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UK’s Proposed National Security Bill is a Threat to Your Freedom of Expression

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A sweeping new threat to freedom of expression is contained in the UK’s National Security Bill which had its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, 6 June. The Bill is being championed by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Although the government has claimed the measure is designed to prevent new types of spying, the Bill is much broader, wider even than the much-criticised section 1 of the 1911 Official Secrets Act it would replace.

Journalists who receive some funding from foreign governments are at risk of committing offences under a bill that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The risk also applies to individuals working for civil society organisations such as human rights groups.

It would be an offence to disclose leaked information that would prejudice the “safety or interests of” the UK. What constituted such prejudice would be entirely a matter for ministers to decide and there would be no defence to argue that the publication was in the public interest.

Also, as The Guardian reported on the weekend, under the Bill, ministers and spies would be given immunity from collusion in serious crimes overseas.

Read more: Priti Patel’s Sweeping New Threat to Free Expression, Declassified UK

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Concerns about the Bill

Initial concerns about clause 1 of the Bill were set out in a joint 8-page briefing for MPs by the Campaign for Freedom of Information (“CFOI”) and ARTICLE 19.

ARTICLE19 is a charity registered in the UK with offices in 8 countries.  It works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression, including the right to information.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information played a leading role in persuading the government to introduce the Freedom of Information Act in 2000 and has successfully defended it from restrictions proposed by every government since. Regarding the National Security Bill, CFOI wrote:

“We are concerned at the Bill’s implications for journalists and those working for civil society organisations involved in legitimate activities who receive some funding from foreign governments. Such individuals are at risk of committing offences under the Bill for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

“The identical act by someone not in receipt of foreign government funding might not be an offence at all.”

Under the Bill, a civil society organisation engaged in legitimate activities with funding from UK-friendly foreign government sources, such as the Swedish Development Agency or US AID, for work on environmental, human rights, press freedom, asylum, aid or other issues could be found guilty of committing an offence. Significantly, if a civil society organisation operating without foreign funding took the identical action, it would not be guilty of an offence and would not face a similar penalty.

A journalist working for a government state broadcaster – including that of a friendly state – who reports on a leak of protected information that the UK government decided was prejudicial to the interests or safety of the country, could be found guilty of committing an offence. They could also face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Essentially, the proposed Bill will criminalise matters that do not involve espionage, sabotage or other hostile actions by or on behalf of foreign states.

Under the Bill, the UK government would decide what constituted the safety or interests of the country, and this could not be challenged in court.

ARTICLE 19 and CFOI have urged the UK government to review the Bill and to ensure it protects the rights of journalists, civil society and the general public to exercise their right to freedom of expression and to access information.

Read more: National Security Bill threatens free expression, ARTICLE19, 6 June 2022

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1 year ago

More ambulance chasing lawyers pretend they’re protecting you, their victims.

> The Bill is being championed by Home Secretary Priti Patel

That’s what you get when you have foreigners running your country. I can’t wait for the “glorious” day when the first ukranian mp is “elected”.

And of course, this article goes on about the poor little “journalists” being trod on by the “bill”.

Remember the 800 P&O workers? Thought not. Remember the dead and disabled jabbed? Thought not. Remember the evicted and homeless? Thought not. But oh my, the “government” is “passing” yet another “law” that gives them the “right” to crush anyone that gets in their path and it’s shock horror who’d have thought it.

Don’t forget to wave the flags for the “queen” and her pedo offspring and to crush anyone that objects to the immigrants and the perverts.

1 year ago

Firstly, Priti Patel is a CIA/Mossad agent.
Secondly, the “UK” is a Corporation, NOT a country.
Therefore anything contained within the proposed bill ONLY applies to those working for or dependant upon the UK Corporation.

Reply to  john
1 year ago

The uk is a multi cultural hell hole created by the “royals” and the “lords” and supported by 99% of the “great british public” who’re falling over themselves to praise people who shove their penises up each others backsides, take over other people’s jobs, and rape children.

Reply to  jane
1 year ago

Is that downvote a drive by from a poof? Or an immigrant? Or an “MP”? Or perhaps a delicate little old lady still vainly waving her flag for the “queen”?

Leonard Bremner
Leonard Bremner
1 year ago

They have done this with the knowledge that they are admitting guilt in probably all things to do with government that they had to implement a blanket gaging order on the free press and anyone else who has evidence of the governments criminality.

In the covid 19 programme this was launched under the cover of the Boris vote, very auspicious, which means they were doing this during the Jubilie celebrations Note. There has been a private prosecution of the government for the COVID-19 crime of mass murder.

So I assume this is to protect them from Government witnesses having evidence against them from disclosing this under oath which has now been nullified as if they say anything ie the public employees which are Government staff or anyone else will get life in jail. ergo a total criminal dictatorship of the worst kind

1 year ago

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