European News


Only 2.65 Percent of Immigrants into Italy Are Refugees

24th April 2017

According to official reports, during the year 2016, only 2.65 percent of those immigrating into Italy were awarded asylum as refugees, with the vast majority staying on in the country as illegal, undocumented immigrants.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), a total of 181,436 migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Italy during 2016, a record year in recent history. This figure does not include those who were able to enter the country undetected, but only those who were officially registered either by Italian officials or NGOs.

Of these, only 4,808 were recognized as refugees and awarded asylum in Italy, a mere 2.65 percent of the total number of those making the crossing.

A disturbing statistic that has recently come to light reveals that half of the migrants arriving in the country (90,334) never even requested asylum, but disappeared into the country as undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to by the Italians as “clandestini.”

The remaining 91,902 migrants applied for asylum, and 60 percent of these (54,252) had their petitions rejected unconditionally. Another 21 percent (18,979) were awarded “humanitarian protection,” allowing them a renewable yearly permission to remain in the country, and 14 percent more (12,873) were given “subsidiary protection.”

The 4,808 immigrants who were awarded asylum represent 5.28 percent of the asylum seekers and therefore only 2.65 percent of the total number of immigrants entering in the country during the year.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of immigrants into Italy were denied asylum, fewer than 5,000 were deported in 2016, meaning that more than 175,000 remained in the country, most of them illegally.

Despite last year’s record immigration into Italy, the first quarter of 2017 registered a 30 percent jump compared with the same period in 2016. Shortly afterward, Italy received another 8,500 migrants in a single weekend as migrants poured into the country over Easter.

The leader of the Northern League (La Lega) political party, Matteo Salvini, announced that he would bring a case against government leaders for promotion of illegal immigration into the country.

“It is now clear that illegal immigration is organized and financed and for this reason we have decided to bring a case against the government, the President of the Council, the ministers and the commanders of the Navy and the Coast Guard,” Salvini said.

 

source: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/04/24/report-only-2-65-percent-of-immigrants-into-italy-are-refugees/

Suspect device found in deadly Stockholm attack truck

8th April 2017

Swedish police found a suspect device in the truck that ploughed into a Stockholm crowd killing four in Europe’s latest such terror attack, officials said Saturday.

The alleged driver, who is in custody, is a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan who was already known to Swedish police, authorities said.

“We have found a device in the vehicle that doesn’t belong there … A technical examination is ongoing, we can’t go into what it is right now … whether it’s a bomb or a flammable device,” police chief Dan Eliasson told reporters.

Intelligence agency chief Anders Thornberg added that the Uzbek suspect “has appeared in our intelligence gathering in the past”.

“There is nothing to indicate that we’ve got the wrong man. On the contrary, the suspicions have strengthened,” Eliasson added.

Flags flew at half-mast across Stockholm on Saturday as the city slowly returned to normal a day after the attack.

A stolen beer truck ploughed into a crowd of people at the corner of the bustling Ahlens department store and the Drottninggatan pedestrian street on Friday afternoon, above ground from Stockholm’s central subway station.

Fifteen people were injured, nine of whom remained in hospital on Saturday.

– Latest attack in Europe –

It was the third terror attack in Europe in two weeks, coming on the heels of assaults in London and St. Petersburg, although there has been no immediate claim of responsibility.

Previous attacks using vehicles have occurred in London, Berlin and the southern French city of Nice, all of them claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who said Sweden will hold a minute’s silence on Monday in memory of the victims, has beefed up Sweden’s border controls.

“Terrorists want us to be afraid, want us to change our behaviour, want us to not live our lives normally, but that is what we’re going to do. So terrorists can never defeat Sweden, never,” Lofven said.

City streets were empty early Saturday, slowly filling as the day wore on as things began to return to normal — apart from a heavy police presence, a rare scene in this normally tranquil country.

A swelling crowd milled by the security barrier erected around the scene, many placing flowers on the ground or in the security fence.

Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, 39, was one of those laying down a bouquet, wiping tears from her cheek.

“I feel an incredible sadness, an emptiness,” she told reporters. But she said: “Society has demonstrated enormous strength and we stand together against this.”

– Suspected driver in custody –

The suspected driver was detained on Friday in Marsta, a suburb north of Stockholm. According to several media outlets, he is an IS supporter.

