UK Home Secretary Theresa May said on Sunday that it is “essential” to grant intelligence agencies the capacity to access communications data, despite overwhelming opposition to the Draft Communications Data Bill, first published last year.
The bill — widely known as the ‘snooper’s charter’— is making a
comeback, alongside tighter controls on extremist groups, after a
proposed stepping-up of Internet surveillance following the
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg withdrew his support from the bill
in April on the grounds that it was an invasion of privacy.
This ‘snooper’s charter’ would have given agencies, including
police and intelligence services, access to information and data
collection by Internet service providers, including details of
individuals’ web browsing history, social media messages and
internet gaming, storing them all for 12 months.
“Intelligence agencies need access,” May told the BBC’s Andrew
Marr Show, going on to confirm that she was pressuring for the
passage of the charter in the wake of the vicious attack that
killed off-duty soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
UK Privacy campaigners have reacted with fury to the proposed
“It is remarkable for politicians to be jumping to legislation to
monitor the entire country when all the evidence to date shows this
horrific attack would not have been prevented by the communications
data bill,” said Emma Carr of the UK’s Big Brother Watch in a
statement released on Sunday.
Carr added that the law would hinder, rather than enhance
anti-terror operations: It “would divert resources from focused
surveillance operations at a time when the agencies are already
struggling to cope with the volume of information available,”
One parliamentary researcher seemed to agree, tweeting that:
“Security Services say they struggle to monitor 4,000 leads; how
would giving them access to 60m help?”
Michael Adebolajo, the primary murder suspect in the killing of
25-year-old British Army drummer Lee Rigby on a busy east London
street, stated to a phone camera shortly following the event that
the attack was a case of“an eye for an eye.”
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until
you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason
we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers
every day,” he said.
He and the second Woolwich attack suspect, the younger Michael
Adebowale, were both known to MI5 but not assessed as being a
“threat to life.” Adebolajo had reportedly handed out a
wealth of extremist literature and made “rambling and
intense” lectures on London’s streets. He was later found to
have appeared in a court in Mombassa, Kenya, in 2010 and
subsequently deported to Britain.
It emerged on Sunday that he had been arrested in Kenya and
appeared in court after being detained on the Somalia border. He
was suspected of involvement in leading a group of Islamists to
join up with terrorists in Somalia.
One of Adebolajo’s childhood friends later claimed that MI5 had
attempted to recruit him.
The idea that the case was a lone wolf attack was later
dismissed, as a further three men, aged 21, 24 and 28, were
arrested in southeast London under suspicion of involvement in the
killing. However, details of the case were not revealed on account
of the sensitivity of the investigation. On Sunday,
counter-terrorism officers arrested another 22-year-old man in
relation to the killing.
Michael Adebolajo, 28 and Michael Adebowale, 22, are both in
hospital accompanied by guards following their shooting and
In her interview, May also proposed measures banning groups
preaching hate, suggesting that the threshold for defining such a
group should be set much lower.
“We need to look… at the question of whether perhaps we need
to have banning orders, to ban organizations that don’t meet the
threshold for proscription. We need to look at organizations
outside government as well as what government is doing. Whether
we’ve got the right processes, the right rules in place in relation
to what is being beamed into people’s homes,” she told the
The setting up of a new group on Sunday was announced by UK
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office, stating that it would aim to
fighting radicalism in schools and mosques, tighten checks on
Internet material deemed inflammatory, and disrupt any “poisonous
narrative” of hardline clerics, according to Reuters.
“It will assess the range of strategies to disrupt
individuals who may be influential in fostering extremism. It needs
to confront those religious leaders who promote violence head
on,” the office said in a statement, echoing May’s claim that
“thousands” are at risk of being radicalized through the
dissemination of information deemed extremist.
May suggested measures such as the use of court orders to block
some websites, using the justification that people are able to
watch things online “that can lead to
A British religious campaign group, Faith Matters, said that
Rigby’s death had led to a leap in reports of attacks on Muslims,
while a government-backed hotline reported a tenfold increase in
Islamophobic hate crimes. Attacks on Mosques and anti-Muslim
graffiti were among the offenses reported.
The British National Party (BNP) held a protest in Woolwich on
Saturday, ‘United against Muslim terror,’ and English Defence
League marches in Newcastle over the weekend drew somewhere between
1,500 and 2,000 people.
Marchers were heard to be shouting “Whose streets? Our streets”
and “RIP Lee Rigby.” The EDL has a central London demonstration
planned for Monday as well.
Eleven people in total have been arrested across the UK for making
racist or anti-religious comments on social media, according to the
Daily Mail. Nearly two thirds of Britons believe there will be a
clash between the Muslim population of the UK and the white
non-Muslim population, according to a YouGov poll published on
Saturday. Expectations of a serious clash have risen nine points to
59 percent, according to the poll.
The percentage of respondents believing that Muslims pose a serious
threat to democracy is up to 34 percent, from 30 percent in
November 2012. However, two-thirds of YouGov poll respondents
declared that they felt negatively about protests led by the two
bodies, with a full 84 percent saying that they would never join
The Woolwich brutality could lead to long-lasting community
relations damage, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a speech
on Saturday. “Fear is an extraordinarily powerful emotion and
when it takes root,” he said.
This article originally appeared on: RT