Socialist Worker

Tories launch secret plans to stop your secret messages

Issue No. 2553

Whats up? Amber Rudd wants to read your Whatsapp

What's up? Amber Rudd wants to read your Whatsapp (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


The Tories don’t understand encryption so they are trying to get rid of it.

The government has secretly, obviously secretly, drawn up detailed plans for increased surveillance powers.

They include the authority to monitor anyone in real time and a ban on unbreakable encryption.

The draft legislation was leaked by the Open Rights Group. It would force internet, telephone and other communications companies to provide rolling access to the messages of any named person within one working day.

A large number of people could be subjected to simultaneous surveillance.

But it would be limited to one in every 10,000 of a service’s users, enabling about 6,500 individuals to be monitored.

It would need to be sanctioned by a secretary of state and a judge appointed by the prime minister.

Which isn’t really that reassuring.

The rules specifically cover encrypted content, which means that companies would no longer be able to offer true end-to-end encryption of users’ messages.

Amber Rudd, the home secretary, has made it clear that she would force technology and communications companies to co-operate proactively with the security services.

She was highly critical of WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, after it signalled that it would not remove end-to-end encryption to give MI5 access to messages.

A consultation on the draft rules is under way although this was not publicly announced.

Technical capability notices (TCNs) can be used to order companies with over 10,000 users to adapt their technology to enable intercept and metadata collection.

While this power already existed under the Investigatory Powers Act, the regulation provides much more detail about what companies could be compelled to do if they are served with a TCN. The Home Office has no legal obligation to notify the public about draft regulations.

But it would have been nice to get a text.

The paper indicates that the regulations have already been seen by the Technical Advisory Board, which comprises representatives of O2, BT, BSkyB, Cable and Wireless, Vodafone and Virgin Media.

But not Troublmaker.


  • Forget “strong and stable”, the Tories have made “nonsensical” their attack buzzword of the election, using it to bash Jeremy Corbyn 25 times on TV and in press releases over a fortnight. The first use was by Theresa May during one of those nonsensical bunkered hidden campaign visits to Bridgend where no one is let in.

  • The Sun’s understanding of Marx is impressive. “Revolutionary socialist Karl Marx wrote the economic tome in 1867 where he predicted the end of capitalism and called for the abolition of private property,” it wrote. “He made the remarks after Labour's disastrous results in local elections last week”.

Comment is free but front page copy costs

The Guardian gave front page treatment to Bill Gates’s intervention in the general election campaign.

He gave an interview to the paper warning of disastrous consequences if Theresa May abandoned an overseas aid pledge.

The story was seasoned with complimentary asides noting that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “has been one of the most persuasive advocates of the argument that aid works”.

The article failed to mention the aid the Gates Foundation gives to some of the neediest people at the Guardian.

Gates pays for the paper’s global development section.

The foundation’s 2015 tax return records a £5,686,494 grant awarded to Guardian News and Media Ltd in August 2011 of which £3,397,001 had been spent as of the 2015 return.


Tory wins seat but is thrown out of Masons

Congratulations are in order for senior Great Yarmouth councillor Ronald Hanton who was re-elected last week.

Disgracefully the former copper has been suspended from his local Masonic lodge after a hole was discovered in the accounts.

The lodge chair and treasurer were both permanently excluded in April. Vice-chair Hanton and the lodge’s secretary were each given a six-month suspension by a vote of members, for “failing in the discharge of the duties of their respective of?ces”. Forensic accountants found more than £16,000 missing from the Great Yarmouth Masonic Lodge bar accounts.

They concluded there had been a “misappropriation” of assets but warned that due to haphazard record-keeping and lack of proper systems for banking funds, it might not be possible to identify who was responsible.

This proved correct. Norfolk Constabulary concluded this year that there wasn’t enough evidence against any individual for a conviction.


Grim shady Tory raps

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith “rapped” Eminem lyrics on television in a jibe at Labour’s Diane Abbott.

Duncan Smith, the US rapper’s lyrics from “Lose Yourself” to mock the shadow home secretary.

During an appearance on Good Morning Britain the former minister broke into verse at presenter Piers Morgan’s prompting.

“He opens his mouth but the words don’t come out / He’s choking now / everybody’s joking now / and the clock’s run out”.

But from the same tune is, “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy / There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti / He’s nervous.”


Sun kills prince

News of a staff meeting at Buckingham Palace sent the media into a frenzy of rumour.

Not least the Sun who jumped the gun and wrongly reported that Prince Philip had died (above). Shame really.


Daily Mail forgets France

The French Presidency was won by Emmanuel Macron, who beat Front National Marine le Pen.

But the Sun and the Daily Mail steered clear of the news from France, instead leading on how Prince Harry has a girlfriend. And both had lead editorials on how evil John McDonnell is.

It was so different last month after Le Pen had secured her place in the run-off.

Then, the Mail devoted its front page to that news, proclaiming a “NEW FRENCH REVOLUTION”.

As the Daily Mail wouldn’t put it, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose—the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.


The things they say ...

‘Emmanuel spoke to me before he set up En Marche and kind of floated the idea by me’

Labour’s Chuka Umunna takes credit for the French election

‘I’m a bit squiffy’

Chuka Umunna on a Progressive Alliance

‘We’re not even allowed to show you her visiting the building’

Cornish journalist who was locked in a room during a Theresa May visit to St Ives

‘If May calls early election we hacks won’t be able to trust No 10’

Hack Isabel Oakeshott on Twitter just before Theresa May announced election

‘Sensational move by May sensational leadership’

Isabel Oakeshott just after May announced the election

Unrealistic to expect him to sound like some little virtue-signaling snowflake’

Tony Parsons explains his love of Prince Phillip’s “jokes”


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