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.

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

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • 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.

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.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

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 ...?


Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Aug - 4:42pm
    Tony, Your assuming a GNU would be government as normal it wouldn't. Power would have move to Westminster and to the civil service. I suspect...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 18th Aug - 4:32pm
    The first thing which has to be agreed is should there be a general election or referendum. I think a referendum would be more popular...
  • User Avatartom Arms 18th Aug - 4:13pm
    David and Robin, It would be nice if China embraced democracy. The problem is that it has no history of representative government and -- as...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Aug - 4:02pm
    I should add that the Tory Club where your Dad went for a mid-meeting pint is now a mosque...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Aug - 3:57pm
    Mike MacSween: your Dad used to go to the Tory Club round the corner (with one two of his Labour mates) for half an hour...
  • User AvatarSandra Hammett 18th Aug - 3:34pm
    Allow me to quote from obscure philosopher Monty Python's work; the Life of Brian. The People's Front of Judea: Brothers, we should be struggling together!...
Sun 18th Aug 2019
Sat 24th Aug 2019
Thu 29th Aug 2019
Mon 9th Sep 2019