Intelligence agency Sapo said meanwhile it was hunting for “possible accomplices or networks that may have been involved in the attack.”

Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic on Friday.

“A massive truck starts driving … and mangles everything and just drives over exactly everything,” eyewitness Rikard Gauffin told AFP.

“It was so terrible and there were bodies lying everywhere… it was really terrifying,” he added.

The truck was towed away in the early hours of Saturday.

– ‘It was expected’ –

An attack on Stockholm was just a matter of time, the head of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, Magnus Ranstorp, told AFP.

“It was pretty expected, the police and intelligence agency have practised for this several times the past year… We just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” he said.

Friday’s attack was the latest in a string of assaults with vehicles in Europe.

The deadliest came last year in France on the July 14 Bastille Day national holiday, when a man rammed a truck into a crowd in the Mediterranean resort of Nice, killing 86 people.

In December, a man hijacked a truck and slammed into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

In London last month, Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam, killed five people when he drove a car at high speed into pedestrians before launching a frenzied knife attack on a policeman guarding parliament.

In 2014, IS called for attacks on citizens of Western countries and gave instructions on how they could be carried out without military equipment, using rocks or knives, or by running people over in vehicles.

Friday’s attack was the second terror attack in Stockholm.

In December 2010, a suicide bomber blew himself up, also on the Drottninggatan pedestrian street, lightly injuring several passersby.

 

source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/sweden-arrests-suspected-driver-stockholm-terrorist-crime-081823796.html

Most Europeans want immigration ban from Muslim-majority countries, poll reveals

8th Feb 2017

A majority of Europeans want a ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a poll has revealed.

An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries.

The Chatham House study, conducted before US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries, found majorities in all but two of the ten states opposed immigration from mainly Muslim countries.

Only 20 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent said they did not know.

muslim graph

A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.

In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.

In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban.

Of those surveyed, opposition to Muslim immigration was especially intense among older people, while those under 30 were less opposed.

There was also a contrast between those with secondary level qualifications, of which 59 per cent opposed Muslim immigration, and degree holders, of which less than half supported halting immigration.

A Pew survey of 10 European countries in 2016 found majorities in five countries had an unfavourable view of Muslims living in their country.

muslim graph2

Of those, 72 per cent of Hungarians had a negative view of Muslims, followed by 69 per cent of Italians, 66 per cent of Poles, 65 per cent of Greeks and 50 per cent of Spaniards.

In the UK, only 28 per cent said they had an unfavourable view of Muslims, while in Germany and France 29 per cent said the same.

 

source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

Don’t Say ‘Mothers’ – It Offends Transgender People

sit-down-fuckhead

30th Jan 2017

Doctors have been told to refer to expectant mothers as “pregnant people” so as not to offend transgender people, in official guidelines issued by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The controversial advice appears in a 14-page booklet on “inclusive language in the workplace” which also rules that the terms ‘biologically male’ and ‘biologically female’ are problematic, and instructs doctors to instead say that the individual was ‘assigned’ male or female at birth.

The union’s new guidelines come just weeks after it emerged that a British woman in the process of ‘transitioning’ gender put her operation on hold to have a baby, the Mail on Sunday reports.

775,000 women give birth in Britain each year, yet there are no other known cases of people in the process of ‘transition’ becoming pregnant.

Despite this, the BMA demands the word ‘mothers’ be dropped from doctors’ vocabularies in relation to pregnancy because it’s offensive to transgender people, and in order to “celebrate diversity”.

The booklet states: “A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women. However, there are some intersex men and trans men who may get pregnant.

“We can include intersex men and trans men who may get pregnant by saying “pregnant people” instead of “expectant mothers.”

Heather Ashton, of the transgender support group TG Pals welcomed the new guidance, stating that the change in terminology “can only be a positive thing”.

It’s not only politically correct terminology relating to transgender issues that is covered in the guidelines issued by the doctors’ professional association and trade union.

Members are advised against using ‘male-centric language’, an example of which is the instruction to use the term ‘family name’ instead of ‘surname’, the booklet noting that some linguists believe the latter word “may originate from sire-name, the name derived from one’s father”.

‘Christian name’ is another term the BMA say should be banished from doctors’ vocabularies, the guidelines stating that “to ask a Jewish or Muslim person their Christian name not only makes no sense, but is also highly disrespectful of their beliefs.”

