LibLink: Brian Paddick – Tackling terrorism without compromising the privacy of law-abiding citizens

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Lord Brian Paddick talks through the recent attempted jiggery-pokery in the House of Lords which could have seen the Snoopers Charter entering law by the back door, and celebrates the Liberal Democrats’ success in defeating that attempt:

Having spoken to the police officers who recovered the bodies of those murdered by terrorists on the London Underground on 7 July 2005, I know the devastating consequences of failing to disrupt terrorism.

In the House of Lords this week, four peers from across the political divide proposed new data security measures be introduced as an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

This group, comprising of a former police chief, a former Intelligence Minister, a former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism legislation and a former Foreign Secretary proposed introducing a so-called Snoopers’ Charter.

Thankfully, and following pressure from the Liberal Democrat benches, the amendment was withdrawn.

I spoke in yesterday’s (Monday 2 February) debate, as I did in last week’s debate on the same issue, arguing against them and here’s why.

These amendments would have given the Home Secretary the power to order communications service providers to keep whatever data about our internet activity she happens to think is, or may in the future be, useful to the police or the security services.

Anyone in these organisations could make a request for the data, which could for example include every website you have visited over the past 12 months, without a court order, without your knowledge and on the basis of suspicion rather than evidence.

A joint committee of both Houses of Parliament said of the clause in the Data Communications Bill that these amendments replicate, was far too broad, did not have sufficient safeguards and the costs could potentially be prohibitive. In short, it was disproportionate.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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11 Comments

  • Jenny Barnes 4th Feb '15 - 12:19pm

    A no 91 bus was attacked by a tree in London 2 days ago. The result ripped the roof off, very like the pic above.

  • David Faggiani 4th Feb '15 - 2:12pm

    Yes Jenny, I thought the same thing when I saw the photo, weird photo choice synchronicity.

  • http://news.sky.com/story/1419850/five-hurt-as-london-bus-roof-ripped-off

    I seem to remember that campaign “Plant a tree in ’73” coincided with intense IRA activity in London.

  • Jenny Barnes 4th Feb '15 - 4:37pm

    Naughty trees. Gchq need to monitor them.

  • Jenny Barnes how can you mock what happened on this bus?

  • I think we have a skewed view of terrorism in our society. We seem to be concerned more with the cause than the effect. Only if a terrorist act is committed by Islamic extremists or Irish nationalists, or some other such group, is there outrage and widespread fear.

    In the middle of last month, a public building in Oxfordshire that housed two local councils was burnt to the ground by an act of deliberate sabotage. As far as I know, that was the first time that a major public building in this country had been targeted and destroyed in that way. It was an attack on democracy that went to the very heart of the way we are governed. But what was the response? The Police assured us that it was not an act of terrorism, so there was no need to worry. The politicians said zero, and the press gave it minimal attention.

    Why? If the effect is the destruction of a major public building, and the disruption of its functions, why does it matter that the perpetrators were not what the Police, politicians and media call “terrorists”? The effect is the same as if it had been “terrorists”, so what is so key about the cause?

    Remember, remember Crowmarsh Gifford. I fear it is a sign of things to come. The phenomenon is known as “leaderless resistance”, and no amount of snooping by MI5 is going to stop it.

    Now, I have a confession to make. I work in local government, and I know that very little effort is made to protect me from leaderless resistors, or indeed terrorists that the Police, politicians and media recognise as such. This afternoon, just as I had walked through the atrium to the stairs, I heard a man shouting and swearing at the front door. One of the security guards managed to get rid of him, but if he had been carrying an automatic rifle, as his equivalent in the USA probably would have been, I might not be sitting here writing this post.

  • A Social Liberal 4th Feb '15 - 10:39pm

    I concur with Anne.

    Today is the anniversary of another bombing on another bus. 41 years ago a coach carrying soldiers and their families was blown up on the M62 by the Provisional IRA killing nine soldiers including Cpl Haughton, his wife and his two children. Over 50 people were injured, many of them seriously.

    Making fun of terrorist incidents is, quite simply, wrong. It is wrong no matter the perpetrator, no matter the victim.

  • A Social Liberal 4th Feb '15 - 11:13pm

    Sesenco.

    The whole point of a terrorist act is to terrorise and by terrorising, to disrupt. Arson attacks on a funeral parlour, a thatched cottage and the council offices have not had that effect. I might have had more sympathy with your position if the attacks had happened at a time when the buildings were fully occupied as it could have been that the perpetrator wanted to dissuade people from working there – since it happened at three in the morning this cannot be the case.

  • I agree with Anne.

  • A Social Liberal wrote:

    “Arson attacks on a funeral parlour, a thatched cottage and the council offices have not had that effect.”

    I disagree. If burning down an old lady’s house while she is still inside it is not terrorising someone, then I do not know what is. The attack on the council offices has had a very serious impact in terms of the provision of services locally, the raising of anxiety levels among local government employees generally, the the possible chilling effect that it might have on local government decision-making.

    “I might have had more sympathy with your position if the attacks had happened at a time when the buildings were fully occupied”

    Would you argue that the 1978 IRA ttack on Greenwich Gasworks was not terrorism because it was perpetrated at night when no-one was working there?

  • Malcolm Todd 5th Feb '15 - 1:45pm

    I was completely unaware of the events in Oxfordshire. Even now it seems that apart from the immediate trickle of reports on the day and the following day (after a man was arrested) there is nothing more up to date online. How peculiar. Sesenco is quite right that the media response to this is bizarrely low-key. Perhaps the chief difference is that it didn’t happen near enough to London to matter?

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