The United Kingdom’s Telegraph newspaper has been very careful to make sure we are all informed of a potentially very grave situation. In 2015, they reported the following, which should outrage just about anyone who believes that we should have control over our own lives and access to data that we should know – even if there are those in power who prefer we don’t know about it: “Investigative journalism will be ‘stopped dead in its tracks’ and local newspapers may be ‘driven out of business’ when new laws restricting Britain’s free press come into force next month, a report warns. Media organizations face ‘the most substantial threat to press freedom in the modern era’ as a result of the ‘menacing’ laws passed in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. An independent report into the implications of the Crime and Courts Act, which comes into force on November 3, says that The Telegraph’s landmark investigation into MPs’ expenses would have been all but impossible under the new regime. Campaigners for free speech are demanding the repeal of the ‘pernicious’ new law.”
The Leveson Inquiry itself – which was named after Lord Justice Leveson – stated the following: “An independent regulatory body for the press should be established. It should take an active role in promoting high standards, including having the power to investigate serious breaches and sanction newspapers. The new body should be backed by legislation designed to assess whether it is doing its job properly. The legislation would enshrine, for the first time, a legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press.”
This is Orwellian-speak at its highest. No one should be in any doubt about what the Leveson Inquiry means when it refers to the investigation of “serious breaches” and sanctions: we’re talking about the press digging into areas we should be aware of, but which those in government are determined to keep us away from.” The conclusions of the committee also state:
“An arbitration system should be created through which people who say they have been victims of the press can seek redress without having to go through the courts. Newspapers that refuse to join the new body could face direct regulation by media watchdog Ofcom. The body should be independent of current journalists, the government and commercial concerns, and not include any serving editors, government members or MPs. The body should consider encouraging the press to be as transparent as possible in relation to sources for its stories, if the information is in the public domain. A whistle-blowing hotline should be established for journalists who feel under pressure to do unethical things.”
While the above paragraph contains some encouraging words, they are also worrying. The hazy reference to “victims of the press” leaves wide open the issue of what amounts to being a victim. Under these new laws, could a politician argue that he or she was a “victim” if he or she had engaged in illegal or unethical fashion? Maybe not right now, but a broad interpretation on the law by a skilled lawyer of the Controllers just might sway the balance. Human Rights House commented in the following way to the words of the Leveson Inquiry: “As Leveson indicated himself, the media has a vital role to play in monitoring and reporting the political scene, challenging and criticizing and holding to account those in power. If journalists cannot do this robustly and without fear of interference or other political consequences, press freedom is constrained.”
And, as Journalism.org has said, “About two-thirds of IRE journalists (64%) believe that the U.S. government probably has collected data about their own phone calls, emails or online communications. This perception is especially prevalent among those who cover national security, foreign affairs or the federal government. Fully 71% of this group says the government has likely collected this data. Eight-in-ten of all journalists surveyed (80%) express the belief that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected by the U.S. government.”
What we have learned here is that there is a multi-pronged attack on our freedoms and on who we are as people on a massive, obscene scale. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.