Leading article

David Cameron has a very strange idea of freedom

His proposal to ban encrypted web traffic, on the back of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, is a grimly predictable piece of statism

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

Last Sunday, David Cameron marched through Paris in solidarity, so it seemed, with those who stand up for free speech. Anyone who thought he meant it must now be crying out, ‘Je suis un right Charlie!’ Hardly had the march finished than the Prime Minister had rediscovered his other side: the one which reacts to terror by threatening yet more surveillance, more state control. He has promised to revive, in the Conservative manifesto, the ‘-snooper’s charter’ which would allow the state to retain indefinitely information about every email we ever send, every telephone call we ever make.

Not only that. He added a further measure: he wants to ban all kinds of encrypted communications which the security forces struggle to decipher. ‘I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the Home Secretary, to be listened to,’ he said. The implication is that Britain could end up joining the group of countries, which includes Russia, China and Iran, where using services such as Snapchat and WhatsApp — which encrypt messages in just the way David Cameron suggests — is forbidden.

The routine has become tediously familiar, going back at least to Tony Blair’s proposal for 90 days’ detention without trial: government responds to terror attack by saying we will not be cowed, freedom will endure, or words to that effect — and then within days resolves to exploit public fear by forcing through illiberal measures. New powers are taken by the government in the name of national security — and end up being used by police to spy on journalists, or by Poole council to spy on parents whom they suspect of living outside a school catchment area.

Horrific though the French attacks were, they have changed nothing fundamental. We continue to face, as we knew we did before, a serious threat from Islamist terrorism. Security services are quite properly employed to identify and monitor suspects who may be plotting attacks. But in the Paris case, as in the Woolwich attack and the London tube bombings, there was nothing to prevent security services watching the suspects — as indeed they did until, by grave mistake as it turned out, they chose to stop in the belief that others were more dangerous. The security services already have powers to intercept any communication.


If anything, the trend in terrorism is towards more lone-wolf attacks. It is far from clear how they can be countered, but one thing is for sure: it is not through surveillance. Unless in the habit of talking to themselves, lone wolves have not much need to communicate their plans.

Why, then, Cameron’s obsession with collecting yet more communications data? It is a sign of a lack of confidence as a leader that he has resorted to a knee-jerk response. He feels the need to react in some way, for fear that the public will think that he is not in charge. And of course prime ministers are constantly assailed by civil servants, security chiefs, chief constables and the like, who demand more powers to make their lives easier. The taxman, especially, would love the chance to go through people’s emails.

A prime minister more sure of himself might, when approached by security forces complaining that it was too hard to decipher an encrypted WhatsApp message, tell them he is not going to inconvenience the public — who have good reason, given the shysters and criminals lurking on the internet, to encrypt their personal communications — and suggest they hire a latterday Alan Turing instead. It may annoy the police that technology is changing faster than their ability to hack into it, but is 21st-century Britain really going to ban technological advances?

In the past week, we have heard much about how free speech is a sacred pillar of an open society. In truth, our freedoms are being steadily eroded. The Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to write or say anything which is deemed to cause ‘alarm or distress’ to another person, has allowed police to enact a de facto blasphemy law, as well as making criminals out of harmless people who refuse to accept the orthodoxy on gay rights, feminism and many other things.

MPs who claim to support the right to free speech should be invited to carry ‘I am Harry’ banners in memory of Harry Hammond, a street preacher convicted under the Public Order Act for carrying a banner in Bournemouth saying: ‘Stop immorality. Stop homosexuality. Jesus is Lord.’ He was fined £300 and ordered to pay £395 costs, and died soon afterwards.

If David Cameron wants there to be a legacy from the tremendous welling up of public support for the murdered French journalists, he will review the various ways in which British laws restrict our right to say what we want. He could start by taking up the suggestion by the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, that a British Bill of Rights — something the Conservatives promised before the last election — should enshrine press freedom. Extend it into a commitment to free speech as strong as America’s First Amendment and David Cameron really could earn the honour of being a champion of freedom.

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Show comments
  • Rik

    We are already drowning in laws indeed so much so that as Spiked pointed out Charlie could never have been published in the UK.
    What we do not have is equal application of the EXISTING laws.Choudary is free to bluster and threaten “war” and “repercussions”Hamza for years was given a police escort to spout his vile bile.
    In contrast Paul Weston was arrested in seconds for quoting W Churchill.
    The cornerstone of our society used to be equal justice for all under the law.
    The ample evidence that this is no longer the case from Islamic hate speech to the Rotherham affair gives rise to great anger and division.

