Farron and Huppert submit Lib Dem Conference motion to curb surveillance

Today’s Guardian reports that Tim Farron and Julian Huppert are behind a move to get Liberal Democrat conference to adopt policy which would stop intrusive mass surveillance of personal data.

Judicial oversight of state surveillance and a regular release of the number of data requests made by the security services should be among the issues examined by a government “commission of experts” into all the recent allegations raised by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, theLiberal Democrats are to propose.

They will also call for the commission to review the effectiveness of all legislation surrounding the security services, including the system of parliamentary accountability. They envisage the commission as being modelled on Barack Obama’s privacy and civil liberties oversight board, a five-strong body of legal, industry and security experts appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress.

This is a culmination of several months of work by both men on this issue, from various articles to a Westminster Hall debate. It shows the Liberal Democrats to be at the forefront of developing a liberal policy that protects citizens from blanket state intrusion.

Farron is quoted as saying:

I think for many ordinary people we can through this issue restore the good name of human rights and civil liberties. I don’t think that people realised that the nation’s phone conversations could be accessed systematically by the state in this way. As Liberal Democrats, we understand the need for a security services, but also for an accountable security service working in the context of a digital bill of rights. In my personal view we have got to make the intelligence and security select committee operate on the same basis as other Commons select committees”. We are trying to strengthen Nick Clegg’s arm in government for the conversations now going on about how to respond to Snowden.

Huppert said:

Of course we benefit from the work of the intelligence and security agencies. But the recent revelations, covered so well in the Guardian, have shown just how much their surveillance has extended without parliamentary approval and without sufficient oversight. We need to set clear guidelines for state surveillance, and update our laws to match our principles.

The motion is said to have the backing of Nick Clegg. If that makes it too Establishment for you, Liberal Democrat conference representatives will have the chance to submit amendments before it is debated at our York Spring Conference in two months’ time.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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4 Comments

  • Thank goodness Liberal Democrats are now giving voice to those (hopefully many) who are seriously concerned about this. I say “hopefully many” but up to now there has been an appalling lack of critical comment in both political and press spheres in the UK since the Guardian publicised Edward Snowden’s revelations – apart from attacks on the Guardian itself. The smug questioning of Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism by Keith Vaz lives on in infamy as far as I am concerned.

    Even within Lib Dem circles who cares about this? How has there been no comment on this post as yet?

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