Peter Mandelson has hit the news today, his deliberations over internet piracy coming down firmly in the headline-grabbing authoritarian camp, with which Labour is as familiar as ever. “Three strikes and you’re out!” he cries.
Curiously, one thing that seems to have disappeared down the memory hole (or at least been soft-pedalled somewhat) in today’s reporting of Mandelson’s decision is that it comes after several law-enforcement and intelligence organisations let it be known that they opposed the plans, on the grounds that the inevitable sharp increase in encrypted traffic on the internet would make their jobs more difficult. The Times tell us that…
Law enforcement groups, which include the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit, believe that more encryption will increase the costs and workload for those attempting to monitor internet traffic. One official said: “It will make prosecution harder because it increases the workload significantly.”
A source involved in drafting the Bill said that the intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, had also voiced concerns about disconnection. “The spooks hate it,” the source said. “They think it is only going to make monitoring more difficult.”
The slightly more predictable bodies are also opposed to the plans, of course: ISPs, the Open Rights Group, the general public, etc. Just about nobody with any knowledge of this situation thinks this is a good idea.
It’s unpopular, it won’t work, and it will make it harder for various people to do their jobs. It’s a perfect Labour policy, in other words. I guess that’s why Mandelson seems determined to plow on regardless.
If you want to do something about this, the ORG have this excellent three point plan:
1) Please download a copy of our MP briefing here (PDF)
2) Contact your MP and ask to see him/her at his next surgery and ask them to back EDM 1997
3) Share any key points from the meeting via this form
There is probably a political space to be filled here. Nick Clegg has already given his opinion in this area, and it’s broadly on the sensible ground that most of the public inhabit on this issuue. Nick’s liberal instinct has left him well placed to make some of the running on this issue. Go for it, Nick!