    • Mister Rible

      Britain is a muslim country, have you not noticed?

  • “Not only that. He added a further measure: he wants to ban all kinds of encrypted communications which the security forces struggle to decipher.”

    Cameron’s Marxist strategy entails “pressure from below” (the security services mounting the false flag operation), which is met by “pressure from above”, where the Marxist establishment “safeguard” our liberties by destroying our liberties. Marxists call this strategy the “scissors strategy”, in which the blades represent the two falsely opposed sides that converge on the confused victims…

    Scissors Strategy…

    ‘The dialectic often appears under other names. A December 30, 1961 report by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, entitled “The New Role of National Legislative Bodies in the Communist Conspiracy,” contained two crucial chapters from a book smuggled out of Czechoslovakia. Written by an official of that country’s Communist Party, the book described the dialectical method used to seize power in Czechoslovakia. Communists infiltrated key positions in the Czechoslovak government, while simultaneously organizing street demonstrations against that government. Those two arms of the dialectic, by pretending to fight each other, generated enough confusion among the general public that all genuine opposition was neutralized. The book used the terms coined by V.I. Lenin, first dictator of the Soviet Union, referring to thesis and antithesis as “pressure from above” and “pressure from below.”

    The Soviet KGB uses its own set of code words to refer to the dialectical strategy. According to former KGB staff officer Anatoliy Golitsyn, the official term for the dialectic is the “scissors strategy,” in which the blades represent the two falsely opposed sides that converge on the confused victims. Golitsyn, who is probably the most important Soviet ever to defect to the West, escaped in 1961. After more than two decades of trying to warn uninterested American leaders, he wrote the 1984 book New Lies for Old as a warning to the general public, exposing the role of the scissors strategy in global events.

    Golitsyn revealed that the Communist bloc had adopted a coordinated long-term strategy beginning in the late 1950s, created in part by Golitsyn himself, the purpose being to convince the West that international Communism was disintegrating. Phony dissidents, factions, and power struggles within Communist parties, splits or wars between Communist nations, and temporary freedoms within each country have become dialectical tools of deception, allowing people in the West to take sides in these controlled struggles and thereby succumb to the strategy. Golitsyn argued that the dialectic has succeeded because imaginary factions or splits among Communist rulers are perceived as real by the West.’

    http://www.attacreport.com/ar_archives/art_na_china.htm

    In the case of the Charlie Hebdo offices, only two unarmed police (on bicycles no less) are sent to a massacre in progress. When the “terrorists” exit the office building ten minutes later, there’s still no armed police, just the unarmed police. Then after a one-sided shootout between the “terrorists” and the unarmed police, which leaves one police officer dead (though there’s no blood on the ground from the multiple AK-47 bullets that hit the police officer!), the terrorists leave the area in a car, zooming off at 5mph! Now, by this time it’s been nearly 15 minutes that’s elapsed, yet (1) still no armed police have shown up; and (2) the area hasn’t been cordoned off by the police.

    False flag operations need the absence of standard operating procedures if they are going to work, which explains the obvious anomalies above.

    Ladies & gentlemen, you really need to pay more attention to the news, so that you can know when you are being played.

    The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions.

    The so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

  • JP56

    Three brief responses…
    1. It’s not a shortage of data that is preventing better detection of terrorists by the intelligence services; it’s the lack of resources to analyse the data. So, asking for more powers and more intrusion is not on, asking for more resources is a legitimate request. Not a given, but legit.
    2. Hands up if you’d be willing to carry on transacting legitimate business (banking, online shopping, running a multinational company to suggest just three examples) if you knew that the keys to your encrypted communication had been handed over to (any) government. How long d’ya think before criminals got hold of them?
    3. Giving up our freedoms in this way is JUST what the lunatics who bomb, terrorise and kill want us to do. They don’t give two hoots about us, or even about this temporal existence. Why should they, with 72 virgins just waiting to receive them.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    Get your target right.

    This is NOTHING to do with Cameron. He has not the slightest interest in encryption. This is an internal policy by the people who are REALLY in power – the Civil Service. Just like the Identity Card, this is an internal Home Office desire, and it gets voiced on all suitable occasions.

    Cameron (and May) are just the fall guys here – the ones who have to read the speeches and take the flak. Do you honestly think that if Milliband or Clegg were in charge, they would not be reading precisely the same words…?

