'Hidden away' in Deregulation Bill – plan to make it easier for police to seize journalistic material … The Newspaper Society has urged the Government to withdraw plans to change the law to make it easier for the police to seize journalistic material. The changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 are included in clause 47 of the Deregulation Bill which has its second Commons reading on Monday. – PressGazette
Dominant Social Theme: These changes are needed.
Free-Market Analysis: The galloping censorship of the UK media continues apace. It wasn't enough to block pornographic sites (which turned out to be a blockage of various politically incorrect websites); now the British establishment is taking aim at journalists directly.
Of course, some journos are in the dock already, facing charges of wiretapping "celebrities." That this trial comes as Edward Snowden is exposing US and British Intel eavesdropping around the world provides a certain irony. It parallels similar actions being tried across the pond where the US Congress on various occasions has tried to strip non-mainstream media journalists of Constitutional protections.
We're not surprised by this. Authoritarian efforts of all kinds are underway in Europe and the US, and we don't see any diminishment in the near future. In fact, the pace seems to be picking up.
The media efforts are especially significant, however, as they contradict certain fundamental freedoms of expression that not so many years ago were recognized throughout the West. Here's more:
The NS notes that the changes to PACE are "hidden away in the Deregulation Bill amidst changes to regulation of knitting yarns, sale of liquer confectionary to children and the repeal of archaic offences of shaking carpets or keeping pigstie".
The NS says that the changes will take the mandatory procedural safeguards which allow the media to have advance notification of police bids to seize journalistic material and to have objections heard before a judge.
According to the NS, the PACE clauses to be repealed are "vital to the Act's protection of journalistic material against inappropriate police action. "They are integral to Parliament's intention to safeguard freedom of expression, facilitate public interest reporting and maintain media independence of the police. They help not only to protect journalistic material and sources, but journalists themselves.
"Reporters are put at risk, whether reporting riot or investigating wrongdoing, if perceived to be ready sources of information for the police and media organisations too vulnerable to police demands for journalistic material.
"These provisions have been in place for thirty years, authoritatively considered by the courts and pragmatically applied by the police, the media and the courts."
None of the above means what it says. The process of politics in the 2000s has only worked one way … toward censorship and intimidation. It was 9/11 that gave governments the justification to put into place a "war on terror," and this program has been escalating ever since.
The speed and savagery with which governments and Intel agencies have moved has not been fully commented on in the mainstream media, probably for obvious reasons. But if you stand back and look at the "big picture," you have to be struck not just by the speed of what's going on but also the discipline.
When certain legislation is not moved on, it reoccurs – over and over if necessary. What was called the PACE act – which is now about to be considered once again with certain changes – first made its appearance a year ago.
Here's something from the PressGazette published in February of 2013:
Journalists will end up going to prison if Home Office proposals to loosen up legal protection for sources go through, a reporter involved in a landmark press freedom fight has warned.
The Government is set to put changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) out to consultation later this year. These include the recommendation from Leveson that journalistic material would only be protected under PACE if it did not breach confidentiality agreements or other laws.
And they suggest that police would no longer have to prove they tried to get the information from other sources before targeting journalists. The Home Office has also accepted a recommendation that all ACPO rank police officers must keep notes of conversations with the media.
And it has adopted guidelines which state that police officers should not communicate with the media unless "there is a policing purpose for doing so".
Not only did governmental forces pursue and reconfigure PACE; those behind the act have made it part of a larger legislative package to try to ensure its passage.
Despite such energetic efforts, we believe that it may already be too late for authoritarian measures to work well when it comes to retarding what we call the Internet Reformation.
A decade after public penetration, tens of millions have awakened to the elite's dominant social themes and the cognitive dissonance generally of societies that seem "democratic" but are in reality controlled only by a few.
What this constant encroachment on freedoms WILL do is create continued significant tensions between a partially awakened populace and opponents of freedom and free markets who are determined, apparently, to introduce ever more draconian security measures.
As this is the 21st century and not the 20th, we are certainly facing a situation where such tensions – when combined with other political and economic manipulations – will create potentially explosive situations.
What seems to be a determined attempt to control the flow of information and people's reactions to it will actually have a much different impact. Is this really the point?