The Tory Government, have republished the Snooper’s Charter, 😥 changed some of the words and it has been inching towards the House of Commons via three parliamentary committees of experts, all of whom have criticised the Bill as it stands. The Labour Party plans to abstain on the 2nd reading, and explains why here. The campaigning academic, Paul Bernal, has written a blog, welcoming Andy Burnham’s press release as the most pro-privacy comments made by a Labour Shadow Home Secretary and makes the following comments.

He i.e. Paul argues

  1. for more parliamentary time,
    1. this is supported by the three parliamentary scrutiny committees and the independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation
    2. and the recent example of the Digital Economy Act, which even 5½ years later hasn’t been implemented because it’s unimplementable, partly due to inadequate parliamentary scrutiny; it got 2 days in the Commons
  2. for improvements in the judicial oversight regime
    1. Currently they propose that judges can only review procedure, not look for adequate probable cause
    2. In the light of the fact that defence of the State’s economic interests is grounds for surveillance, Labour shouldn’t be giving powers of this nature to a Tory Home Secretary, they’ll be used to attack the right to orqanise
  3. opposition to mass/bulk surveillance
    1. it’s not acceptable or real to state that it’s not surveillance until a person as opposed to a machine reads it
  4. recognition of the difficulty in implementing internet call records
    1. This is the basis for extending snooping to one’s internet browsing habits, it’s technologically hard to do and at the core of the additonal overreach. The clauses are the most criticised by the parliamentary scrutiny committees.
  5. a reassessment of the position and greater clarity on encryption (bans & backdoors)
    1. Are they trying to ban end-to-end encryption?
    2. Or mandate the ability to make/provide backdoors
    3. denying encryption to ordinary citizens won’t deny it to the baddies, be they UK based or not
  6. working with science and industry
    1. most computer scientists oppose the concepts expressed in the IPBill.  They argue it’s dangerous to security and privacy
    2. and will put UK industry at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world
  7. protecting ordinary people

He finishes by calling on Labour to reject the argument that not passing a bad law would show it’s weak on terrorism and other crime; we need privacy and encryption to be safe and there is no evidence that these

Burnham states in the press release,

Where I have potential disagreement with the Home Secretary is over the criteria for the use of the most intrusive powers. I have consistently made clear that I believe those powers should only be used in connection with the investigation of the most serious crime or to protect people in life-threatening situations. However, instead of tightening the criteria, this Bill appears to lower the threshold for their use and allow the authorities to access them in a much broader range of circumstances. This raises serious questions. To date, the Government has not adequately justified this significant extension of powers and we will be pressing them to do so.

“Another area of particular concern is the widening of access to Internet Connection Records to include information about websites accessed beyond those related to communications services and illegal material. Parliament will need to consider this and whether the powers in connection with their collection and use are proportionate and justified.

Three things which I want to add to the debate

They seems missed in the melee, is that defending the Nation’s economic secuirty is reason to become the target of the intelligence services and whether they are planning to spy on German board rooms, or British Trade Unions doesn’t matter, both are unacceptable.

The argument for more time to properly scrutinise the law has a huge historical precedent in that many, maybe even most anti-terrorist or defence of the realm act have been passed in a hurry and in retrospect are seen to be massive over-reaches, from the Prevention of Terrorism Act , to the US Patriot Act, via the Digital Economy Act, rapid legislation is poor and anti-democratic legislation.

This is the third attempt by the intelligence services to legalise their mass surveillance activities of the last 20 years. GCHQ had the arrogance to call one of their programmes, “Mastering the Internet”.  Why should they get a free pass?

The successful campaign to defend the FOIA shows the opposition can make a difference.


The Snooper’s Charter again! :'(
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