Published on Dec 10, 2014
Watch the full episode here: http://bit.ly/1Gio1EF
Duncan Campbell, the investigative journalist famous for trying to reveal the Zircon project, a 1980s eavesdropping project, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about surveillance. He thinks accountability and transparency has improved since the ‘70s, but it has delivered nothing, pointing to the Guardian being ‘cowed’ into stopping reporting the Snowden revelations. As a result of things like Snowden, select committees have been given more power to investigate and do their job properly, even if the reports are redacted for the public. Accountability may have improved to a degree, but the ‘political quality’ of our society has declined, with no one willing to argue against the government. When the snoopers’ charter was shot down for being ridiculous, they made a secret plan, and concocted an emergency that meant we had to record everyone’s communications and put the bill through parliament in a week without a debate, ‘defeating’ proper process. He says when he made the Zircon programme, then director general of the BBC was put under immense pressure not to show it, and that could happen again, pointing out under Alan Rusbridger’s editorship he had to allow the material of his journalists to be destroyed in front of his eyes. The d-notice system ‘is complete rubbish,’ a system to prevent reporting which most MPs wanted abolished 30 years ago. His policy is if there is a significant chance that lives will be at risk, either don’t publish or give the government notice, as long as they don’t use that for threats or sabotage. His recent revelations have related to telecommunications companies providing an ‘integrated spy system’ for intelligence agencies, saying they sell access for ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ and provide facilities for ‘sabotage and tampering the internet.’ Vodafone, he says, seem to have made some steps to try and be ethical, but when they bought Cable and Wireless, they should have known that it was so integrated with GCHQ that ‘they supplied staff’ and they inherited a secret apparatus which, ‘if they were ethical they ought to demolish it.’ He says Vodafone is in a difficult position, and ‘major companies have all accepted secret government orders’ leading to a ‘system of secret governance that’s intolerable.’ And the government has made it ‘almost impossible’ to go into the detail people are entitled to about what GCHQ are doing.
Vodafone gave us this statement: “Vodafone does not recognise any of the intelligence activities identified and we have no more knowledge of or information about any of those intelligence agency activities.”
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