Killock, Director at the Open Rights Group, told TechEye that more consideration was needed to ensure that the bill was in line with human rights.
“The question here is, are these proposals in balance with human rights considerations?” he said. “So not to trespass into a surveillance nation the law should only target those who are deemed to be guilty, not the blanket nation, which is what they are doing.” 
He added that as a result of this, the legislation could be challenged in a human rights court and pushed back. The human rights law are in place to protect the public, he said.

“What is at risk here is that the police will be able to identify whistleblowers, celebrities and also journalists and their sources,” KIllock warned.  “Given this will all be through police will, we could be moving into dangerous territory.”

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, shared the same concerns. Speaking with TechEye, Pickles said: “In a free society it is not for innocent people to justify why the government should not spy on them.

“This policy goes against the Coalition Agreement, against Conservative pre-election policy and is fundamentally an illiberal, intrusive scheme that will do little to improve national security and do everything to turn us into a nation of suspects.

“A pathetic compromise on council snooping is not going to fool the public, so the Home Office are resorting to the same scaremongering the last government used to justify ID Cards, 90 day detention without charge and countless other authoritarian policies.”

A spokesperson for Privacy International told TechEye: “In the UK we’ve historically operated under the presumption that the government has no business peering into the lives of citizens unless there is good reason to – that people are innocent until proven guilty.

“This legislation would reverse that presumption and fundamentally change the relationship between citizen and state.

“Yet there are still big question marks over whether Facebook and Google will be brought under RIPA, and how far the government is willing to go in undermining Internet security in order to fulfil its insatiable desire for data.”

Currently, police and security services can access details of internet visits and other communications data only if it is stored by phone companies and internet companies.

The new bill will, however, give automatic access to the police, security officials, the new National Crime Agency and HMRC, while other organisations, such as NHS trusts and the Environment Agency, will have to make a case before Parliament if they want to access this information.