Under anti-terrorist laws the powers of Covert Surveillance was extended to a large range of State organizations, including Local Councils. Even organizations to which you may owe money to.
The threshold of who can authorize surveillance is considerably lowered; Previously these powers could only be authorized by Senior officers in Police and Security Services and the Home Secretary.
The purposes for which it can be used for have been greatly extended
Councils have been using these powers in a major way for a whole range of low level crimes and misdemeanours (Even ‘Dog Fouling’ ) . I am sure you have read other stories in the Press.
One family was watched for a month, by Council agents from cars, filmed, schedule recorded, followed on the School Run etc. Why? To make sure that they weren’t cheating on their School Application Form.
The offending article is literally two lines in a paragraph. (Sorry but I lost the files on my Laptop so you will have to check it out yourself.)
It truly is The Devil In the Detail.
Without Repealing or Amending this section of the Bill it is a waste of time.The relevant bill is named; ‘Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act’ (RIPA)
Ministers saying ,it should be regulated better will not make the fundamental change necessary. After all, regulations can change at whim, but laws are much harder to change.
Why is this idea important?
This is important, because we cannot live in a situation where we don't know if we are being watched at any time or any place. Whether you have something to hide or not.
Perfectly innocent people, cannot have such gross invasion of their privacy. The right to Privacy is one of the foundation stones of Civil Rights in a Liberal Democracy.
The scope for abuse is enormous.
We have tolerated it up to now, because we think of our Politicians as fundamentaly benign even if they are a bunch of rascals.
But it may not be true at some unforseen point in the future.
The family mentioned above where completely innocent of any wrondoing.
I dont like the idea that you are never alone. Or at least you don't know if you are or not..
I don't want to eat my sandwich on a park bench down by the river in the knowledge that I might be being watched by a camera, powerful enough to see the hairs on my nose or the Pckle in my sandwich, just in case I might litter the floor. Worse still it may be a manned camera.
A good old fashioned Park Warden would do just fine!