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‘We must turf out MPs who can’t protect our rights’ – Pirate Party UK leader on snooping

‘We must turf out MPs who can’t protect our rights’ – Pirate Party UK leader on snooping
The UK government is not off the hook after the British surveillance watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, ruled the program of dragnet data collection does not violate human rights, Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party UK, told RT.

The extent of electronic surveillance by America’s NSA and its counterparts throughout the world, including the UK’s GCHQ, was revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The failure to stop such practices shows the British government needs a profound shake-down, Kaye said.

RT: Does this decision come as a surprise to you?

LK: This decision comes as no surprise, because, frankly, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is a toothless body which operates half-in secret. It’s supposed to be an independent body. But earlier this year it was revealed that, in fact, it operates within the Home Office. So it’s not independent from the government at all. Basically, it can only reveal what GCHQ allows it to reveal. So the entire thing is a joke. It’s absolutely right for rights groups to say that we cannot trust this group at all.

It doesn’t change fact that European Court of Justice ruled that blanket data retention over arbitrary periods of time is a violation of rights – the right to a private life. And whatever the IPT says that doesn’t change that.

READ MORE: GCHQ spying ‘doesn’t breach human rights’ – UK tribunal

RT: Well, one of the arguments used in court was ensuring national security. That’s surely the most important thing isn’t it?

LK: Well, of course national security is important. But we’ve seen constantly: this push towards mass surveillance isn’t protecting citizens. Quite the reverse. We’ve seen cynical use recently for example of the hideous murder of Lee Rigby to justify grabbing further powers to snoop on citizens.

But let’s just remind ourselves that thanks to Snowden we know that a massive mass surveillance program has been rolled out in the last years. That hasn’t prevented hideous events like the Lee Rigby murder. It hasn’t stopped the rise of ISIS.

In fact, the problem has been that there has been too much information. And the report into Rigby’s death proved that. So it’s absolute nonsense to say that this is making us safer. Quite the reverse. It’s destroying our freedoms and rights.

Loz Kaye (Still from RT video)

RT: Is it, maybe, worthwhile summarizing it as a green light towards more and continuous spying—this decision?

LK: Well absolutely. This has very worrying implications – not just for the UK but for the whole world, because of the UK’s pivotal point as a hub for fiber optic cables across the Atlantic. Oversees NGOs have pointed out that this leaves people outside the United Kingdom completely at the mercy of GCHQ. Frankly, the United Kingdom is becoming a mass surveillance rogue state.

RT: What can be done because human rights groups are planning to appeal this decision through the European Court? Is there any chance that that may work?

LK: Yes, there’s still room for legal challenges. That’s absolutely important. But the real point is that it’s clear that our spineless members of parliament in Westminster are not ready to stand up for our rights and freedoms – the right to a private life.

What really needs to happen is we need to turf that lot out. Even the Liberal Democrats now have given up the cause of civil liberties and privacy so it’s important that we have new voices and it’s important that people use their vote next year in the general election. That’s where the challenge needs to happen now. Because clearly our MPs are not capable of standing up for us – and, indeed, for the rights of people right across the globe.

RT: Just finally, what is the precedent that this could create?

LK: Well, the precedent shows essentially that we’re not willing to stand up for privacy, but also everything that Snowden feared – that despite revealing the extraordinary extent of the Tempora program – the program that was being discussed in the IPT ruling which actually shows that 600 million telephone events were being snapped up each day across the Atlantic – that nevertheless we’re allowing our rights to be eroded. So it’s important that we actually say it’s time to reverse that now.