NETCU WATCH are terrorists (Soon) thoughts on s58a of the Counter Terrorism Bill 2008

Section 58A Counter Terrorism Bill 2008

This is yet another piece of legislation spewed out by the government and at a glance it appears to make the police get an even tighter stranglehold over us. This is in committee at present and it is astonishing how there has not been a public outcry or any discussion about the implications of this part of the Bill.

In a nutshell it will become an offence punishable by up to 10 years to elicit information about a member of the armed forces, intelligence services or police (or indeed anyone who has in the past done any of these occupations) which might be useful for terrorists. The only defence is that you had a good reason for doing so. What a “good reason” could be is anyone’s guess, maybe people will only find out after a full blown Crown Court trial. Even trying to get information about any of those covered is an offence apparently.

Victims of Jacqui Smith’s zeal to launch us into a totalitarian nightmare could include:

Well, us activists for a start and we don’t think that is a coincidence. If a police officer behaves badly and oppressively we have been known to criticise them on the internet. Furthermore it has always been commonsense to jot down police collar numbers on demos and take photos a) for legal reasons to identify police breaking the law, to identify police behaving well, to help clarify matters in both criminal and civil courts. Intelligence on police gathered by activists has helped to acquit innocent activists, enabled activists to sue police and correctly identify the culprits. None of this has ever been used in order to use violence against the police let alone terrorism but we can hazard a guess that they might use this proposed legislation against us. What if MI5 infiltrate a group and that agent is discovered? Will it become an offence to warn other activists? Will it be an offence to after having suspicions raised about a fellow activist to make a few enquiries if the “activist” is an undercover cop?

Journalists will be at considerable risk and we are astonished that they are not up in arms (metaphorically speaking). The police are supposed to be accountable for their actions, if no-one can legally even try to ascertain facts surrounding for example a death in custody then the police have a free rein to do as they wish. The Panorama reporter who joined up as a rookie PC and filmed his racist colleagues undercover might find himself in prison for 10 years even if he just keeps his notes, after all a “terrorist” might, just might, find some use for them. As the protection from any information gathering lasts for life if for example a policeman becomes a politician will any attempt to expose corruption result in an investigative reporter serving a ten year prison sentence?

Search engines such as Google might find themselves in trouble. After all look up Superintendant Pearl and information pops up in abundance. We have no idea how any of this would be useful to a terrorist but if for example an animal rights activist has done a Google search on a police officer or indeed ex-army, head of security, thug we are sure they might in some cases at least attempt to use section 58A against that activist if they get their mitts on their computer. We advise the strongest possible adherence to computer security. The companies themselves could even be at risk of prosecution, Wikipedia elicits information on many things all the time does it not? Service providers may tell the police stuff about users or heavily vet certain websites.

We may be over reacting but we strongly suspect that if this Bill gets royal assent that at least some people will face raids, violent arrest, months on bail/or remanded in custody and a trial. Even if acquitted some people’s lives will be on hold for a very long time at best and potentially jobs, homes and relationships could be at risk. We do have to stand up to this law though, it interferes with us defending ourselves against the police and gives a lifetime of immunity from criticism and scrutiny to everyone who serves in the armed forces, is a constable or a spook however badly they behave.

We have no intention whatsoever of harming any police officers, troops or MI5 agents but do not intend to stand idly by and allow them to get away with criminal, oppressive and violent behaviour. Furthermore as has been commented elsewhere this prospective legislation came after a soldier was targeted for execution allegedly by “extremists”, we do not know how true this is as we only have the press to go by but this is given as the reason. We would like to add whilst we respect all religions and creeds, we want religious freedom, we are utterly opposed to religious nutters who believe that women are inferior, Gay people should be murdered, that torturing and killing people are acceptable and that they are involved in some sort of “holy” war. Whether they call themselves Christians, or Muslims or anything else we despise everything they stand for and would have no intention whatsoever in assisting with the capture and murder of ANYONE (for the benefit of the tape!). Fear of religious nutters and paedophiles is being used to destroy any notion of common sense and freedom. It remains to be seen how this law will be used but it does encompass far more people than those planning to target an individual in the armed forces. We fully intend to fight all the way through the courts if we are targeted and urge everyone else whether you be a journalist, an activist or just someone who is annoyed about the copper’s Leylandii hedge next door and does a land registry search on the property we urge you to do the same.

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One Response

  1. The appearance of this legislation certainly seems to create a huge grey area in which the distinction between Terrorism and Political Activism can be blurred. There are plenty of demonstrable instances where anti-terror laws have been used to suppress political protest, and it would be naive to the point of stupidity to assume that this law would be used sparingly .

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