Tag Archives: Investigatory Powers Bill

Alex Carlile leaves the Liberal Democrats Lords Group: Why now?

The news that Alex Carlile is going to sit as a crossbench peer rather than a Liberal Democrat is perhaps not surprising.  His views on civil liberties and his passionate advocacy for the state to have greater surveillance powers often put him at odds not just with the Lords group but with the wider party. PoliticsHome says:

Lord Carlile felt the party “was not taking a strong enough line in support of surveillance,” a senior Lib Dem source told PoliticsHome.

“He was unhappy with our stance on the Snooper’s Charter,” the source added. “We made a big thing about voting against the Data Communications Bill and he didn’t like that at all.”

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “We are disappointed but not surprised at Lord Carlile’s decision.

“He has been at odds with party policy on a number of occasions in recent years, especially over civil liberties.

“We are grateful for his years of service to the party and wish him well in future. “

Why now, though? Nothing has really changed. He’s had these views for a very long time and the party has opposed them for a very long time.  I have certainly thought for some time that it would be better if he was a cross bencher but I didn’t have any expectation that it would happen. In fact, for even voicing such an opinion, I was accused of “grisly soviet intolerance” by the Noble Lord in the comments to that article. 

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Paddick: EU court ruling on surveillance shows that Government overstepped the mark

When the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act was just a Bill being rushed through Parliament with indecent haste, the pros and cons were hotly debated on this site.Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that the general and indiscriminate collection of data was illegal.

Now, this was a Bill passed by the Coalition Government with Liberal Democrat consent So shouldn’t we be feeling a bit embarrassed by this ruling? I guess we need to look at the position we were in at the time. Even if we’d told the Tories that we wouldn’t support the legislation, there would have been a majority in the House of Commons for it. In fact, Labour would have been falling over itself to make it even more authoritarian.

We also know what the Tories wanted to do with communications data – because they did it with the much more pervasive and illiberal Investigatory Powers Act passed, again with Labour support, as soon as they had a majority.

Back in 2014, we secured some important concessions from the Tories in return for our support on the DRIP Act.  Julian Huppert wrote at the time that it was what we already had but with additional safeguards as he set out the context to it all:

There is an issue we have to deal with now. The European Court of Justice threw out the European Data Retention Directive, which underpins all collection of communications data in this country. I sympathise with the reasons, but we must acknowledge that it causes real problems – we do need to have some way to keep some communications data, but under very careful control.

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LibLink: Julian Huppert “The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill is about to become law – here’s why that should terrify us”

Julian Huppert MPJulian Huppert has written a powerful piece on Open Democracy.  He writes:

The Investigatory Powers Bill is sneaking up on the final steps before it becomes law – something that should terrify all of us.

Some of the powers in the Bill are deeply intrusive, and with very little possible justification. All of us want to be safe, and protected from terrorists and the like – but the evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. However, the cost to all of our privacy is huge.

For example, a power the state never had before is to require a log to be kept for a year of every website we ever go to. Just think of that – your browsing history stored, just in case it’s ever useful. If you ever choose to visit a depression support website, would you want that to now be logged, potentially revealing your mental health state? What about an abortion advice site? Marriage guidance? Why does the state need to know this about every one of us?

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Show me yours – and Labour doesn’t care

As the Snoopers’ Charter, sorry Investigatory Powers Bill, starts its final stage in the Lords today, have a look at this video from Liberty which gets over the intrusive nature of this illiberal measure.

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Alistair Carmichael MP writes: Snoopers’ Charter debate was a circle of Hell even Dante could not have imagined

This week in Parliament we debated the Investigatory Powers Bill or, as some would have it, the Snooper’s Charter take 2. It was two days of my life that I will never have back and, after fifteen years as an MP, it was two of the most depressing days I have known. Being an MP is a great job and when parliament works as it is supposed to it can be exhilarating. When it fails to do what it is elected to do, namely to hold the government of the day to account, then it is hell. The debate on this bill took us to a new circle of hell that even Dante could not have imagined.

The Bill is rotten to its core and I wish we could have blocked it as we did in Coalition when faced with the Communications Data Bill. Dealing with Tories in government was difficult. Dealing with Tories in government and Labour in opposition is impossible.
We had two days to debate hundreds of amendments in the House of Commons. The government alone brought forward one hundred and four amendments on the first day and a further twenty on the second. After all the amendments the provisions on bulk data collection and the retention of “internet connection records” are not even half-baked. They are raw.

You would have thought that this would be grist to the mill of any decent opposition. You would be right in that. Unfortunately we don’t have a decent opposition, we have the Labour Party. There was not a single amendment in the whole two day debate on which Labour considered worthy of voting. For two days they were absent from the voting lobbies. We did get a little excited on day two when we heard through the usual channels that they were “going to vote on something”. We need not have got our hopes up – it turned out that “something” was a third reading of the bill (ie on the bill as a whole) and the vote they cast was to support it.

For our part, despite our overarching opposition to the Bill we had tabled a raft of amendments in an attempt to make the Bill a little less awful. The SNP took the same approach. I will not bore you with them all but give you a flavour below.

First, I proposed – and pushed to a vote, an amendment which would have deleted provisions in the Bill for the introduction of the collection and storage of Internet Connection Records (ICRs). Now, I’m not yet 100% clear what an internet connection record is. Nobody is – even the Home Secretary. I surmise that it will probably be your web history. This will then be stored for 12 months just in case you ever come under suspicion. Meanwhile, that information can be hacked and stolen revealing an enormous amount of detail about your life, activity and even your state of mind. I knew that when I pushed the amendment it would not pass. Andy Burnham the shadow Home Secretary had already said that whilst he accepted that ICRs were incredibly intrusive and might not even be helpful in solving crime he supported their collection in principle (God alone knows what the principle was but by this time I had given up on trying to understand the Labour Party’s position).

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Snoopers’ Charter back in the Commons

The Snoopers’ Charter, as the Investigatory Powers Bill is colloquially known, returns to the House of Commons over the next couple of days.

As you would expect, Alistair Carmichael has been working on many sensible amendments to the Bill which are supported by Liberty. It is also good to see that the SNP been on this as well. I was none too pleased when they didn’t oppose the Bill at Second Reading when there was a chance to kill it for good and even more worried when it wasn’t singled out for mention in the SNP’s Holyrood manifesto, unlike many …

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The Snoopers’ Charter: A government invasion?

During coalition we blocked the Snoopers Charter. The bill, resurrected under the name of the Investigatory Powers Bill, shows the intent of the Tory Government – to degrade all forms of privacy we once held dear.

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LibLink: Julian Huppert on criticisms of the Investigatory Powers Bill

 

Three parliamentary committees have now reported on the Home Secretary’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill. All three have raised major criticisms of both the powers proposed and the way they are set out.

That is the opening paragraph in an article by Julian Huppert posted on OpenDemocracy titled Three strikes against the IP bill.

He quotes the reports by the Science and Technology Committee on 9th February, by the Intelligence and Security Committee also on 9th February and finally by the Joint Committee with the remit to examine this bill which reported on 11th February. All were highly critical of various aspects of the Bill, and of the second in particular he claims that:

The proposals around communications data are described as “inconsistent and largely incomprehensible”.

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