Tag Archives: ripa

Opinion: Snoopers Charter about to resurface

Negotiations are currently taking place deep within the coalition that could change our relationship with the internet forever.  The second draft of the Data Communications Bill, or Snoopers Charter is currently being negotiated and if it’s anything like the 1st draft that was rejected in December, it could effectively spell the end of privacy as we know it on the internet.

The Data Communications Data Bill will force internet service providers and other internet businesses to collect and store all of your electronic communications for at least 12 months.  This will include all your emails, websites you’ve visited, Skype calls, social media, telephone calls etc.  …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Communications data: we have to get this right

Many years ago my father gave me some advice: ‘don’t get it right, get it written’. If you want to do something properly you need to have a draft. That way you can go back and improve it.

Today sees the publication of the Draft Communications Data Bill. It is a first version, not a final text, and one which will be given the time and proper processes to change. It’s hard to overemphasise how different that is to the usual Parliamentary process.

A special Select Committee will go through the issues raised in the Bill, and make suggestions on how to improve it. I’ll be on that Committee, and between now and November we will be asking experts and members of the public to comment on it, and suggest where it needs to be changed.

It’s thanks to Lib Dem pressure that we now have a vital opportunity to get this right. If left to itself, the Home Office would simply have announced this Bill – or something worse – as a fait accompli, and whipped people to support it. Nick Clegg intervened to stop that from happening.

And already the Draft Bill is better than the one the Home Office proposed, as revealed a few months ago. Already there are more safeguards than there were going to be – but we are not there yet.

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Julian Huppert MP writes: What does the Queen’s Speech mean for civil liberties?

So – how does the Queen’s Speech rate for those of us who care about civil liberties? Well, there’s some excellent news, and some areas where we need to keep working to get the right result.

First, we have fantastic news about libel reform. I am delighted that the Defamation Bill will finally come into being. As Liberal Democrats we have long made the case that our libel laws are out-dated and in desperate need of improvement.  Our current system unfairly favours the rich because the cost of lawsuits means ordinary people find it very difficult to defend themselves against false …

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Tom Brake MP writes… A landmark achievement in fight for our civil liberties

Today the Protection of Freedoms Bill became an Act: a landmark for the campaign to roll back Labour’s surveillance state. Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for this piece of legislation, proposing a “Freedom Bill” more than five years ago when Nick Clegg was the party’s Home Affairs Spokesman.

The Act will protect millions of people from unwarranted state intrusion in their private lives, building on some of the things we’ve already achieved like the ending of ID cards and the destruction of the National Identity Register.

I just want to highlight a couple of things that will now happen. …

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The Interception of Communications Commissioner has failed

I’ve been reading through all the annual reports issues by the Interception of Communications Commissioner since the passage of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. He is meant to make sure that the powers granted to public bodies under RIPA to intercept our communications are being used correctly.

The annual reports are not a pretty read, especially when set against a modicum of knowledge about the outside world during the years the reports cover. Consider the following.

1. No scrutiny of the costs system

First, under RIPA there is provision for the government to pay communication service providers costs for meeting the …

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Liblink: Paddy Ashdown says Snoopers’ Charter breaches the Coalition Deal

Writing in today’s Times, former leader Paddy Ashdown, a key ally of Nick Clegg, has condemned Government’s proposals to increase internet surveillance and warned that we must not “part company with our principles.”

He wrote:

The Government claims that it will have unfettered access only to “data” (ie, sender, recipient, time and duration) rather than content, so this does not constitute “a communications interception”. That is sophistry.

It is one of our rights as free citizens to talk to whom we wish, when we wish and wherever we wish without the State knowing about it, unless there is good cause for it to

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Why RIPA is flawed

Greg Callus’s excellent post dissects in documented detail some of the problems with the RIPA regulatory mechanism – and why therefore simply extending the range of data that can be accessed under RIPA would be extending the range of data that can be accessed without proper control.

In particular:

Sometimes, there isn’t time for a written request because of an imminent threat to life and limb, and so the Urgent Oral procedure kicks in – the SPoC will normally be rudely awoken by a police officer explaining they have (eg) an urgent terrorism/kidnapping situation, and they need a notification to be

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An open letter to Lib Dem party president, Tim Farron: Concerns over our liberal identity and mission in government

The following letter, written by Martin Eakins a Lib Dem councillor in Manchester and co-signed by more than 150 fellow party members, has been sent to party president Tim Farron:

Dear Tim,

We understand that the leaked policy on RIPA internet surveillance is now being reviewed more thoroughly, rather than rushed into the Queen’s speech. As such we would like you, as our president, to convey the following thoughts to appropriate Liberal Democrat ministers.