    • “This is an internal policy by the people who are REALLY in power…”

      Marxists, as proven by the following coverup…

      Take a look at what the Russian government ordered the Russian Ministry of Defense to keep on the masthead of its official newspaper…see if you notice something odd…

      http://www.redstar.ru/

      “Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian for “Red Star”, the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper’s official designation is, “Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense.” Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era caption titled “Red Star”(!), one of the Soviet emblems including the image of Lenin! Those four Soviet emblems represent the four “awards” the newspaper earned!

    • justsomeone

      And the Ministers have a duty to the public, to resist the machine, which is the civil service.

  • perdix

    When you are killed by a terrorist you have no civil rights.

    • Simon Fay

      You are Chairman Mao and I claim my five grains of rice.

  • NorthernFirst

    Or how about Harry Taylor given an asbo, banning him from carrying religiously offensive material in a public place, sentenced to six months in jail suspended for two years, ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work and £250 costs.

    And the worst thing is a JURY convicted him. Frightening really given all he did was evangelise atheism and leave some cartoons ridiculing religion lying around.

    • Aberrant_Apostrophe

      That example illustrates the fact that free speech often comes at a price.

      • NorthernFirst

        That example illustrates that we do not have free speech. His cartoons did no harm to anyone.

  • pobinr

    Tragically over the last 45 years we’ve been taken by the LibLabConmen from being Great Britain to become a mere province of the EUssr subject to the whims of ECHR judges and unelected EUrocrats.
    Cameron has no leadership qualities. His strings are pulled by Merkel, lobbyists and party donors.
    The UK is in effect a headless chicken.

  • Peter Stroud

    Surely we really did not need the Public Order Act. We had ‘behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace’ since, God knows when. This government is no better than the many previous ones, who spent time making new laws, instead of enforcing old ones. It’s called ‘showing everyone we are doing something’.

    • black11hawk

      One the most egregious things about it is that it is so open to interpretation. I asked a policeman I know a while back “is it really illegal to swear in public?” He informed me that it depended on whether somebody took offence to the word. This is highly immoral since it negates the principle of equality before the law, it essentially turns the person taking offence into judge and jury over the person making the allegedly offensive remark.

      This argument ought to be obvious to any sane, thinking person, but since it requires a degree of thought on the subject and since there are so many special interest groups clamouring to have their particular group given some kind of elevated status, it is extremely difficult to defend.

  • John Croston

    In Cameron’s Britain a man was arrested and convicted of using “hate speech” when he tweeted that the government’s immigration policy appeared to be “whites out, darkies in.” His Home Secretary banned a protest march after Lee Rigby was killed and also banned Robert Spence and Pamela Gellar from coming to Britain because they would have told the truth about Islam and thereby upset the Muslim colonists.

    And he has the cheek to trot off to demonstrate for freedom of speech in Paris.

  • Oddsbods

    Mr,Cameron did not march through Paris, neither did any of the other leaders, they had their own private walk in a cordonned off side street. ORF (Austrian TV) showed how it was done, all of the leaders at the front and 200 or 300 people (probably all security and aides) following in a wedge behind. The video of that was shown in conjunction with the real march to suggest participation.

  • Surely, if you ban the open use of cryptographic protocols, then surely those who wish to evade detection will employ steganographic techniques to hide their communications..

  • JohnCrichton89

    The UK is estimated to have a Muslim majority by 2050, we are sure to see these laws and this surveillance turned against us. Well, more than it already is.
    With the slightest of creativity when interpreting all these new ‘hate speech’ laws, coupled with all this surveillance being brought in, I can picture an Islamic political police really going to town enforcing Sharia blasphemy laws and hunting down ‘offenders’ off many a nature as soon as they hold the relevant positions in government.
    Probably beginning with their political opponents.
    When it happens, I pray to be long gone and have an ‘out’ for my family to some other country.

  • Terry Field

    And there, with the exception of Obama, are the leaders of the western World.
    GOD HELP US (MERKEL EXCEPTED)

  • In the case of the Charlie Hebdo offices, only two unarmed police (on bicycles no less) are sent to a massacre in progress. When the “terrorists” exit the office building ten minutes later, there’s still no armed police, just the unarmed police. Then after a one-sided shootout between the “terrorists” and the unarmed police, which leaves one police officer dead (though there’s no blood on the ground from the multiple AK-47 bullets that hit the police officer!), the terrorists leave the area in a car, zooming off at 5mph! Now, by this time it’s been nearly 15 minutes that’s elapsed, yet (1) still no armed police have shown up; and (2) the area hasn’t been cordoned off by the police.

    False flag operations need the absence of standard operating procedures if they are going to work, which explains the obvious anomalies above.

