The ins and outs of the Snoopers Charter

web snoopers charterYou may be forgiven for being confused over whether the Snoopers Charter (aka the Communications Data Bill)  is in or out.

Back in December Julian Huppert reported that the Joint Committee that was looking at the Bill had unanimously agreed that it would have to be significantly amended to be acceptable. In an article in the Independent he wrote: “We have gone through the Home Office proposals – and the results are damning. The Bill as it is simply cannot proceed. “

In April, Nick Clegg vetoed the Bill, and Julian Huppert greeted the announcement with much relief, having campaigned against it consistently since its inception. However, Jonathan Calder warned us to be vigilant.

The Bill was notable by its absence from the Queen’s Speech in May.

Then came the appalling murder in Woolwich, and it was not long before this was being presented by some as a reason for reviving the Snoopers Charter. Following that Daniel O’Malley argued on Lib Dem Voice that “We cannot give up the freedoms that our nation has held so dear and fought so hard for in the name of expedience.”

Over the last few days we have read in the Guardian the extraordinary news of the extent to which US National Security Agency had been extracting information from major online providers such as Google and Facebook about US and UK citizens, with, it claims, the explicit co-operation of GCHQ.

In spite of the public anger at those revelations, yesterday the Home Office confirmed that it still wanted to bring in enhanced Internet surveillance. Unnamed minsters are quoted as saying: “It does not change our position. The government is continuing to look at ways of addressing this issue with communication service providers. This may involve legislation.”

The fight is not over yet.

* Mary Reid is the Monday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.

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4 Comments

  • Richard Whelan 11th Jun '13 - 5:22pm

    I don’t know what you all think?

    I think as a party we need to have an open discussion on how we resolve the dilemma of protecting civil liberties at the same time as you maintain national security and come up with a practical liberal solution that can then be debated, firstly within the party, at say, one of our Federal Conferences next year, in the country at the next General Election, and finally, as part of negotiations to agree a future coalition if the next election results in a hung parliament.

    That is the only way I can see the party coming to a settled view on alternatives to secret courts and snoopers charters. If we oppose something, like the overwhelming majority of the party, myself included, do in this case, we don’t just need to oppose. We need to come up with practical alternatives as well.

  • “The fight is not over yet.” Really? The Snoopers Charter, it seems to me, lies somewhere between legal ‘window dressing’, and a technical, ‘rubber stamping’, of what is actually already happening. If I understand the implications of the last three days of revelations(?), then on both sides of the pond, Obama and Cameron can genuinely, and legitimately, stand up and say “Your government is NOT spying on you”
    What they fail to point out is that snooping on British (and European?), communications appears to have been out-sourced to the FSA (and thus cleverly maintains a legal arms length, from the British government). And who knows,.. perhaps Obama has a reciprocal (arms length), arrangement with GCHQ?
    So if this is anywhere near correct, and the ‘freedom and liberty’ horse has bolted, how will this ‘fight’ for our liberty, be undertaken?

  • Totally agree with Richard Whelan’s comment.

  • David White 14th Jun '13 - 2:57pm

    Oh dear, the usual pro-snooping bunch of failed NewLab ministers are supporting the equally useless OldCon mobsters in lusting for an official charter to give British spooks carte blanche to pry into everything about all of us. And who could those NewLab people be? Well, what a surprise! It’s Jack Straw, Alan Johnson, et al – the usual suspects.

    If nothing else could convince me that free access to my phone, emails, etc, is a bad idea, an unholy alliance ‘twixt OldCon and NewLab does the trick.

    Of course, there’s no use protesting. Well, we now know that all our spooks are getting all the info they want from their Yank counterparts without a new law to help ‘em!

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