Hello and welcome to RINF alternative news, I’m Mick Meaney and in this report we’re going to look at the future of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, RIPA, one of the UK’s most draconian, controversial and invasive anti-privacy laws.
This heinous Act which was established in two thousand, gives authorities the power to legally carry out a disturbing range of direct and covert surveillance, and intercept communications including internet activity, all under the mantra of anti-terrorism and crime prevention, however, as most of these laws are, it is frequently miss used by authorities.
In fact in two thousand and nine, it was revealed that RIPA was being used by British councils to intrude on the public almost thirty times every single day. Figures released in 2012 revealed that it had been used over three-million times to invade our privacy, and we can only wonder on what scale it has been used in the years since then.
Even just last week it hit the headlines that London Met Police abused RIPA by spying on The Sun Newspaper in an attempt to track down three officers who leaked information about the Plebgate scandal.
The action has already been condemned by a wide range of groups including Liberty, the National Union of Journalists, the Society of Editors and Index on Censorship.
The Operation Alice report revealed last week that the Met had secretly obtained mobile phone records of Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn and of calls made to The Sun newdesk.
Writing in the tabloid, Mick Hume said:
“A free society is protected by the ability of the Press to hold the authorities to account in public.
“That’s why secret-hoarding control-freaks and little Hitlers want to limit it. And confidential sources are the secret of every big dirtdigging story.”
I have to admit, I never thought I would agree with anything written in the Sun, but there you go.
Writing in the Independent Ian Burrell:
“This action has significant implications for investigative journalism as whistleblowers realise that media assurances that their identity will be kept secret can be compromised by a simple police procedure which does not even require the authorisation of a judge – a nod from a superintendent makes the seizure of data under Ripa perfectly legal.
“In this instance, there was no question of terrorism, just the embarrassment of police officers going to a newspaper over the “Plebgate” comments said to have been made by the MP Andrew Mitchell at the entrance to Downing Street in 2012.”
Now, interestingly, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is filing a challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against state intelligence services intercepting the emails of journalists and could lead to a ruling that RIPA contra-venes the right to free express under the European Convention on Human Rights because it undermines the con-fid-ent-iality of journalists’ sources.
Look, journalists need to protect their sources – this should not be up for debate. The con-fid-ent-iality of sources is protected under international law. No authority or court of law, can force a journalist to reveal the identity of a source.
The fact that elements of the British establishment illegally hack and monitor journalists to obtain information is a violation of the very principles of a free press. However, in the United States journalists have been jailed for refusing to name sources. In 2005 New York Times journalist Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to name her CIA source.
It’s apparent that although journalists are currently protected more in Britain than in the United States, authorities frequently consider themselves above the law and all too often take measures into their own hands, making a mockery of struggle the free press has endured over the centuries and still continues to endure today, as the establishment desperately seeks to control every aspect of the media.
Well that’s all from me for today, I’m Mick Meaney reporting for RINF alternative news, thank you for joining me and I will see you next time.