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IP Bill, Brexit and Trump create perfect storm of autocracy

Posted by on November 22, 2016.

Writing in the New Scientist today, Ray Corrigan (a senior lecturer in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty at the Open University) describes the perfect storm for loss of liberty in the UK. It is the confluence of the IP Bill (“the most pervasive and invasive mass surveillance legislation in history”); the election of an unknown but vaguely worrying entity to the US presidency; and Brexit (the removal of any constitutional defence of human rights in the UK).

What particularly worries Corrigan is the special relationship, conferred by the Five Eyes arrangement, between GCHQ and the NSA.

GCHQ, the UK intelligence gathering hub, has now been provided with the legislative surveillance architecture of a police state. Mass surveillance on an unimaginable scale is about to become legal in the UK – pending the mere technicality of Royal Assent.

Given the close cooperation of GCHQ with the US National Security Agency under the post second world war Five Eyes arrangement, this mass data gathering apparatus will be in the hands of a US president who promised, while on the campaign trail, to reignite, expand and intensify US engagement in torture.

Corrigan quotes a recent tweet from Daniel Miessler:


Soon after that, Miessler adds: “I’m actually less worried about Trump than who he’s going to hire.” Fast-forward almost two weeks and we’re beginning to see who might worry him.

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
“…immigrants in the military in general are more likely to be spies.”

FCC transition team includes: Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison
“Both were supporters of Trump throughout the campaign, and both have previously shown themselves to be sitting in the anti-net neutrality camp, which could be a worry for current supporters of the Open Internet campaign.”

DoJ transition team includes: J. Patrick Rowan, Ronald Tenpas and Jesse Liu
“All three are former Department of Justice officials from the administration of George W. Bush.”
The Global Legal Post

DHS secretary: Kris Kobach
“…plans to question ‘high-risk’ immigrants over support for Sharia law and the U.S. Constitution… eliminating Syrian refugee intake.”
The Hill

Dept of the Interior (considered for): Mary Fallin, Sarah Palin, Forrest Lucas
“President-elect Donald Trump’s shortlist of candidates to lead the U.S. Department of Interior has employees and environmental advocates fearful of a shift in the agency’s direction, from one focused on preserving public lands to one that would open them up to more drilling and mining.”

CIA: Mike Pompeo
“…is a strong advocate for mass surveillance and restricting encryption.” “He [Snowden] should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think that the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence…”

UK Ambassador to the USA: Nigel Farage
“Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!”
Donald Trump

These are the few that I’ve seen. There may be others that are more reassuring, and yet others that are even more worrying. The one thing that is clear is that there will be a strong shift towards the right, possibly far right, isolationism and protectionism.

Corrigan is right to be worried about the combination of the IP Bill, Brexit and Trump. I think we can be certain that GCHQ will effectively collect data on British citizens on behalf of the FBI, CIA and NSA with the approval of President Trump — covertly, without judicial oversight and with no protection from the European Court of Human Rights.

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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions | Tags: , ,