If one needs any more reason to worry about the government’s GCSB bill, here is the latest news from the UK: police there seemed to spend more time investigating the murder of innocent school boy Stephen Lawrence’s family to undermine their anti-racism campaign than they did his murder.
An former undercover officer has said he posed as an anti-racism campaigner in a hunt for “disinformation” to use against those criticising the police, with an aim to smear the family.
Stephen Lawrence was a bright black boy in his last year of school when he was murdered while waiting for a bus 20 years ago. The police failed to put any effort into the investigation, which lead to a report that found the London police to be “institutionally racist”. His murderers were eventually sent down last year after a more recent investigation.
His family got traction against the police as they were upstanding members of the community – not wealthy, but a stable middle-class family with nothing to be held against them. They were also lucky as the Daily Mail – a highly influential daily with many racist stories – sent a reporter out to find out dirt on them, but found that the father had recently done some plastering work for the Editor Paul Dacre, so he ordered a very different, much kinder, tone to their reporting.
The news that the police spent great effort trying to find dirt to smear them should worry greatly anyone considering enhancing the police’s snooping powers with measures such as our GCSB bill.
Yes our police are generally trustworthy, but there’ll always be a few bad apples in the bunch. Just look at those in the UK who collaborated with the likes of News International to pass on confidential information to sell newspapers. The motivation gets stronger when it involves looking after their own – just see Mike Bush’s defence of Bruce Hutton.
And with more information for our combined law and spying agencies comes more power – who would contradict the NSA with PRISM and related programs telling them everything about you and your friends and family? There’s no worries for Booz Allen and similar contractors consuming 70% of the budget of the intelligence services…
So giving the police / SIS / armed forces powers to use the GCSB to grab whatever information they want on whoever they want (with a warrant, but the GCSB will grab an awful lot of related information as by-catch) is something that wants a whole lot more consideration than it’s being given. Making a foreign intelligence agency into a domestic one seems unlikely to enhance our ‘security’.
And that’s before they start holding back the technologies of our Internet Providers because they don’t provide enough snooping powers (the bill allows them to veto new IP systems)…