THE Tories’ new mass surveillance laws got a setback this week when the European Court of Justice ruled that its snoopers’ charter, the Investigatory Powers Act, is illegal under European law.
When the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IP Act) became law last week, Tory home secretary, Amber Rudd, hailed it as a piece of ‘world-leading legislation’ that gave ‘unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection’.
The only ones who went along with this attack on an individual’s right to privacy from state snooping were the Labour Party and SNP who abstained rather than vote against.
Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group, commented on Rudd’s claim saying: ‘She is right, it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy.
‘The IP Act will have an impact that goes far beyond the UK’s shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.’
The Act makes legal for the first time the activities of the police and security services in hoovering up all the information on every person’s computer and telephone use. Internet and phone companies will now legally be required to store everyone’s web browsing histories for 12 months and make that information available to the police, security services and dozens of ‘official agencies’ on demand.
The capitalist state now has the unprecedented right to hack into computers and phones of every single person in the country at will.
Everyone from the police and MI5, right through to local authorities will have complete unfettered access to information on every website visited, every phone call made and a complete record of a person’s movements courtesy of mobile phone locations. All this information will be stored and available for analysis when the state decides to act.
The British capitalist state is certainly world-leading when it comes to the indiscriminate collection of data on every single citizen in what is nothing more than a mass violation of the right to privacy and a complete reversal of the principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. From now on we are all guilty of something in the eyes of the state.
This drive to enact a complete surveillance society has received a setback from this ruling but Theresa May, who when she was home secretary claimed this was the ‘most important’ legislation of her career, is determined that it will not put a stop to it.
She has already declared that the EU court ruling will be ignored pending an appeal.
The Tories will not let go of this Act. They tried their hardest to get it through when in a coalition government with the Lib/Dems and now they are determined to drive it on.
All this mass spying has nothing to do with the ‘war on terror’ but is aimed at the real ‘enemy within’, the working class and young people who are being revolutionised by the crisis of capitalism, a crisis which the capitalist class is determined will be paid for by driving workers into the ground.
In this crisis, the ruling class is dropping the facade of bourgeois democracy with its freedom of the individual – the only freedom capitalism will allow workers is the freedom to work for poverty level wages or starve.
What really terrifies the ruling class and the Tories is that the working class is much stronger than all the repressive apparatus of the state. All the surveillance in the world will not stop a working class organised in a general strike from bringing down this weak Tory government and advancing to a workers government and socialism. This is the only way to defeat the Tory plans for a police state.
The All Trades Unions Alliance is holding its special conference on February 11 (see page1) to defend the NHS, the greatest gain of the working class, that the Tories have now decided must go. The truth is that you cannot defend the basic democratic rights of the working class as a thing in itself.
To defend these rights you must defend the historic gains of the movement, such as the NHS, the Welfare State and the trade unions’ right to strike (now under full attack).
The only way that this can be done is by organising a general strike and then a socialist revolution to smash up the capitalist state and disband it, so that the expropriators are expropriated, and their banks and major industries nationalised and put under workers’ management. This is how to defend democratic rights!