THE UK PIRATE PARTY has slammed government plans which could see IP addresses linked to individuals in the same way as phone numbers.
Loz Kaye, outspoken leader of the party, said: "It's extraordinary that the Home Office did not consult [the] industry about these plans.
"To me it shows they don't care whether they will work or not. They are just interested in headlines."
He went on to criticise the Liberal Democrats, which had earlier welcomed the move, saying it provides proof that there will be no return to snooping in this Parliament.
"It's clear that the Liberal Democrats have completely lost the plot on mass surveillance. To suggest this is necessarily the end of this issue is fatuous. Just look what happened with DRIP," continued Kaye.
The concept, outlined by home secretary and lizard queen Theresa May, would force ISPs to assign fixed IP addresses to individual users and machines, thus allowing authorities to identify with more certainty those responsible for cyber crimes or other nefarious activity.
May told the BBC's Andrew Marr last Sunday: "This is a step but it doesn't go all the way to ensuring that we can identify all the people we will need to."
Kaye disputes this, however. "Essentially what this government wants is to turn your devices into digital ID cards. It's the end of any pretence that the coalition is interested in personal privacy or freedom," he said.
The real upshot of identifiable numbers is that the people who are most likely to be positively identifiable from their IP addresses are the same people who haven't done anything wrong and have nothing to hide, as all the illegal and immoral stuff is hidden behind firewalls and IP spoofing software.
The move has received the kind of suspicious welcome that often greets matters of public safety at the expense of civil liberty.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, told The INQUIRER: "There's no problem with the targeted investigation of terrorist suspects, including where it requires linking apparently anonymous communications to a particular person.
"But every government proposal of the last so many years has been about blanket surveillance of the entire population.
"The Snowden revelations demonstrate that they were even prepared to act outside the law and without parliamentary consent. So, forgive us if we look for the devil in the detail of this new bill."
Kaye, however, does not take comfort from this retort. "The response from many campaigners has been disappointingly weak. It's like Theresa May is finally grinding people down. But we can't let her grind us down for the sake of civil liberties," he said.
David Davis MP, well known for his efforts to protect civil liberties, warned: "It's a stepping stone back to the old snoopers' charter, the thing that Parliament roundly threw out about a year and half ago because they weren’t convinced that this was necessary.
"Now, this technical change is okay, it's sensible, but the home secretary has said in effect that she sees it as a route back into the whole snoopers' charter and, frankly, I think she’s going to have real trouble.”
The 'snoopers' charter', which would have obliged ISPs to keep records of internet sites visited by each and every member of the public for 12 months or more, was scrapped after the Lib Dem pullout, but it has not stopped the government trying to sneak many of its values in through other legislation.
The party said the suggestion "shows that the much wider and disproportionate proposals in the snoopers’ charter will not be resurfacing under the coalition government", reflecting leader Nick Clegg's decision to withdraw his support from the bill during 2013.
Full details of the new IP legislation are expected to be announced in Parliament later this week. µ
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