Legislation to counter state threats

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Fishnut
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Legislation to counter state threats

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:27 am

The government is proposing an overhaul of the Official Secrets Act and among the changes it wants to make it easier to prosecute journalists and their sources for their involvement in government leaks by treating them like spies rather than people holding their government to account,
The Home Office consultation (which closes on Thursday 22 July) suggests journalists should be treated in the same way as those who leak information and those committing espionage offences.

It also looked at whether maximum sentences should be increased from two to 14 years.

The Home Office said it does “not consider that there is necessarily a distinction in severity between espionage and the most serious unauthorised disclosures, in the same way that there was in 1989”.
As this piece explains, "unauthorised disclosures" have led to many important news stories,
High-profile examples of stories based on unauthorised disclosures include Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 of the activities of US and UK spy agencies, including major global surveillance programmes, in 2013. The leaks led to a broader debate about the role of the state in facilitating mass surveillance.

Unauthorised disclosures also paved the way for the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal. This provided evidence of widespread abuse of the parliamentary expenses system, including MPs taking advantage of a generous second home allowance, and charging the public purse for £1,700 floating duck houses and £2,000 for moat cleaning.

These leaks brought to light important information in the public interest, and led to widespread resignations and legislative and policy change, including the establishment of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
The attacks on civil liberties by this government, and the Home Secretary in particular - through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Nationality and Borders Bill and now this - are really very troubling. Without wishing to be hyperbolic, I fear we are sleepwalking into some very bad times and are relying too much on the false assurance that "bad things don't happen here".
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discovolante
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Re: Legislation to counter state threats

Post by discovolante » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:35 am

I also think it's about time that 'bad things don't happen here' was qualified to add '...to white people with passports' (or a variant of that, there are lots of marginalised groups of course). Sorry if that seems like a bit of a pointless statement but I guess that apart from it being incredibly selfish, we ignore the way the government treats and has treated other people for years at our peril.
socialism is when the government does stuff

Millennie Al
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Re: Legislation to counter state threats

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:59 pm

discovolante wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:35 am
I also think it's about time that 'bad things don't happen here' was qualified to add '...to white people with passports'
I think it's more accurate to just say "bad things happen here". It's not clear that there is any group who are guaranteed immunity, apart from friends of those currently in power. In the Matrix Churchill case it seems that white men with passports narrowly escaped conviction caused by improper public interest immunity certificates.

Maybe we just have to accept that there can be no official secrets as they are too open to abuse. "Public interest" so often seems to turn out to be the interests of those with the power to keep secrets.
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Re: Legislation to counter state threats

Post by JQH » Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:21 am

Treating journalists as spies is straight out of the dictator's playbook. I don't think you're being hyperbolic at all.
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snoozeofreason
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Re: Legislation to counter state threats

Post by snoozeofreason » Sat Jul 24, 2021 1:29 pm

discovolante wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:35 am
I also think it's about time that 'bad things don't happen here' was qualified to add '...to white people with passports' (or a variant of that, there are lots of marginalised groups of course). Sorry if that seems like a bit of a pointless statement but I guess that apart from it being incredibly selfish, we ignore the way the government treats and has treated other people for years at our peril.
Given the hollowing out of the legal aid system that has happened over the last decade, I think the qualification needs to run something along the lines of '...to white people with passports and very deep pockets.' Or possibly, to white people with very deep pockets who don't mind waiting months and years for any a case they are involved in to be allocated court time, and who don't find that evidence relating to that case has gone missing in the interim.

When we think about the threats posed by the government to our civil liberties we tend to be very mindful of active attempts to grant that government more legislative power - and so we should - but the slow disempowerment of ordinary citizens by limiting access to the law tends to get less coverage because it is often rather gradual (and also because it often effects people who are easily viewed in an unsympathetic light).
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discovolante
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Re: Legislation to counter state threats

Post by discovolante » Sun Jul 25, 2021 9:58 am

snoozeofreason wrote:
Sat Jul 24, 2021 1:29 pm
discovolante wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:35 am
I also think it's about time that 'bad things don't happen here' was qualified to add '...to white people with passports' (or a variant of that, there are lots of marginalised groups of course). Sorry if that seems like a bit of a pointless statement but I guess that apart from it being incredibly selfish, we ignore the way the government treats and has treated other people for years at our peril.
Given the hollowing out of the legal aid system that has happened over the last decade, I think the qualification needs to run something along the lines of '...to white people with passports and very deep pockets.' Or possibly, to white people with very deep pockets who don't mind waiting months and years for any a case they are involved in to be allocated court time, and who don't find that evidence relating to that case has gone missing in the interim.

When we think about the threats posed by the government to our civil liberties we tend to be very mindful of active attempts to grant that government more legislative power - and so we should - but the slow disempowerment of ordinary citizens by limiting access to the law tends to get less coverage because it is often rather gradual (and also because it often effects people who are easily viewed in an unsympathetic light).
You're preaching to the choir here pal :) although the media focus tends to be on the criminal courts (which is fair enough) it isn't really all sunshine and roses on the civil side either. Caveat here that I'm comparing one of the busiest courts in central London to a fairly rural court in Scotland, but the contrast from dealing with Central London county court (and a few others) to moving to Scotland and dealing with some of the local sheriff courts here was obscene. In central London it could take months - at one point around a year - to deal with some types of correspondence, you couldn't actually speak to anyone from the court on the phone, and it was basically pointless to actually do anything on cases because it just wouldn't get dealt with (so there is the standard case procedure to follow but depending on what happens with a case you can lodge applications to try and get other stuff to happen in the meantime - pointless). If the court makes a mistake (which it often did) it could take weeks to resolve. Moving to Scotland, I could call the courts directly, know several of the clerks by name, if something was urgent you could give them a bell and ask if they could deal with it quickly, if you're at the court itself you could pop over to the counter to speak to someone etc. Not all courts are the same of course but the difference was astounding. Chronic understaffing and high staff turnover was a big problem.

And it wasn't that uncommon for civil courts in England to lose files either...although the consequences are generally less dire because a lot of it is just documents that are saved on your computer somewhere so you end up 'helping' the court by sending it all back to them again...

And yeah legal aid is f.cked. Payment for judicial review proceedings in England and Wales is still conditional and at the discretion of the legal aid agency in some circumstances - so in most types of cases, if you are awarded legal aid then you get it, you get paid (not without lots of knock backs for certain payments etc, but that's about how much not whether or not you get paid at all). For judicial review if you don't win then you might just not get paid (broadly speaking, it's a bit more complicated than that), and judicial review is resource intensive. See here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/civi ... ial-review

In Scotland for what it's worth, legal aid is much more widely available in terms of the types of cases you can get it for, but the pay is absolute peanuts, worse than England and Wales...

Anyway that was a bit of a rambly ramble!
socialism is when the government does stuff

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