Siol nan Gaidheal


NEW RIP & PTA LEGISLATION - AN UPDATE

I don't know how much attention this legislation is getting in Scotland but taken together the implications are very serious. There are three pieces of the puzzle that, when taken together (they are for all purposes one act), will have a chilling impact on perceived enemies of the state.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) - in force as of Oct. 5, 2000
This provides the government and its agencies the right to conduct three forms of covert surveillance:
1)Direct surveillance,
2) Intrusive surveillance
3)Covert surveillance (informers, agents and undercover officers).
The agencies involved are self-authorising and not subject to real judicial control. This law provides the Home Secretary with authorisation to issue warrants to intercept e-mails, faxes, pagers and private telecommunication systems. It also provides for covert investigations without warrants. ISP providers have to build in black boxes linked to an MI5 monitoring facility which will enable them to identify the pattern of individuals internet connections by monitoring web sites accessed and pages downloaded, addresses of e-mail contacts and discussion groups accessed. ISP providers will have to build in interception devices. When served with a warrant they are forced to intercept and disclose the contents to police or intelligence officers. Tipping off the client or any third party is subject to 5 years in prison. A single tribunal will hear all complaints but then a person is unlikely to complain if he is unaware of being under surveillance.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)- effective Feb. 2001(?)
This is purportedly designed to anticipate (and expand the definition of) "terrorist"
The sequence;
Step 1) Proscription of an organisation ("any association or combination of individuals"): It will be necessary for investigating officers to justify and later prove in court "reasonable suspicion" that persons or organisations were involved with terrorism. So "reasonable suspicion" that the target is inclined toward "the use of threat for purposes of advancing political, religious or ideological course of action which involves (anticipates) serious violence against person or property."

Step 2) Once proscribed, the organisation is added to a list by the Home Secretary. Police and intelligence officers may now apply sanction without judicial oversight or restraint in the case of "urgency" as defined in the law. An individual may be detained for up to 48 hrs without due process or notification on the authority of an officer of the rank of Superintendant.
Persons are deemed to have committed an offence if they
A. Are members of a proscribed organisation.
B. Support a proscribed organisation
C. Wear clothing (T-shirts) supporting...
D. Not reporting activities of....
E. The collection of information useful to....
F. Obstructing a search that is part of an investigation. And on and on....

It is an offence to address a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation. A "meeting" is defined as three or more persons, in public or in private. So you and two friends who may be under covert surveillance (see RIP above) may suddenly find yourselves liable for up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Under the terms of the new laws the onus will be on you to prove your innocence.

There is more to this legislation, primarily the checks and balances are entirely inadequate to safeguard a person's rights to privacy, freedom of speech and freedom of association. The powers of invasion and detention available to law and intelligence officers are draconian by democratic standards (not unheard of in Iraq though). If you go back you will see that the government has granted itself unprecedented access into the private live and business of its citizens. What justification is there for this when the British Isles (sic) are entering a period of greater peace and security than they have enjoyed in a long time?


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