In a section of the booklet relating to race, doctors are warned that “difficulties can arise with expressions that use ‘black’ in a negative way, eg ‘black sheep’, or ‘black mark’.”

In an introduction to the booklet, BMA executive Dr Anthea Mowat said the new guidelines serve to “support and protect our colleagues and our patients”.

However the advice is patronising and overreaching according to Jon Stanley, health research fellow at the Bow Group, who also criticised the BMA’s politically correct attempts to deny biological reality with language.

He told Breitbart London: “The union is determined to double down on their losses from last year by doing anything and everything except competently represent doctors. Any doctor worth their salt will be sensitive and professional anyway.

“The idea the union speaks for the profession or guides it is risible and deeply offensive to many who feel they have lost too much autonomy already.

“Whilst showing respect to all, any doctor treating someone who is transgender must assess them on their biology as many disease patterns are gender influenced,” he said on Sunday.

 

Source; http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/01/29/doctors-told-term-mothers-offends-trans/

Hungary Plans to Crackdown on All Soros-Funded NGOs

evil soros

11th Jan 2017

Hungary plans to crack down on non-governmental organizations linked to billionaire George Soros now that Donald Trump will occupy the White House, according to the deputy head of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party.

The European Union member will use “all the tools at its disposal” to “sweep out” NGOs funded by the Hungarian-born financier, which “serve global capitalists and back political correctness over national governments,” Szilard Nemeth, a vice president of the ruling Fidesz party, told reporters on Tuesday. No one answered the phone at the Open Society Institute in Budapest when Bloomberg News called outside business hours.

“I feel that there is an opportunity for this, internationally,” because of Trump’s election, state news service MTI reported Nemeth as saying. Lawmakers will start debating a bill to let authorities audit NGO executives, according to parliament’s legislative agenda.

Orban, the first European leader to publicly back Trump’s campaign, has ignored criticism from the European Commission and U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration for building a self-described “illiberal state” modeled on authoritarian regimes including Russia, China and Turkey. In 2014, Orban personally ordered the state audit agency to probe foundations financed by Norway and said that civil society groups financed from abroad were covers for “paid political activists.”

Orban and his administration have frequently singled out NGOs supported by Soros, a U.S. Democratic Party supporter with a wide network of organizations that promote democracy in formerly communist eastern Europe.

‘Power Structure’

Trump also accused the 86-year-old billionaire of being part of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

In a pre-election commercial, he showed images of Soros along with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, all of whom are Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League criticized the ad for touching on “subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”

 

 

source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-10/trump-s-win-prompts-hungarian-call-for-crackdown-on-soros-groups

 

Swedish Six-Hour Workday Trial Runs Into Trouble: Too Expensive

argh matey

4th Jan 2016

Swedes looking forward to a six-hour workday just got some bad news: the costs outweigh the benefits.

That’s according to the preliminary results of a two-year experiment carried out in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the home of Volvo. To reduce the 8-hour days at the 68-nurse Svartedalen old people’s home, the city had to hire 17 extra staff at a cost of 12 million kronor ($2.2 million).

The study showed that employees felt healthier, which reduced sick-leave absence, and that patient care improved, but the city won’t push ahead to make the plan permanent.

“It’s associated with higher costs, absolutely,” said Daniel Bernmar, a local left-wing politician responsible for running the municipality’s elderly care. “It’s far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within a reasonable time frame.”

The Gothenburg experiment is just the latest in a series of shorter working day trials carried out in Sweden, a country that prides itself on its generous welfare state. The trial has been closely watched globally, with labor activists touting progressive Sweden as a role model in shortening working hours.

And while historical data shows that the length of average working days has fallen in Sweden over the past century, there are currently no plans to establish six-hour working days at a national level.

Still, Bernmar says he’d like to see more studies into whether an abbreviated working day could also result in long-term gains for society as a whole. One argument is that it could allow people employed in labor-intensive professions to extend their working life.

“I personally believe in shorter working hours as a long-term solution,” he said. “The richer we become, the more we need to take advantage of that wealth in other ways than through a newer car or higher consumption.”

 

 

 

source:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-03/swedish-six-hour-workday-trial-runs-into-trouble-too-expensive

Asylum seekers scam German aid program for millions by applying with ‘up to 12’ fake IDs

gtfo

2nd Jan 2016

A special commission in the northern German city of Braunschweig will investigate over 300 cases of fraud committed by asylum applicants, who gamed the welfare system by using multiple IDs to claim benefits – and that may just be the tip of the iceberg.

