Privacy campaigners are frantically trying to brief MPs about the implications of the data retention and investigatory powers bill (Drip), before it is forced through all of its Commons stages tomorrow.
The more experts look at the bill, the more convinced they’ve become that it provides authorities with the spine of the snoopers’ charter, but without any of the public debate or parliamentary scrutiny which were supposed to accompany it.
The charter – known as the draft communications bill before it was killed off – would have forced internet service providers and mobile operators to keep details of their customers’ behaviour for 12 months.
Analysis of Drip, which was supposed to only extend the government’s current powers for another two years, suggests it forces through many of those requirements on internet firms without any of the political outrage which derailed the earlier effort.
Clause four of the bill appears to extend Ripa – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (basically Britain’s Patriot Act) – so that the UK government can impose severe penalties on companies overseas that refuse to comply with interception warrants. It also lays out situations in which they may be required to maintain permanent interception capacity.
Clause five then provides a new definition of “telecommunications service”, which includes companies offering internet-based services. That seems to drag services like Gmail and Hotmail into the law, and very probably social media sites like Facebook too.
The government insists the extraterritoriality clause merely makes explicit what was previously implicit. It’s tosh. As the explanatory notes for the legislation – released very quietly on Friday night – make clear, overseas telecommunications companies did not believe they were necessarily under Ripa’s jurisdiction.
“Regarding the amendments to Ripa, in view of the suggestion by overseas telecommunications service providers that the extra-territorial effect of Ripa is unclear, it is considered necessary to amend the legislation to put the issue beyond doubt,” it reads.
“This includes clarifying the definition of a ‘telecommunications service’ to ensure the full range of telecommunications services available to customers in the United Kingdom are included in the definition.”
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband insist Drip merely extends their current powers for two years. That’s nonsense. These two clauses, which have nothing to do with the purported aim of the bill, provide the spine of the snoopers’ charter.
They also appear to provide a legal basis for programmes like Tempora, the project revealed by Edward Snowden to allow GCHQ to tap into transatlantic fibre-optic cables and stored data.
Notably, Privacy International, Liberty and others are taking the government to a tribunal this week on whether Tempora is legal, even though the government won’t even admit its existence. Drip could make the tribunal ruling irrelevant.
Snowden himself issued a savage attack against Drip and the way it was introduced in a Guardian interview from Moscow.
“I mean the NSA could have written this draft,” he said. “They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us.”
“And yet suddenly we’re told there’s a brand new bill that looks like it was written by the National Security Agency that has to be passed in the same manner that a surveillance bill in the United States was passed in 2007, and it has to happen now.
“And we don’t have time to debate it, despite the fact that this was not a priority, this was not an issue that needed to be discussed at all, for an entire year. It defies belief.”
The explanatory notes show who is entitled to consultation and who is not.
“Due to the pressing nature of this legislation a limited process of consultation has been completed with those affected by the provisions, including the communications industry, and law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” it reads.
Who has not been consulted? Well, MPs for a start. They are being coerced into supporting this vague and dangerous bit of law without being able to scrutinise it.
“Given the need to ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to retain their capabilities, extending the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny is not possible in this instance,” it reads.
“Due to time constraints the home affairs select committee has not had an opportunity to scrutinise the legislation.”
And of course the other people not being consulted are those affected by the bill: the public. There has been no debate, no consultation, to pretence of due process. And the secret deal between Cameron , Miliband and Clegg means voters who object to this stitch-up have no way of registering their protest at the general election via the main parties.
The explanatory notes also makes it clear which direction we are travelling in. By 2016, that great big debate on the snoopers’ charter which Cameron is suddenly so keen on will take place. One does not need to guess the position the government – any government, run by any prime minister – will adopt.
“This bill does not enhance data retention powers, although it is envisaged that when communications data policy is considered in the next parliament, legislation conferring further powers may be proposed,” it reads.
The snoopers’ charter is being introduced in chunks. They lost the debate. Now they are smuggling it into law.
Drip will go through all of its Commons stages in one go tomorrow. It is a process which usually takes months.
daily alternative | alternative news – A snoopers’ charter by the backdoor: One day until Drip is forced through
Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly
A report from the Argentine doctors’ organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, challenges the theory that the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil is the cause of the increase in the birth defect microcephaly among newborns.
The increase in this birth defect, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and often has brain damage, was quickly linked to the Zika virus by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. However, according to the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, the Ministry failed to recognise that in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The Physicians added that the Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese “strategic partner” of Monsanto. Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects), according to the Physicians.
The Physicians commented: “Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.”
They also noted that Zika has traditionally been held to be a relatively benign disease that has never before been associated with birth defects, even in areas where it infects 75% of the population.
Since 2014, the insecticide Pyriproxyfen has been use to kill mosquitos in water tanks in Brazil
Larvicide the most likely culprit in birth defects
Pyriproxyfen is a relatively new introduction to the Brazilian environment; the microcephaly increase is a relatively new phenomenon. So the larvicide seems a plausible causative factor in microcephaly – far more so than GM mosquitoes, which some have blamed for the Zika epidemic and thus for the birth defects. There is no sound evidence to support the notion promoted by some sources that GM mosquitoes can cause Zika, which in turn can cause microcephaly. In fact, out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 (4.2%) tested positive for the Zika virus.
Brazilian health experts agree Pyriproxyfen is chief suspect
The Argentine Physicians’ report, which also addresses the Dengue fever epidemic in Brazil, concurs with the findings of a separate report on the Zika outbreak by the Brazilian doctors’ and public health researchers’ organisation, Abrasco.
Abrasco also names Pyriproxyfen as a likely cause of the microcephaly. It condemns the strategy of chemical control of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment as well as people and is not decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Abrasco suggests that this strategy is in fact driven by the commercial interests of the chemical industry, which it says is deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation.
Abrasco names the British GM insect company Oxitec as part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to suit its own profit-making agenda. Oxitec sells GM mosquitoes engineered for sterility and markets them as a disease-combatting product – a strategy condemned by the Argentine Physicians as “a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes”.
The poor suffer most
Both the Brazilian and Argentine doctors’ and researchers’ associations agree that poverty is a key neglected factor in the Zika epidemic. Abrasco condemned the Brazilian government for its “deliberate concealment” of economic and social causes: “In Argentina and across America the poorest populations with the least access to sanitation and safe water suffer most from the outbreak.” The Argentine Physicians agreed, stating, “The basis of the progress of the disease lies in inequality and poverty.”
Abrasco added that the disease is closely linked to environmental degradation: floods caused by logging and the massive use of herbicides on (GM) herbicide-tolerant soy crops – in short, “the impacts of extractive industries”.
The notion that environmental degradation may a factor in the spread of Zika finds backing in the view of Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist. Martins said that “the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis” is caused by “a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes”.
daily alternative | alternative news – Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly
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