Upcoming British Legislation Could Jail Journos for 14 Years

Cross-posted from The Daily Bell

Britain is doing one of the things it does best, which is thinking of how to punish people. Now it’s figuring out ways to throw more people in jail for longer periods of time for exposing various kinds of government crimes.

That’s right. It’s not thinking about lessening those crimes, only covering them up.

The British government has received an updated Espionage Act that is a good deal stronger than the act on the books. It puts journalists in the same boat as foreign agents when it comes to spying and also does not differentiate between those who are citizens of other countries and those who come from Britain.

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The proposals have been slammed by journalists who faced down British and US government threats after publishing Edward Snowden’s sensational revelations in 2013.  The UK Law Commission’s recommendations are contained in a 326-page consultation paper titled Protection of Official Data [PDF].

“It is alarming that such a far-reaching proposed reform of laws which could be used to jail whistleblowers and journalists should have been drafted without any adequate consultation with free speech organisations”, Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor who published the Snowden revelations, told The Reg.

According to the commission, the proposed “redrafted offence” of espionage would “be capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers it”.  There should, it says, be “no restriction on who can commit the offence,” including hackers, leakers, elected politicians, journalists, and NGOs.

The journalists who helped Edward Snowden with thousands of GCHQ documents and who visited him in Hong Kong in 2013, could be thrown in jail for long periods of time under this potential legislation

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