THE UK has once again avoided having its internet communications stuffed into a filing cabinet by the UK government and opened up to law enforcement and surveillance agencies. Yes, once again we have seen off the Snoopers' Charter.
The Draft Communications Data Bill (DCDB) just won't get shifted despite the opposition.
It comes back time and time again, like the smell of sick in the back of a taxi, and proves itself to be equally as hard to shift. It was last seen off in 2012 when Nick Clegg opposed it.
We have four peers to thank for the latest return of the crap phoenix, and not much thanks to give them.
The four Lords really wanted to get huge chunks of the DCDB into new counter-terrorism rules. It's something that anyone who has ever heard of the Charter, and knows anything about how governments currently handle data, will have been appalled by.
The Lords felt that wholesale grabbing of people's communications will prevent terrorism attacks. They have presumably forgotten that terrorist attacks have happened despite an already suffocating surveillance blanket, but give them a break - this is the House of Lords.
Lords Blair, a retired policeman, Carlile, a practising barrister, King, defence secretary under John Major, and West, ex-Navy, are a mixed-bag of entitled chaps who have held various political and security roles.
The fantastic four tabled their amendments in late January, presumably hoping that they would get snuck in without much consideration.
Their plans came hot on the heels of terrorist attacks, and at least one of the four showed that he has a working understanding of the main online communications channels.
"I am not a tweeter. We have Facebook and Twitter," said Lord King as the push began.
"Somebody tried to explain WhatsApp to me; somebody else tried to explain Snapchat. I do not know about them, but it is absolutely clear that the terrorists and jihadists do."
King continued, putting the wind up his audience and hollering tales of online ghouls into probably rather sleepy ears, by asking a question that we hear a lot from the concerned lips of terror-struck politicians.
"How do we face this challenge? How do we face the explosion of new technology that means we are up against terrorists who are extremely adept at using any new means of communication that is, perhaps, beyond our reach or, certainly at the present time, beyond our legislation?" he asked.
The answer, of course, is with the usual knee-jerk reaction. With little time for anyone to really think about what was going on, or so they probably hoped, a number of amendments to our "out of date" rules were rushed towards a vote.
The peers did not consider the opposition, though, and the opposition does not forget and it doesn't let up.
While the Liberal Democrat party - the Richard Hammond of the top three parties if you happen to endure Top Gear - has made a grab at the credit, but the credit really lies elsewhere.
Rights groups like the Open Rights Group, and outfits like the UK Pirate Party, have been awash with anti-Snoopers' Charter rhetoric since the blighted legislation was first touted.
Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party, waved off the charter again yesterday, but told The INQUIRER in a statement that he wouldn't be putting his hand back into his pocket particularly quickly
"The attempt to sneak in the DCDB essentially in its entirety into the middle of another bill was an insult to democracy. The gang of four peers had no mandate for this attack on our privacy. They also seemed to celebrate their ignorance of technology," he said.
"It's clear that come May voters really need to think how they cast their ballot. This won't be the last return of the Snoopers' Charter zombie and next time we need to kill it with fire."
Kaye added that it is "grass roots" lobbying that saw off the Charter, whatever the Liberal Democrats say.
"Once again grass roots campaigners have seen off the Snoopers' Charter which keeps on trying to claw its way zombie-like out of the grave," he added.
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Rights Group and the Pirate Party very quickly mobilised a campaign which certainly disproved the myth that British voters don't care about the surveillance issue." µ
We've had no luck so you don't have to...
Oh Microsoft... not again...
Hmmm... says Microsoft
No way, Norway