Paddy Ashdown on snoopers’ charter: Politicians in a democracy must guard our freedoms

Paddy Ashdown took part in a Guardian Live event the other night, talking to Andrew Rawnsley in Bristol. The subject of the new Investigatory Powers Bill, son of Snoopers’ Charter, came up. Paddy knows about this kind of stuff. He said:

We charge the intelligence services with keeping us safe, so of course they want the maximum amount of power. But the job of a politician in a democracy is to be jealous about giving away those freedoms, and to do so only when it’s necessary. You have to make judgments as to how much infringement of the liberty of citizens there is.

He talked about the safeguards that citizens need to protect their freedoms:

The principles that applied in the past ought to apply now. For one of these well-meaning and extremely diligent post office engineers to steam open your letter, you had to be a target: a specific person to whom the security services applied to look at your communications,” he says. “In the case of the interception of communications of a citizen of this country, the level of evidence necessary should be agreed, validated and authorised preferably by a judge, or in some circumstances by a minister of the state accountable to parliament.”

Taking a wider look at the implications of increased surveillance he said: “We’re fighting these battles [against terrorism] for the preservation of our liberties and our freedoms. If we give those away wholesale as I’m afraid we will in these circumstances, then we are allowing the terrorists to win the battle without a single shot.”

 And came up with a fairly radical idea:
If we were to introduce a law that says every citizen owns their own data, and if you want to use it, you must ask them and pay them a share of the profits, you have completely altered the relationship between these great mega-corporations and the individual. You’re empowering the individuals. Every man and woman can be a lord and master of their own data.

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  • nigel hunter 13th Nov '15 - 10:59pm

    This idea of Paddy’s should be part of policy.

  • Like Paddy’s idea, needs further exploration.

  • Today, 14 Nov, I attended the regional conference for the South West. Paddy was our first speaker, where he reiterated this idea. (as always, a very entertaining and informative speech, thank you Paddy ) He is passionate about the desire that each citizen should own their own data and he is right to be passionate. It is a very liberal idea and fits perfectly with LibDem ethos. I am sure he will drive this through to be a flagship policy for us.
    Furthermore, it is an ideal idea to be enshrined into European Law.

  • >”And came up with a fairly radical idea:…”

    Not radical, just restating current practise! For example, Microsoft will let you use Windows 10 for free (which is effectively a profit share) for the use of all your data you make accessible to this system. Similiar “profit sharing” agreements apply to: Facebook, Apple, Google etc.

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