Julian Huppert MP writes…Nick Clegg has put Liberal Democrats far ahead of other parties on security and privacy

This morning was a good day for Liberal Democrats. I and many others went to RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute to hear Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of our party, deliver a speech on security and privacy in the internet age.

He sent out a clear and strong message: the legal framework for the UK’s intelligence agencies and intelligence oversight structure is in desperate need of an overhaul, and this must start with an independent review, which he has commissioned.

His wider ambitions are set out in a piece for the Guardian today. The Tories are blocking changes – disappointingly but unsurprisingly – but this independent Obama-style review will force the pace and should produce firm and credible proposals which we will then deliver.

This review will be conducted by experts from a wide range of backgrounds: people who know the intelligence world, civil liberty types, lawyers and technologists. This is something I have called for in the past and is one of the key recommendations made in our policy motion ‘A Digital Bill of Rights’ that will be debated this Sunday at Conference.

We are Liberals and nothing says this clearer than the motion we have put forward. As usual in this field we are miles ahead of any of the other parties. It’s certainly welcome that Yvette Cooper has endorsed some of the proposals we make in our motion but not only does she not go far enough by failing to address the key issue of bulk data collection, she also lacks credibility. Her party after all introduced ID Cards, and tried to introduce 90 day detention without charge.

We are the only party that has consistently stood up for civil liberties and we are the only party that can be trusted on this. Nick ended his speech by saying that “the way in which governments make use of that data should be of fundamental concern to anyone who cares about liberal democracy.” That is us.

Read the speech, come to the debate and our fringe at conference (meeting room 6 at the Novotel at 8:15 on Friday night), and be proud that yet again we are showing leadership on the critical issues of the day.

* Julian Huppert was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2010-15

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  • The wider security context – I still am concerned that our Trident successor policy does not make sense. Could we have it updated please, to either do away with nuclear deterrent altogether, or else have a proper grown up nuclear deterrent with Continuous At Sea Deployment. This is the most effective solution militarily. Nuclear cruise missiles are more easily defeated and have a shorter range anyway, limiting military options.

    Spending 90% of what is needed for CASD and not then having it seems like a false cost saving.

  • jedibeeftrix 4th Mar '14 - 9:53pm

    what part does RUSI play in all this?

  • Whilst I think this is good news, I think the fact the majority of the party supported secret courts means that the time to take the moral high ground over ID cards has passed.

  • David Evans 5th Mar '14 - 8:14am

    I don’t think you can say the “majority of the party supported secret courts,” with any degree of objectiveness. Party conference made its opposition to secret courts plain. Nick sadly had gone so totally native that he thought he could ignore it and so he did. We are all paying a high price for this and other examples of his misjudgements.

  • @David Evans
    Accepted, it should have readthe majority of the Parliamentary Party…

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