In the wake of the ISIS attack on Paris, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is advocating a fast-tracking of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The DIPB a controversial new piece of legislation which will expand the British government’s legal abilities to monitor Internet usage within the UK.
The attack, which claimed the lives of more than 120 civilians in multiple locations and was reportedly orchestrated via the PlayStation Network, shocked the world Friday night and led governments around the world to consider their own security in the face of ISIS, including Britain. Most vocally in support of the DIPB over the weekend was Lord Carlile, who formerly acted as an independent reviewer of British legislation as regards terrorism. Carlile made a summary leap in logic by blaming Edward Snowden for terrorist sophistication, saying:
The Investigatory Powers Bill, which was published in draft form a fortnight ago by Home Secretary Theresa May, gives our spies all the powers they need to fight terrorism in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, which have shown terrorists ways to hide their electronic footprints.
Similar logic, applied elsewhere, would lead one to believe that police procedural drama shows such as Law & Order give criminals new ideas. After all, ISIS has never come out and publicly thanked Edward Snowden for showing them the miracle of cryptography.
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Secure digital communications have existed nearly as long as insecure ones have. It’s a needs-based type of technology, and most average people did not feel the need to encrypt their communications until after the revelation that Big Brother was most definitely listening. Carlile believes the legislation should be adopted by the end of this year, rather than the end of next.
Carlile is what amounts to a British pundit, however, and inconsequential in comparison to David Cameron, who announced the addition of 1,900 staff to GHCQ, the British spy agency. Some have called the announcement’s timing into question because the additional employees were approved prior to Friday’s attacks.
Cameron said of the controversy surrounding the legislation:
We do need to take parliament and people with us. And remember this is about maintaining our capabilities and putting everything on a very clear statutory footing.
In a more aggressive gesture, Lord Carlile dismissed civil libertarian critics in his Daily Mail piece, saying:
Now the whole of Parliament needs to be decisive. […] The Liberal Democrats are approaching these issues from a civil liberties point of view, and the SNP, who are an important party in Parliament, are all over the place. Its leaders should now tell its MPs that freedom, whether of speech or of action, depends on safety. […] The powers sought in relation to communications will strengthen, not weaken, the liberal State.
The terrorists who attacked Bataclan and elsewhere are alleged to have used the PlayStation Network to do so. Even with the authority to monitor such networks, governments will find it extraordinarily difficult to extrapolate any useful intelligence from so doing.
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