RIPA and the Further Erosion of Free Speech and Democracy

The Coalition’s ‘Secret Courts’

Mike, Tom Pride, the Angry Yorkshireman, Johnny Void and other left-wing bloggers too numerous to name have all raised the serious concerns presented by the Coalition’s legislation expanding Britain’s surveillance state. These have included secret courts, a Kafkaesque travesty of justice waiting to happen, where the defendant may not even know the charges against them if this is deemed a threat to ‘national security’.

Internet Censorship

Under the pretext of trying to protect vulnerable children from online pornography and paedophiles, the Coalition has also tried to introduce censorship onto the internet with measures so loose and ill-worded that it threatened to stifle mature political discussion and contemporary pagan religion and alternative spirituality and occultism. Tom Pride suffered censorship at the hands of the Net because his blog had ‘adult content’. It has, but not quite in the way the term’s used by censors and the media, where it’s become a euphemism for nudity and sex. Pride’s ‘adult content’ is more in the way of dealing with adult issues using satire and scorn.

This has been waaaay too much for the forces of the Right. More recently he’s had Daily Mail journalists harassing his friends and trying to out him as a Conservative Brit living in Poland. This shows, if nothing else, how desperate they are to smear him.

Police Harassment of Greens and Film-Makers for UKIP and the Frackers

And then there was the case of the local Green activist, who had his collar felt by the rozzers on the behest of the local branch of UKIP. And last week NetPol, the campaign against police surveillance, reported the case of a documentary film-maker, who was interviewed by the police because she had been filming an anti-fracking demonstration, and was therefore considered a dangerous terrorist.

Derby Council’s Surveillance of Workers Talking to Journos

This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye (28th November – 11th December 2014) carries another sobering story about the way RIPA, the new legislation introduced by the government to allow the authorities to snoop on ‘terrorists, fly-tippers’ and people, who don’t clean up the mess when their dogs foul the pavement, has been used in Derby to spy on a local journalist doing her job. According to a speech to the House of Lords by Lord Black of Brentwood, the disgraced former head of the Telegraph group, Derby city council tried to use the new powers to spy on a group of serving and former council employees, who met Kirsty Green, a reporter from the Derby Evening Telegraph, in Starbucks. A senior council employee apparently stumbled on the meeting when he went in there. He reported it to the council, and then invoked the act to have two ‘investigators’ come to engage in ‘direct surveillance’ as part of ‘an internal personnel investigation’. The spies were, however, recognised by the group when they entered the shop, and Green and the employees left.

The Eye’s piece concludes that this episode is ‘more Clouseau than Ceaucescu, perhaps, but sinister nonetheless.

Local Councils and the Campaign against Free Speech

In fact, this has been only one of a number of case where local authorities have wasted time and tax-payers money clamping down on local dissidents, like some jumped-up petty Gestapo. The more infamous cases include how one northern city spent hundreds of pounds of council tax trying to find out who the ‘Mr Monkey’ was posting critical pieces on the internet so they could sue him and close him down. Private citizens and shopkeepers have been threatened when they put up posters criticising the local authorities on the windows of their own homes or businesses. Ten years or so ago, one of the councils in Kent got very stroppy with one individual who dared to put up posters denouncing a technology deal between the council and Richard Branson.

Hitler is Alive and Well and Living in Compton Dando

One of the most ludicrous and petty attempts to stifle free speech in a very local area was reported by the Eye a few years ago. A Conservative member of the parish council for Compton Dando had been infuriated by anonymous posters put up around the village portraying him as Hitler. He therefore demanded the police find arrest the culprit. Such is the vanity and totalitarian need to control of even some of the most minor politicos. Of course, it goes without saying that by demanding the police act to arrest a political opponent, the Conservative councillor therefore proved his opponent’s case: he was like Adolf.

There’s thus the real danger that RIPA will lead to more attempts by the authorities to stop the free discussion and criticism of their rule. It’s another step in the gradual erosion of free speech in the UK.

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4 Responses to “RIPA and the Further Erosion of Free Speech and Democracy”

  1. sdbast Says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. Mark Catlin Says:

    Reblogged this on markcatlin3695's Blog.

  3. stilloaks Says:

    Reblogged this on Still Oaks.

  4. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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