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David Cameron Says Fictional Crime Proves Why Snooper's Charter Is Necessary 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-all-the-wisdom-of-a-politician dept.
An anonymous reader sends this story from TechDirt: "You may recall the stories from the past couple years about the so-called 'snooper's charter' in the UK — a system to further legalize the government's ability to spy on pretty much all communications. It was setting up basically a total surveillance system, even beyond what we've since learned is already being done today. Thankfully, that plan was killed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. However, Prime Minister David Cameron is back to pushing for the snooper's charter — and his reasoning is as stupid as it is unbelievable. Apparently, he thinks it's necessary because the fictional crime dramas he watches on TV show why it's necessary. Cameron said, 'I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There's hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device. What we have to explain to people is that... if we don't modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe.'"
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David Cameron Says Fictional Crime Proves Why Snooper's Charter Is Necessary

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  • by ganjadude (952775) <pmalloy4391.gmail@com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @03:54PM (#46129697) Homepage
    Its the same reason that we should be increasing our ability to hunt down hobbits. If they get control of that ring again it could be the end for us all!
    • Its the same reason that we should be increasing our ability to hunt down hobbits. If they get control of that ring again it could be the end for us all!

      Don't you know anything, the ring was melted down to nothing in the fires of Mt. Doom. It's no longer a threat.

      It's magic, ESP powers, aliens, Time Lords, Daleks, and robots that we need to defend against according to such reliable TV and movie series as "A Certain Magical Index", "Warehouse 13", "Aliens" 1 through 4, "Dr. Who", etc.

      After all, how can we puny humans stand up to an alien with magic and ESP powers that can travel through time without having the ability to snoop on their communications?

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Don't you know anything, the ring was melted down to nothing in the fires of Mt. Doom. It's no longer a threat.

        Then how come the Lidless Eye [ltmuseum.co.uk] is still open?

    • by billstewart (78916) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:40PM (#46130851) Journal

      The Feds really did have to raid Steve Jackson Games [wikipedia.org], because otherwise dangerous computer hackers might use their site to learn dangerous hacking techniques, like "Roll 3d6. If you get better than 15, your probe breaks through the firewall undetected!".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        after reading the actual game manual itself, I think the Secret Service (not FBI) went ballistic over the detailed descriptions of phreak boxes. There was enough info there for someone who didn't know such devices existed to be "hey wait, this is a real thing..." and try to build one. There was also enough info to tell people where to look for said plans on bulletin boards, and how the tech behind it all worked.

        From our viewpoint it's just ridiculous. However, from a conspiracy-crazy early 90's law enf
  • Idiocy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MajikJon (661494) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @03:55PM (#46129699)
    By that logic, the best way to prevent 9/11 would have been to cover up the small thermal exhaust port on the World Trade Center that led directly to the main reactor.
  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:04PM (#46129751) Journal

    Warp drive. Lawyers with a conscience. Guns which never need reloading. And magic infinite photo enhancement. When do we get those, huh?

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:10PM (#46129787)

      Oh, please, I know this thread is about science fiction and unrealistic drama, but lawyers with conscience... the rest I could see, but that really pushes the envelope.

      • I know it was a joke. But lets not forget that there are lawyers who work pro-bono on various human-rights and other good cause cases.

        So there are lawyers with consciences. It's just that the money grubbing bastard lawyers tend to make the news more often.

      • by dryeo (100693)

        Well most lawyers will agree that a corporate lawyer is so low life that they don't want anything to do with them so the average lawyer does have some morals.
        As an aside, we had a corporate lawyer running the country for a while. He's the one that started the whole out sourcing thing going.with NAFTA. Destroyed his party and it has only recently came back, now with an economist in charge. Stupid idiot really believes that mono-culture is for the best.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      Guns that never need firing would be infinitely better
      • Weapon Shop guns. They'll only fire in self-defense.

        From "Weapon Shops of Isher", if it's not clear.

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          Weapon Shop guns. They'll only fire in self-defense.

          Dunno...I think I'd rather have a Lazy Gun myself.
          If nothing else, they're much more amusing to see in action.

    • First we need to legalize the police creating GUI interfaces in Visual Basic in order to track IP addresses.

    • In one of the very few detective shows I enjoyed, rideable spider robots with wheeled feet and childish AI personalities were *absolutely essential* to effective crimefighting.

      There's another one which I sincerely hope David Cameron never sees involving "crime coefficients."

  • Of course, the stories I'm following are the ones that picture totalitarian governments. We should therefore pass laws barring any government agency (there than very local law enforcement) from having any powers.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      of course, you've just used things you saw on TV to advocate what laws the government should pass..... and you didn't see any resemblance to Cameron doing exactly the same thing?

      I blame modern education that eschews classical teaching in favour of shiny technology :-(

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        of course, you've just used things you saw on TV to advocate what laws the government should pass..... and you didn't see any resemblance to Cameron doing exactly the same thing?

