An open letter to Jeremy Browne MP on civil liberties… Part 1: The failed regulator

Dear Jeremy

I doubt that in amongst all the ludicrously large number of issues that pass across the desk of a minister, and a Home Office one no less, you will have noticed a small victory I scored over the Home Office recently.

But I hope you’ll give a pause for thought to the implications of the ruling the Information Commissioner made in my favour over the Home Office (decision notice reference FS50469527).

Partly it’s because of what it says about the never-quite-dead proposals for a huge expansion of monitoring of our online activity. Partly it’s because of what the case reveals about the Home Office approach to freedom of information matters.

The prominence given to investigations into the hacking of voicemail messages by or on behalf of journalists has overshadowed another apparent widespread abuse by or at the instigation of the media: the illegal access of mobile phone data, such as their location.

Yet there is a convincing case that the latter was widespread and that it involved regular breaking of the safeguards which are meant to be in place under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) – and those are the very same safeguards which are meant to be protect us against abuse of the new powers the Home Office keeps on pushing for in the never-quite-dead Draft Communications Data Bill. (For details, including the evidence see #6 in this post.)

Yet despite the evidence that the safeguards repeatedly failed on a wide scale, the regulator who should be concerned if the police and others were doing just this has, as far as I can ascertain, taken no steps to investigate, no steps to improve the system as a result and has shown no interest in the problem.

And who is the regulator who is meant to protect us under the Draft Communications Data Bill? The very same. Even though it is a regulator who has failed spectacularly, in repeated ways.

So strengthening the regulator and fixing that sort of problem has been high up the list of things your civil servants have been telling you must be done in any Communications Data Bill? I think we both know the answer to that.

Yet your concerns should go further than just the regulator. They should encompass not only this omission by your own civil servants but also the way they make outlandish and repeatedly changing claims about what is necessary to protect national security and the fight against crime.

But that’s a matter for part 2.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

3 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 21st Apr '13 - 3:41pm

    Excellent posting. And excellent action upon which the posting is based.

  • Martin Pierce 22nd Apr '13 - 8:18am

    I also wanted to say ‘excellent post’. Rapier like as ever. Will be interesting to see what if any reply you get

  • Martin Pierce 22nd Apr '13 - 8:18am

    I also wanted to say ‘excellent post’. Rapier like as ever. Will be interesting to see what if any reply you get

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • David Blake
    @Paul Reynolds In the list of abbreviations, it gives 'dir' as director and 'cons' as consultant/consultancy. Does that fit? Myself I think it's easier to gi...
  • Mary Fulton
    The police forces should certainly apologise for actions against the LGTB+ community in England and Wales since 1967 (and since 1980 in Scotland and 1982 in Nor...
  • Alex Macfie
    Remember that ordinary voters are typically not partisan ideologues. In the Kennedy years we were able to appeal to younger voters with a radical agenda but wit...
  • Robin Stafford
    For those interested in health and the NHS, Roy Lilley's blog is worth a look. A strong supporter of the NHS thought not uncritical. https://myemail-api.cons...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Simon R, Yes well done! :-) It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment. I usually have difficulty in persuading contributors to this site to think in ter...