The estimated total loss of taxpayer money in the state of Lower Saxony alone has been put at three to five million euros ($3.2-5.3 million), Regional German broadcaster NDR reported.

In the majority of cases, the scheme was employed by Sudanese refugees who were applying for benefits within the social welfare system, the head of the newly established investigative commission, Joern Memenga, said, as cited by Deutsche Welle.

The scammers allegedly took advantage of the extreme workload the civil servants who were registering the applications were under in the summer of 2015, at the peak of the European migrant crisis.l

“At that point, we wanted to avoid one thing – homelessness,” Memenga said, adding that in some cases the same employees had registered more than one alias per applicant.

The welfare claimants would simply change their appearance to receive additional documents from unsuspecting social service workers. The not so sophisticated con met few road bumps, as the refugees did not have to give their fingerprints and, since they had no documents, were identified only from photographs.

“Sometimes just growing a beard, or putting on a pair of glasses, having shorter hair, but always different surnames,” Memenga said, as cited by DPA.

The system was also susceptible to rigging because the civil servants did not have time to sift through all of the applications processed at other municipalities in Lower Saxony, so the same asylum seeker could collect money from different places.

Eventually, one of the employees noticed that some of men in the photos look strikingly similar and sounded the alarm, reporting his suspicions to the police, regional broadcaster NRP, which broke the story, reported

In one of the most extreme cases uncovered so far, one man was able to bamboozle the state to the tune of tens of thousands of euros using twelve fake identities.

“Our crassest case has twelve alias-personalities. Damage: 45,000 euros, at least,” Memenga said, as cited by NRP.

Pursuant to the Asylum Seekers Act, every asylum seeker is entitled to €135 of so-called pocket money and €216 per month to cover basic needs, if the asylum seekers are not on complete state provision.

“Excluding the cost of electricity, you reach about 320 to 350 euros per alias identity and person,” Memenga said. It is estimated that a ‘refugee’ with three to four identities could have drained an extra 5,000 to 10,000 euros from the state coffers.

Though the fraud has now been exposed, the suspects may not face charges due to legal difficulties, as in most cases they used fake names and addresses.

“Without a place of residence, no legal hearing and no service of an accusation [is possible],” Julia Meyer of Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office told NRP.

“By the time their cover is blown, they have mostly moved on already,” Meyaer added, as cited by DPA.

Last year, Germany received almost three times fewer asylum seekers than in 2015. Some 350,000 asylum seekers entered the country in 2016, while 890,000 people crossed into Germany the year before. The German government spent some €559 million on integration courses for migrants in 2016 alone, and the sum is set to increase to over €600 million next year.

 

source;https://www.rt.com/news/372466-germany-migrant-welfare-fraud/

The 48 Organizations That Now Have Access To Every Brit’s Browsing History

big-brother-1984

27th Nov 2016

Last week, in a troubling development for privacy advocates everywhere, we reported that the UK has passed the “snooper charter” effectively ending all online privacy. Now, the mainstream media has caught on and appears to be displeased. As AP writes today, “after months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.”

For those who missed our original reports, here is the new law in a nutshell: it requires telecom companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers. Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom. They are right.

While Edward Snowden previously blasted the law, none other than Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

Coming at a time when the mainstream media is lashing out at non-traditional websites, which it brands either with the derogatory “altright”, or simply slams as “Russian propaganda” to deflect from the fact that the MSM has been exposed as being a PR arm of the ruling establishment, the Investigatory Powers Bill-  called the “snoopers’ charter” by critics –  was passed by UK Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments, and with its passage shifts “1984” from the fiction to the non-fiction section, as the formation of the surveillance police state is now effectively complete.

The charter will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent next week but – as AP notes – big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of often outdated rules and giving law-enforcement agencies the tools to fight terrorism and serious crime.

In a move right out of the Soviet Union’s darkest days (which never even imagned central planning to the extent that modern “developed market” central bankers have unleashed this decade), the law requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records — a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary. Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency. “My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

Even worse, the new law also makes official — and legal — British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the U.K. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by Edward Snowden.