        I blame modern education that eschews classical teaching in favour of shiny technology :-(

        What do you blame for missing that he obviously did that on purpose? Subject line was kind of a big hint there.

  • The bigger problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:05PM (#46129759)
    ... is that a large number of the couch potatos in the country will nod quietly and agree with him.

    We already know that things which happen in soap operas come to pass, in real life - as programmes like those set the agenda for what "ordinary people" assume is socially acceptable: both for their own behaviour and that of others. Those programmes (and cop shows, too) also tell people what is an acceptable reaction to given situations.

    Some (non-viewers) might say that these are fictional drama and therefore should be treated as non-real and non-realistic, but just check out TV forums and see how many posters refer to actors by their characters' names. For a lot of people, TV is real-life: just as Google IS the internet as far asa they're concerned.

    • Next, the British government might as well start dressing up its agents like Batman, since TV shows seem to prove that it lowers the crime rate.
    • It's the same as the affect of 'CSI' on civilian expectations of police work.

    • but just check out TV forums and see how many posters refer to actors by their characters' names. For a lot of people, TV is real-life

      That might be a bit of a leap there.

      When I read a novel, I say/think $CHARACTER did something, even though I know that they don't exist, and I find I do the same in all sorts of entertainment, television included. Also, the names of the characters are a great way to refer to the person without having to memorise their names, or expect others to do so as well.

      In fact, come to

  • He should watch more of the shows where a halfway decent hacker and a computer can sniff out any kind of information, whether it's somewhere on the internet or not, even if it's hidden on a standalone computer in some godforsaken place of the marble we're on, a truly good hacker can dig it up.

    So what does he need those laws for? He should hire a few more of those wonderful hackers.

    Given the right price, I'm for hire, btw...

    • I thought you were going on about the pointlessness of destroying The Guardian's computers and hard drives regarding the Snowden documents. That is, any hacker can find those documents so why would you bother destroying The Guardian's hardware?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cameron notices his butler has a tv and spends time watching it, realises this could be a way to communicate with the proles "on their level"

  • Ok, Mr (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:12PM (#46129811) Homepage

    Your TV prviledges are revoked, go to your room!

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:13PM (#46129825)

    It seems to me, from the British TV I watch, that the UK is clearly in need of a Time Lord's Charter, authorizing the use of the Tardis and associated technology in solving existential threats to the Earth.

  • I'm sorry, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:22PM (#46129861)
    When did "keeping us safe" become the primary function of government? Oh, that's right, George Bush and John Ashcroft used that as an excuse to make us live in a police state right after 9/11. Now it has spread to the whole democratic West. Good thing the terrorists didn't win.
    • by davecb (6526)

      One of the first tasks of a government to to prohibit private wars and vendettas, called "preserving the King's peace". From there, you get a slippery slope that honest governments admit exists, and used to work hard to stay away from. Not so much lately!

      If you've read Asimov's later "Robots" stories, you can see his re-raising the question, and asking how it applies to a new technology.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Actually "keeping us safe" goes all the way back to the begining. We had to take the native americans land to keep us safe from the "savages"

      We had to get involved in a war 1/2 way across the world to keep us safe from the nazis. and in the next 40 years we had to keep us safe from the evil communists.

      I know everyone loves to bash bush, myself included. but if you honestly think that the government only started "keeping us safe" after 9/11 you need to open a book.
      • No. I ascribe "keeping us safe" (in an open-ended woolly-thinking sort of a way) to George Bush in exactly the same way that I ascribe "make the world safe for democracy" to Woodrow Wilson. Each of them (OK, Bush's speech writers) knew EXACTLY where the course of their actions would take us.
      • There's "keeping the nation safe from a foreign invasion," and then there's "keeping individuals safe from an individual or small group of wackjobs."
        The first is the job of the government. The second one isn't. They're trying to conflate the two, and take over the second, as well as the first.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Wait, blaming Bush, Ashcroft, (and presumably Cheney) for the actions of the UK government?

    • When did "keeping us safe" become the primary function of government?

      I'm not sure. When did we invent the military?

    • When did "keeping us safe" become the primary function of government? Oh, that's right, George Bush and John Ashcroft used that as an excuse to make us live in a police state right after 9/11. Now it has spread to the whole democratic West. Good thing the terrorists didn't win.

      I'll just keep saying this and you all can just keep modding me down: for more than half a decade one Barack H Obama has been 100% in charge of the federal "security" apparatus.

      As long as you keep pretending that isn't true, this is all just useless bellyaching.

