Next Wednesday UK Prime Minister David Cameron will revive a counter-terrorism bill that was first suggested last March, but which never made it into legislation due to it being vetoed by the Liberal Democrats on the grounds of free speech. With the coalition government over, having won the election outright on this occasion the Conservative party will now have the opportunity to pass the Bill, which it feels is paramount in order to give the police the power they require to place major restrictions on organizations, and in particular individuals, who authorities feel are a danger to democracy in the UK.
In his Queen’s speech next Wednesday, Cameron will announce the new measures, which will be used to specifically target any individual or organization that is trying to radicalize young British people. However, it will also allow the Police to apply to the high court for an order to limit the ‘harmful activities’ of any person it finds to be pushing extremist views on others.
The statement, released by the Conservative party, defines ‘harmful activities’ as any behavior that poses the risk of causing public disorder, which carries the risk of causing harassment, or that can be seen to be causing alarm, panic, or distress, by creating ‘a threat to the functioning of democracy.’
In what appears to be a severely restrictive piece of legislation, which (as the Liberal Democrats pointed out during the last Parliament,) will severely hinder the British public’s ability to openly express freedom of speech. The new bill will not only be used to combat the more comprehensible problems of radicalized opinions relating to race, gender or religion, but will also be available to authorities who feel a person is pursuing harmful activities for the (rather general) ‘purpose of overthrowing democracy’.
In what starts to give the impression of a bill we would expect to see coming out of the Kremlin rather than the UK, anybody who is put under the restrictions of the somewhat exorbitant legislation will be disallowed the right to publicly broadcast, and will be required to submit to the police in advance any materials which he or she plans to disseminate either on the web (including via social media) or in print.
Indeed, it would seem that now the draconian and surveillance obsessed British government has decided that even talking to your own friends via a private page on social media, if believed to be anti-government, could get you slapped by an injunction that will force you to keep your mouth closed. Add to that Cameron’s statement from just after the recent election win, and you start to get quite the picture of the man who is now outright in charge of the country,
‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens “as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”’
Now, according to Cameron and his cronies, it is fair game to not leave alone (whatever that means exactly) those people who merrily go along living life without breaking the law. This a statement that to me seems so radical as to be nearing almost fascist sensibilities, and which I can not help feeling (if it were me that was in charge of the country) I would use to condemn Cameron with – giving him a slap on the wrist with his own bill, for remarks that go against the very essence of being a free British citizen.
The following are a few excerpts from the statement that Cameron will mention in his speech when he addresses the National Security Council (NSC) next Wednesday,
‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.’
‘This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.’
‘Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality. We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society.’
In addition to the points raised by David Cameron’s in his speech, the home secretary Theresa May will say,
‘The twisted narrative of extremism cannot be ignored or wished away. This government will challenge those who seek to spread hatred and intolerance by forming a new partnership of every person and organisation in this country that wants to defeat the extremists.’
A final point of interest within the bill are ‘powers of closure’, which will give the police authority to close down any premises being used to spread extremism, including mosques. Also according to the Guardian, this is only the first of two bills that will go hand in hand, the second of which, when implemented later in the parliament (to bolster the first), will revive the aptly named ‘snoopers charter’ that gives the government the right to retain any records of correspondences, including phone calls, emails and other data, belonging to any person that the government feels is necessary, in the so-called interests of ‘national security.’
Yet again, the ever increasing amounts of surveillance legislation being passed, not only in the UK, but throughout Europe and the US, are great reasons to get a trusted VPN provider. Here at BestVPN, of course, you are in the right place to weigh up your options and find a VPN that gives you the type of service that you require. So, whether you are an activist, journalist, or simply a person who cares deeply about privacy and wants control over their communications, we are here to enable you to make an informed decision that is right for you.