It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has - Sir William Osler
THE UK Labour party is hunched over plans for an internet snooping law and is trying to resuscitate it for the third time.
We fail to see any argument for a snooping law. In a land where webcam chats are screengrabbed and Tempora turns to chalk in your mouth, obviously over the counter snooping seems moot. That has never stopped lawmakers in the past, though, and it seems unlikely to now.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will brave the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune today and tell anyone listening that the UK internet needs a snooping law because of kids and crime.
She'll give the speech in Westminster this afternoon, and will throw up spectres like child abuse, murder and Edward Snowden.
The Labour Party is ready with spoilers for anyone who might still be queuing for a choc ice when the minister speaks.
"Online communication and technology is forcing us to think again about our traditional frameworks for balancing privacy and safety, liberty and security. Perhaps most serious of all has been the growth in online child abuse," she will say.
"And - with perhaps the widest ramifications of all - former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked hundreds of thousands of US intelligence documents and 58,000 British intelligence documents - raising serious concern about the impact on national security and about the scale of activity of intelligence agencies all at the same time."
According to the Labour Party, Cooper will suggest that a review of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) should be undertaken "to make sure the law keeps up with the challenges of the digital age".
"In the face of growing online crime and abuse, and the use of online communications by criminals and extremists, the police, intelligence and security agencies need to be able to operate more effectively in this digital world. But for them to do so, we also need stronger safeguards and limits to protect our privacy and sustain confidence in their vital work," she will add.
"The oversight and legal frameworks are now out of date. That means we need major reforms to oversight and a thorough review of the legal framework to keep up with changing technology. And there are difficult wider challenges about privacy, data and the private sector, and how we protect British citizens' interests in a global internet where everyone follows different rules."
The last time we heard this sort of talk was under the guise of the Communications Data Bill, a piece of legislation that we thought was seen off last year when the Liberal Democrats kicked it into touch. Cooper will suggest, as we suspected, that its issues have never gone away.
"These issues - online crime, private sector data storage, intelligence operations - are often treated as separate," she will add. "Yet all raise the same fundamental questions about how we sustain both liberty and security in a digital age." µ
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