* * *

Which government agencies have access to the internet history of any British citizen? Here is the answer courtesy of blogger Chris Yuo, who has compiled the list:

  • Metropolitan police force
  • City of London police force
  • Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
  • Police Service of Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • Royal Navy Police
  • Royal Military Police
  • Royal Air Force Police
  • Security Service
  • Secret Intelligence Service
  • GCHQ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department of Health
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Crime Agency
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
  • Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
  • Competition and Markets Authority
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
  • Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Gambling Commission
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
  • Information Commissioner
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
  • Office of Communications
  • Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Board
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

In other words, everyone.

* * *

While privacy groups unsucessfully battled to stop the new legislation, and now will challenge it in court, public opposition has been largely muted in part because the bill’s passage has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the scandalous upheaval that has followed.

How did that old saying go… “don’t let a crisis go to waste.” Well, the UK is now independent from Europe, and in the process its population quietly lost all of its internet privacy.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online. This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

It remains to be seen if the UK’s citizens will be able overturn the law once it does become clear to the public what has just happened.

 

source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-26/these-are-48-organizations-now-have-access-every-brits-browsing-history

Edward Snowden loses Norway safe passage case

edward-snow

27th Nov 2016

Edward Snowden’s bid to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US if he visited Norway has been rejected by the Norwegian supreme court.

The former National Security Agency contractor filed the lawsuit in April, attempting to secure safe passage to Norway to pick up a free speech award.

It had already been rejected by Oslo District court and an appeals court.

Mr Snowden is a former NSA analyst who leaked secret US surveillance details three years ago.

As a result, he is facing charges in the US which could put him in prison for up to 30 years.

Mr Snowden’s lawyers have previously said if he were extradited to the US, it would be “a foregone conclusion” that he would be convicted and jailed.

Mr Snowden has been living in Russia, out of reach of the US authorities, since the leaks in 2013.

He had hoped to travel to Oslo to receive the Ossietzky Prize, for “outstanding efforts for freedom of expression”.

The award was due to be presented earlier this month.

But the Norwegian Supreme Court said it could not rule on the legality of any move to extradite Mr Snowden as the US had so far made no such request.

 

source:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38109167

‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper

yeah um

19th Nov 2016

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden in 2013 revealed the scale of mass surveillance – or bulk data collection as the security agencies prefer to describe it – by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ, which work in tandem.

But, against a backdrop of fears of Islamist attacks, the privacy lobby has failed to make much headway. Even in Germany, with East Germany’s history of mass surveillance by the Stasi and where Snowden’s revelations produced the most outcry, the Bundestag recently passed legislation giving the intelligence agencies more surveillance powers.

The US passed a modest bill last year curtailing bulk phone data collection but the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election is potentially a major reverse for privacy advocates. On the campaign trail, Trump made comments that implied he would like to use the powers of the surveillance agencies against political opponents.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said: “We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. If Labour had backed us up, we could have made the bill better. We have ended up with a bad bill because they were all over the place.

“The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises powers that the security agencies and police had been using for years without making this clear to either the public or parliament. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

One of the negative aspects of the legislation is that it fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources, which could discourage whistleblowing.

One of the few positives in the legislation is that it sets out clearly for the first time the surveillance powers available to the intelligence services and the police. It legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Privacy groups are challenging the surveillance powers in the European court of human rights and elsewhere.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy. The state has unprecedented powers to monitor and analyse UK citizens’ communications regardless of whether we are suspected of any criminal activity.”

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “The passing of the investigatory powers bill has fundamentally changed the face of surveillance in this country. None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.”

Trump’s victory started speculation that, given his warm words for Vladimir Putin, he might do a deal with the Russian president to have Snowden sent back to the US where he faces a long jail sentence. Snowden has lived in Russia since leaking tens of thousands of documents to journalists in 2013.

But Bill Binney, a former member of the NSA who became a whistleblower, expressed scepticism: “I am not sure if the relationship a President Trump would have with President Putin would be bad for Snowden.

“In Russia, he would still be an asset that maybe Putin would use in bargaining with Trump. Otherwise, Snowden does have a large support network around the world plus in the US and Trump may not want to disturb that. Also, I think any move to get Snowden out of Russia and into US courts would also open up support for at least three other lawsuits against the US government’s unconstitutional surveillance.”

  • This article was amended on 19 November 2016. The act has not yet received royal assent, as stated in an earlier version.

 

source; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper