Last week Edward Snowden, a former technical contractor for the NSA and CIA, released classified documents concerning the NSA’s and GCHQ’s involvement in mass-surveillance programmes that apparently analyse and monitor global phone calls and store huge amounts of internet data, as part of secret operations code-named PRISM and Tempora.
When they should have been arresting suspects, seizing bloody clothes and looking for a knife, it turns out the Met Police's priority was to send in Special Demonstration Squad officers to infiltrate supporters of Stephen Lawrence’s family. Even the Lawrences’ Family Liaison Officer was told to record and report back to HQ with the names of every person that visited this devastated, grieving family. “It makes me really, really angry that all of this has been going on all the time, trying to undermine us as a family,” Doreen Lawrence told Channel 4’s Dispatches programme last night. “Out of all the things I’ve found out over the years, this certainly has topped it”.
"I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in. My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. They are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them. I don't see myself as a hero, because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity. What they're doing poses an existential threat to democracy".
Last night, Liberty joined hundreds of demonstrators to condemn cuts to legal aid. The protest took place outside the Ministry of Justice, provoked by devastating attacks on our legal system which are coming thick and fast. The atmosphere was brilliant as I joined speakers from a host of other legal organisations and campaign groups in sharing Liberty’s concerns about the misguided reforms with the crowd.
The opportunistic response to the shocking murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich continues apace as yet more politicians take to the papers and airwaves to demand the revival of the dreaded Draft Communications Data Bill. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and others have today spoken of their support for the “Snoopers’ Charter”, which Home Secretary Theresa May suggests she may try to resurrect after last week’s horror. Murmurings from senior Labour figures hint that they might back a scaled-down version of the Bill.
The Liberty Members’ Conference and AGM took place on Saturday and by all accounts it was one of our best ever! Joined by our members and special guests, the day of discussions ranged from saving the Human Rights Act to safeguarding free speech online.