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  #1  
Old 04-13-2012, 10:08 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
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UK PM hopes to censor internet in the name of safety

An EFF activist discusses
The UK government's war on internet freedom:
Quote:
Last summer in the wake of the London riots, British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the government should have the power to censor social media and "stop [alleged rioters] from communicating via these websites". But after Cameron's plan was widely compared to the tactics of former Egypt President Hosni Mubarak - not to mention the same social media services were instrumental in helping organise post-riot cleanup - the proposal never materialised.

Unfortunately, Cameron's declaration that the "free flow of information" can sometimes be a problem, then an aberration, seems to have turned into a pillar of the UK government's 2012 agenda. Despite declaring early on in his term that internet freedom should be respected "in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square", his government is now considering a series of laws that would dramatically restrict online privacy and freedom of speech.
...
Cameron said his proposal was meant "to keep our country safe from serious and organised crime and also from terrorist threats that… that we still face in this country". But as Privacy International explained: "In a terrorism investigation, the police will already have access to all the data they could want. This is about other investigations." The information gathered in this new programme would be available to local law enforcement for use in any investigation and would be available without any judicial oversight.
It is appalling to me how so often in the last few years individual freedoms have been threatened all in the name of "safety" (both in the US and in cases like this overseas). It is especially worrisome to me that the idea of censoring speech is tolerated by enough of the general public that any politician in a first world nation would feel comfortable proposing such a thing. Without free speech, all other rights are meaningless in my opinion.
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:25 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Between the omnipresent surveillance cameras and the draconian libel laws, I'm surprised someone still thinks that privacy and freedom of speech exist in the UK.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2012, 04:38 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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He has to say *something* about it. The riots were atrocious and continued way past a point when (at least technically) they could have been attenuated - I'm no big fan of this government, but what's he supposed to do?
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Old 04-14-2012, 05:09 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
He has to say *something* about it. The riots were atrocious and continued way past a point when (at least technically) they could have been attenuated - I'm no big fan of this government, but what's he supposed to do?
Deal with the actual problem, not the symptom. If I told my friends on Facebook to riot, there's no way it would have happened. There must be some very strong tension building for this sort of thing to explode like it did. If people want to riot for some reason, they will find a way to communicate.

I won't weigh in on the police's actions, but surely there are things that could be done there, too. Even if they didn't act improperly, you can go through the motions of training them in proper conduct.

But don't start taking more freedom away. Do you really think that is going to make people more content and less likely to riot?
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2012, 06:49 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Deal with the actual problem, not the symptom. If I told my friends on Facebook to riot, there's no way it would have happened. There must be some very strong tension building for this sort of thing to explode like it did. If people want to riot for some reason, they will find a way to communicate.
What happened was pretty much a scaled-up version of the kind of teenage/twentysomething vandalism and general criminal behaviour that has always been around, just in small, disorganised clumps - social networking provided the means for it to snowball into larger, more organised group events. The people involved in the rioting were largely doing it because they could and because their peers were doing it - it was mostly a social activity (just a very destructive one).
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  #6  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:20 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Between the omnipresent surveillance cameras and the draconian libel laws, I'm surprised someone still thinks that privacy and freedom of speech exist in the UK.
Omnipresent surveillance cameras? Please tell me more. Do you know what omnipresent means? You are right about the libel laws though, old laws that are really not fit.
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:28 PM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Greenback
Omnipresent surveillance cameras? Please tell me more. Do you know what omnipresent means? You are right about the libel laws though, old laws that are really not fit.
I think that was a bit of hyperbole on Alessan's part. I will say, as an American traveling to London...those guys have a hell of a lot of surveillance cameras if you know where to look (hell, lots right out in the open). I tend to notice them more, perhaps, than the average person since I have worked in security in my past and we used to do high end surveillance IP camera systems and NVRs/DVRs.

I would love to have gotten the contract to put that stuff in!

-XT
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:40 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by lavenderviolet View Post
Without free speech, all other rights are meaningless in my opinion.
I don't understand that phrase.

But the UK doesn't have an enshrined right to free speech (or to anything) to my knowledge. There's no written constitution or bill of rights.
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:15 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is online now
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
There's no written constitution or bill of rights.
They had a Bill of Rights before we did. And they have a written freedom of speech in the EU conventions, plus an older Common Law principal of Free Speech.

Anyways, while the internet is cool and all, I think people overstate its role in stuff like this. People managed to have riots back before the internet. That they use the internet to cordinate such things today is just because its the currently most prominent tool for communicating to groups of people, if it didn't exist people would just fall back to older methods.
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:30 PM
bucketybuck bucketybuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
What happened was pretty much a scaled-up version of the kind of teenage/twentysomething vandalism and general criminal behaviour that has always been around, just in small, disorganised clumps - social networking provided the means for it to snowball into larger, more organised group events. The people involved in the rioting were largely doing it because they could and because their peers were doing it - it was mostly a social activity (just a very destructive one).
Or Recreational Rioting as we used to call it in Belfast, where throngs of little scallys would take any opportunity to gather and throw petrol bombs at the police. For many young people in certain areas it was just something to do. Thankfully the increase in fuel prices mean petrol bombs are less viable as tools of destruction these days.
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:34 PM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lavenderviolet View Post
An EFF activist discusses
The UK government's war on internet freedom:


It is appalling to me how so often in the last few years individual freedoms have been threatened all in the name of "safety" (both in the US and in cases like this overseas). It is especially worrisome to me that the idea of censoring speech is tolerated by enough of the general public that any politician in a first world nation would feel comfortable proposing such a thing. Without free speech, all other rights are meaningless in my opinion.
I hate the tendency of politicians to impose rules in the name of "safety" but be careful with this article - the OP is conflating two different proposals. The first one, to block social networking sites, was made in the immediate aftermath of the riots last summer and was promptly stomped on by the press and MPs pointing out it made us no better than Egypt, China, or Iran. The recent fuss has been about a proposal to require service providers to keep records of who is accessing what and allow law enforcement agencies to access this information. The proposal - as far as its been published - does not allow them to access content without direct approval by the Home Secretary in the same way as they can access telephone calls at the moment. Again it is doubtful this will get through Parliament as it stands. Personally I strongly dislike the proposal - apart from anything else it should be an independent judge not a politician granting access - but it is not a proposal to "censoring speech ".

I am generally fed up with the government's attitude on this whole area as both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats (the two parties in the coalition) promised to roll back the infringements to civil liberties introduced by the profoundly authoritarian Labour government since 2001.
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  #12  
Old 04-14-2012, 03:12 PM
gamerunknown gamerunknown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio
Common Law principal of Free Speech.
Yes, but with no entrenched constitution nor any real judicial check on legislative power, there is no way for a citizen to enforce the legislature to adhere to these principles. Well, outside of the European Court, but there has been significant recoil from the Lisbon Treaty which would provide a relevant check on legislative power.
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2012, 03:23 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
Anyways, while the internet is cool and all, I think people overstate its role in stuff like this. People managed to have riots back before the internet. That they use the internet to cordinate such things today is just because its the currently most prominent tool for communicating to groups of people, if it didn't exist people would just fall back to older methods.
They did, although in most cases, it was a localised phenomenon - this latest lot had people commuting to the riots in order to take part - social media didn't make it happen - but social media provided the means to let it grow big, fast.

Last edited by Mangetout; 04-14-2012 at 03:23 PM..
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