    Ladies & gentlemen, you really need to pay more attention to the news, so that you can know when you are being played.

    By the way, one of the “terrorists” slips up as he follows his comrade back to the car, instinctively cradling his weapon as he was instructed to in the French military…

    Fast forward to 0:17 seconds in first video provided…

    http://www.thedailysheeple.com/watch-no-recoil-no-blood-no-body-movement-slow-motion-footage-of-paris-officer-being-shotdisturbing-images_012015

    now compare to how a French soldier cradles his weapon…

    https://www.google.com/search?q=french+military+handling+weapons+pictures&es_sm=93&biw=1440&bih=809&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=BQK7VMK1G8yVNszbgugP&ved=0CB0QsAQ#imgdii=_&imgrc=1yDItkVPvNPnCM%253A%3BFweA9WALhBRy7M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fabload.de%252Fimg%252Fcar1896dye2.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.militaryphotos.net%252Fforums%252Fshowthread.php%253F233143-Operation-Sangaris-French-intervention-in-Central-Africa%252Fpage10%3B1024%3B679

    In the video below, the two “terrorists” are in no rush to get away because they know their getaway has been arranged, including by the police car that does finally show up, but allows the “terrorists” to leave the scene, actually backing up to give the “terrorists” the right of way(!)…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQNzJnvfKU

    …and add insult to injury by failing to pursue the “terrorists”! What moron wrote this script?

    See my comments below that explain the purpose for these anti-Muslim/anti-Semitic false flag operations…

    • Perseus Slade

      Were you there?

      • “Were you there?”

        Strange question for the presentation of a false flag operation? I wasn’t there, and how does my answer one way or the other pertain to my comment?

        • Perseus Slade

          Seems you have some inside information,
          are you in the French Police?

          What this got to do with anyone being a Marxist?

          • “Seems you have some inside information,
            are you in the French Police?”

            Did you watch the video below…

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQNzJnvfKU

            The police allowed the “terrorists” to flee the scene. Where’s the investigation into police complicity with the “terrorists”?

    • justsomeone

      Get some help!

      • “Get some help!”

        From the police? They’ll just run away when assistance is needed, as we all witnessed in the following video…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQNzJnvfKU

        Why aren’t you demanding an investigation into Paris police complicity with the “terrorists”?

        • justsomeone

          I mean go get therapy. I’m serious. It’ll do you good.

  • HookesLaw

    Its pretty pathetic to say that the security services left the actual terrorists alone because they ‘thought’ others were more dangerous but then complain about measures that would enable them to make a better judgement.

    Its pretty absurd to think that anyone who is living a normal legal life would even want to use encryption of the scale being questioned. Its also pretty absurd to pretend that the security services would when they are clearly spo hard pressed would waste time on people suspected of nothing compared to suspected terrorists.

    • “Its pretty pathetic to say that the security services left the actual terrorists alone because they ‘thought’ others were more dangerous…”

      Since the “terrorists” are the security services, there is no danger.

    • justsomeone

      Oh you’d be amazed what the police have time for. Just recently the police in Scotland warned everyone that they’re checking everything we say online in case it constitutes hate-speech.
      As to your example, given that they new these murderers are deeply involved in Islamic extremism, they shouldn’t have needed these new powers to stop them. Besides, if someone known to be an Islamic extremist communicates with heavy encryption, then that tells you even more, and all that without making it illegal to encrypt communication. Your example is silly.
      The simple fact is that there are so damn many crazy Muslim extremists they actually know about and since they’re all dangerous, the police don’t know what to do without solid evidence of an impending terror attack and locking them up for 3 years for ‘recruitment’ or for ‘using banned encryption methods’ won’t do the trick because when they’re out they can kill people and join up with others who were locked up. They don’t even need to email each other.

  • Simon Fay

    “David Cameron has a very strange idea of freedom”

    In its apparent strangeness it’s not so different perhaps from the ideas of democracy held by head honchoes of various states with the word “Democratic” in their name.

  • Perseus Slade

    The people we are forced to pay to “protect” us
    are selling us out and paying off our enemies.

    Democratic reform needed.

  • justsomeone

    First that hideous Theresa May with her surveillance proposals, which she’s already made clear will not be limited to fighting terrorism. Now this bloody proposal by Cameron. An end to privacy. We can’t accept it and we won’t put up with it!
    What they should do is stop saying it’s all got nothing to do with Islam. Then they can tackle the religious ideology. If they won’t do that, then killing our right to privacy won’t achieve anything anyway.
    Really hope UKIP will not back Cameron on this!

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