  • Im convinced that if people in congress or this administration (or any administration in the past 20 years actually) tried to use this same argument, the polls would show over 1/2 of the us here in the USA would also be all for it
  • who says that tv shows and movies are heavily not influenced by government agencies doings or their manipulation? You get full circle, we need to defend from what we are actually doing, or need to defend to the boogeyman we just put in front of you. And you will be convinced because you just saw it on tv. Never seen such political way to say "you are all retards and i will take advantage of that".
  • 1984 was fiction too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c0d3g33k (102699) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:26PM (#46129881)

    Not to defend him by any means, but in this instance his statement is no more stupid than invoking 1984 or other dystopian works of fiction as the reason the Snooper's Charter is to be avoided. Fiction they may be, but these works portray possibilities that inform how things might turn out in reality given a course of action, even if the actual outcome resembles the fictional scenario only in kind, not in actual detail. The ability to gain insight into ourselves is one of the many reasons we find works of art valuable in the first place. The key is not to confuse fiction with reality which admittedly many do.

    • It actually is stupid. His logic apparently suggests that all it takes for criminals to succeed in their endeavours is to not use mobile communication devices (because without them, the authorities are screwed!). So the outcome would be that everyone would get snooped except for the criminals who won't get caught.
      • by plover (150551)

        It actually is stupid. His logic apparently suggests that all it takes for criminals to succeed in their endeavours is to not use mobile communication devices (because without them, the authorities are screwed!). So the outcome would be that everyone would get snooped except for the criminals who won't get caught.

        That's not stupid at all, because it's absolutely true. If you leave all your RF behind, wear a ghillie suit or CV dazzle makeup, or at least a cap with camera-blinding IR LEDs pointed out from around the brim, and use a vehicle not-your-own for travel, you'll be highly successful. However, most thieves are not that smart, and won't leave their phones behind. So they get caught.

    • Firstly, Cameron didn't say it was necessary. He merely used that example to illustrate what he was saying.

      Cameron's first act as PM was to repeal Labour's ID Cards Act (which was compulsory fingerprinting, numbering and recording on a national database to hook up all govt databases) and destroy the hard disks Guardian-style. Maybe this is where he got the idea.

      He also attended the inception meeting of NO2ID, the immensely successful campaign that Labour's Home Minister Secretary at the time, David Blunke

    • The key is not to confuse fiction with reality which admittedly many do.

      And that is precisely the problem TFA highlights. Cameron confuses fiction with reality. To prevent prime ministers from acting on incorrect assumptions and faulty logic, it makes sense to oppose them doing things which lead them into confusing fiction with reality, such as watching cop dramas and discussing them publicly as justifications for draconian spying powers.

      In other words, he deserves the crap he gets for allowing TV dr

  • "...over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe."

    Ahh, yes, the spectre of bad things that could happen in the future. We can't show any actual evidence of the value of these kinds of programs right now, because it is fictional, but think of what might happen tomorrow! As Wimpy would say, "I will gladly protect you Tuesday for your liberty today."

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:38PM (#46129937) Journal

    Let's face it, 90% of people are fucking stupid, and believe everything they see on TV, including "crime dramas" where unbelievable feats of forensic science are achieved in every episode. People eat this shit up, and most of this stupid underclass believes it is necessary to prevent or solve crimes.

    This is why the revelations that these ubiquitous, omniscient surveillance systems exists generated nothing more than enthusiastic yawns among the populace.

    People... just... don't... care...

    Honestly, the people who do care, even being as vocal as they can be, make an almost imperceptible noise against the drums of big tyrannical government - like an annoying mosquito in the ear of the underinformed, low-information majority who just wants to know when the next episode of the Kardashians or Property Brothers or CSI or other mindless drivel will be on.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:40PM (#46129961) Homepage

    keeping people safe.

    This is the big problem. You can't keep people safe and there's on need to strive to do so to the absolute. You can keep them safer, and the trick is to strike the right balance between their security and their freedom.

    If only there was some apposite quote from an elder statesmen of a bygone age...

  • What Britain really needs is a real Sherlock Holmes. He can only invade your privacy if you're within his sight.

  • In other news, the UK PM Sir Mortimer Chris (played by David Cameron) said:
    "It's all because of the invisible leprechauns. It's true, because I saw it in a film [wikipedia.org]. We have to be much tougher on everything and everybody in order to eradicate this terrible pest. The Snooper's Charter is just the beginning; I'm now working on the draft Wear Your Underpants On The Outside For Hygiene Law (WYUOTOFH law).

    Most of my cabinet ministers have agreed with me, and those who haven't (because the leprechauns subverted t
  • we need to triple funding for creating GUI interfaces in Visual Basic! Hurry!!!

  • He could bring David Cameron's administration down with two words... Ok, not two. Six.

    "Don't you think he looks tired?"

    Worked for Harriet Jones.

  • I think he's wrong and his policies are misguided. But it doesn't look to me like he said the fictional stories proved that these methods were useful, just that they illustrated how they were useful.

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