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British spooks are continuing to defy public oversight of the draconian Regulatory of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act.

An interim report from Parliament's security services 'watchdog', the Intelligence and Security Committee, made it on the Web today, here.
It's worth reading for all the wrong reasons: as it beautifully illustrates how shallow and perfunctory scrutiny of the billion pound security services really is.

The ISC flies through a year's business in 16 pages, or eight and a half pages if you discount the pre-amble. Nevertheless the committee is deeply unhappy with the public's own watchdog for the RIP Act, although it gives little more detail here.

Alone amongst industrialised democracies, the UK subjects may be required to hand over their decryption keys, even if they're not suspected of a crime, or face a two year jail sentence. Recipients of a decryption order are not permitted to publicise the fact, and breaching that condition results in a five-year prison sentence.

The RIP Tribunal - citizens defence against abuses of the Act - has been criticised for being poorly staffed, so underfunded that the ISC reported in December, that it was unable to open mail, let alone process complaints. The Tribunal has no right of cross-examination. But the ISC meekly notes only that progress needs to be monitored by the next committee. Without an effective RIP Tribunal, it is impossible for UK citizens to invoke the European Convention of Human Rights, the only legal recourse available. ®

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