By Alistair Farrow
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2548

Snoopers demand more monitoring powers

This article is over 4 years, 9 months old
Issue 2548
Armed cops in Bradford last week

Armed cops in Bradford last week (Pic: Neil Terry)

Tory home secretary Amber Rudd is on the warpath following Khalid Masood’s attack on parliament last week which left five people dead.

Rudd wants to give police the power to access encrypted messaging apps like Whatsapp and Signal.

She was set to meet with technology firm bosses to discuss this on Thursday.

Former Met police commissioner Ian Blair made the same demand last Saturday and prime minister Theresa May echoed the call on Monday.

A section of the British establishment has decided it wants to use last Wednesday’s attack to gain greater powers to monitor online activity.

It’s common for the state to push for greater powers for cops and security forces after terrorist attacks.

But there is a wider racist context in how the state responds to different attacks.

There were no calls for a crackdown after fascist Thomas Mair murdered MP Jo Cox last year.


The two main ways around encryption are to hack people’s phones—as Wikileaks revealed this month, the CIA can—or to ban end-to-end encryption altogether.

If technology firms engineered a way around the encryption then it opens the door to every hacker, not just those employed by the state.

But attacks on privacy will be used disproportionately against Muslims, trade unionists and the left.

Similarly, attacks on civil liberties were used in the 1970s against Irish people in the wake of bombings by the IRA.

The Islamophobic Prevent strategy is set to have its scope increased dramatically as part of the government’s Contest counter-terrorism strategy.

And May said last year that Prevent should be “strengthened, not undermined”.

Prevent and the mechanism which deems whether individuals are vulnerable to extremism, Channel, disproportionately target Muslims.


Yet a report last year warned that the threat from right wing extremists is being ignored. It identified 124 “lone actors” in Europe across a 15-year period.

Some 33 percent were right wing extremists, while 38 percent were “religiously motivated”.

The “softer” racism of May gives oxygen to hard racists.

“The point is that we do have radicalisation going on inside our country,” said Ukip’s Nigel Farage.

“Some of it is going on in state-run schools and state-run prisons, and that is something I think we really could deal with.”

And in the wake of these come the fascists. Both Britain First and the EDL have called marches on Saturday.

Unite Against Fascism has called a counter-protest on Saturday to stop the fascists trying to capitalise on the Tories’ attempts to ramp up racism.

Don’t let the racists divide us—no to fascist Britain First! Join the protest Sat 1 Apr, 12 noon, Trafalgar Square, central London

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance