It has been another busy week for Big Brother Watch, with stories ranging from compulsory black-box recorders being placed in new cars to repeated wrangling over the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) keeping us occupied. In the meantime we have also been building up to our first major piece of research and continue to seek out stories of injustice at the hands of our overbearing state. Please do remember to send us details if you or someone you know have been the victim of oppressive and unjustified big brother bullying…for instance like these good people.
The Grim Ripa
This week has seen debate rage over the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by local councils as first there were calls for it to be partially reformed; then the Home Secretary announced a few moderate changes; then a local council was taken to court for using Ripa to find out whether a family lived in a particular school’s catchment area.
Ripa, for those unaware, is a piece of legislation brought in by the government nine years ago to help monitor terrorism and organised crime on the internet and mobile phones. When Ripa was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, such as the police and security services, were allowed to use it; but as of 2008, that number had risen to 792, including 474 councils.
Big Brother Watch has kept a close eye on the use of Ripa by local authorities (the most frequent offenders of its misuse) since our creation and in the past we have highlighted cases of abuse by Wandsworth Council and its use in monitoring our shopping habits.
We have been tracking the news all week on the website and also appeared in the media voicing our opposition to the use of Ripa by unelected council bureaucrats. We will continue to call for more checks and balances until finally it is used as it was intended – to catch dangerous criminals, rather than create criminals out of law abiding citizens.
Big Brother Watch moves onto Facebook
For those of you on Facebook, the Big Brother Watch Group is now available here (you may need to log-in to your Facebook account before being able to see the group).
Please do click the link above and join our group – membership is obviously free and you will be automatically approved.
We are hoping the group will become a forum for discussion of the big topics of the day in individual liberty and personal privacy. It will also give you a chance to interact with both your fellow BBW supporters and the BBW staff, who will visit the group regularly to update followers on what is going on with Big Brother Watch.
Blogs of the Week
Ripa. Meant for terrorists. Used on gardeners. - As if by magic, in the week that Ripa is under more scrutiny than ever, a Croydon Council Tree Officer chooses to use the surveillance powers available to find out who trimmed a Scots Pine in his borough. An intelligent use of anti-terror legislation if ever there were one.
Letter from America – a state-wide poll to violate privacy and intimidate voters - Our third guest post on the website comes courtesy of Ewan Watt in Minnesota, who writes about a shameful attempt by a group in Washington State to ‘out’ signatories to a pro-gay rights petition.
GPS tracking devices on the high-street - For just £50 you too can play at being James Bond and track employees, family members or anyone who leaves their mobile phone in your vicinity long enough for you to install software on it…tremendous.
Thursday 5th November 2009
Daily Express – Curb on Big Brother ‘doesn’t go far enough’
Alex Deane, of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “Unaccountable council officials shouldn’t be able to intrude into our lives as they currently do. Abuse is rampant.”
Daily Telegraph – Child support investigators get new spying powers
…Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Saying that these new extensions to RIPA will only target benefits cheats and parents that fail to pay child support is all well and good; but given recent experience most people will be waiting for cases that show the powers are being used for other, more nefarious reasons.”
Wednesday 4th November 2009
Independent – Town halls set to lose surveillance powers
…Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Ripa abuse is rampant – from spying on dog walkers to people’s dustbins, to parents wanting their children to go to schools in a particular catchment area.
Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed on Logan’s Brunch show
Tuesday 3rd November 2009
City Talk 103.5FM – Alex Deane interviewed on the Legal Surgery show
Monday 2nd November 2009
Daily Telegraph - EU proposes black boxes for cars
Dylan Sharpe, campaign director for Big Brother Watch, said: “These boxes are yet another means of surveillance that will give anyone with the means to decode them the ability to find out exactly where you have been.
“It starts with the police and insurance companies and ends with vicious employers and jealous partners watching your journeys.”
Imagine a UK without the heavy-hand of EU surveillance…
We know that Europe-wide surveillance is going to be an increasingly important issue as Britain begins sharing databases with law enforcement authorities on the continent.
Indeed, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.
Dr Lee Rotherham has written a new book in which he imagines a Britain 10 years into the future having rejected the EU, and you can own one of the first 5,000 copies for free by going to this website: http://www.greateudebate.com/order/