The Home Secretary wrote in the Sun on Tuesday that “Only suspected terrorists, paedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated.” This is akin to saying “if you’ve

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Opinion: Time for a deal on surveillance

Like many of my fellow Lib Dems I have had steam coming out my ears these last few days after reading over the weekend that the Coalition was considering the mass, unchecked surveillance of the entire population’s emails, telephone calls, texts and tweets, as well as messages sent through Facebook and through games consoles like the Xbox.

Initial attempts at comforting growing rage amongst Lib Dems – the fact that there was to be no central database and that the contents of communications would still only be viewable with a …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Safeguards to control state surveillance

Stories came out yesterday, leaked as ever from some unknown source, which have led to justifiable outrage about proposals to capture all our online communications. We all know that one shouldn’t entirely trust what is in newspapers, especially when the security services are involved and there is a palpable lack of detailed announcements, but liberals everywhere are rightly anxious.

I’m extremely concerned about the extension of state surveillance, and have fought hard to stop it. Since I first got wind of the proposals in 2010, I’ve had a series of meetings with industry experts and others about it. I asked the Prime Minister about it in October 2010 and, while the details remain cloaked, I have some idea of what might be proposed.

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Tom Brake writes: The Freedom Bill is a staging post towards an even freer society

The Freedom Bill is clear evidence of the Liberal Democrats setting the political agenda and making a positive difference to how we live in Britain.

It’s our robust answer to unwelcome and unwarranted intrusions into our everyday lives. It starts the dismantling of an overbearing surveillance state and restores British civil liberties that we used to be able to take for granted.

At the heart of the Bill is a commitment to safeguarding and protecting individuals and national security. What has felt to many like an obsession of the state to monitor our every waking moment is broken down by the …

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Anti-terrorism review: 6 questions to judge the government by

With the publication of the government’s anti-terrorism review just about to happen, and likely to include a large number of details, what are the key points to look for in judging how the review has gone?

So far, we know one outcome – the reduction in the maximum period people can be held without charge from 28-days to 14-days (which is in line with the Liberal Democrat manifesto). Yet to be published are the plans on control orders (the abolition of which has been another key Liberal Democrat demand) and on a host of other anti-terrorism legislation.

What to look out for

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Jo Shaw writes: Counter Terrorism and Security Review latest

The long awaited outcome of the review of counter-terrorism and security powers is to be announced this week. Already last week, the expected and widely trailed outcome was confirmed that the length of time for pre-charge detention has been halved from 28 to 14 days – this 28 day power will lapse on Tuesday. It now appears that Theresa May will announce the outcome of the review on Wednesday, after Cabinet presumably discusses the issue on Tuesday.

The most thorny issue for the Liberal Democrats is what will go and what will remain of the highly controversial Control Order regime. David …

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More details published of Government’s review of anti-terrorism powers

A Home Office news release tells us:

The Home Secretary has announced today that a rapid review of key counter-terrorism and security powers is underway. The review will look at what counter-terrorism powers and measures could be rolled back in order to restore the balance of civil liberties and counter-terrorism powers…

The review will look at six areas:

• the use of control orders;

• stop and search powers in section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography;

• the detention of terrorist suspects before charge;

• extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign

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What they said about RIPA at the time

It’s March 2000 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill is going through Parliament. Then Home Secretary Charles Clarke is defending the Bill during its second reading. Reading the views expressed by Conservatives in the debate shows up an interesting split: some MPs concerned about civil liberties but also some pressing for the powers to be made much more widely available. For Liberal Democrat MPs, the concerns are about the scale of snooping the Bill will permit and the controls over it.

But all would be fine according to Charles Clarke:

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[email protected]… Terry Stacy: Councils must be transparent and accountable about surveillance

Well, it’s not quite an op-ed article, but there’s a detailed letter from Lib Dem leader of Islington Council, Cllr Terry Stacy, urges all councils to follow Islington’s example, and reject the local use of surveillance powers. Here’s an excerpt:

… local government really is on the frontline of Britain’s expanding surveillance state – councillors and council leaders need to be held accountable for their decisions. Councillors must decide whether they embrace the surveillance society, or reject it and introduce checks and balances and public democratic oversight of the local use of surveillance powers, as the Liberal Democrats have done

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Opinion: RIPA – Lib Dems are leading the way in improving scrutiny of council surveillance

As the latest series of reality show Big Brother graces our TV screens, I wonder if all those millions of viewers remember that – 60 years since George Orwell published 1984 – we are increasingly living in a Big Brother Britain?

As the new leader of Islington’s Liberal Democrat council I wanted us to do our bit in rolling back the surveillance state that has been growing up around us under twelve years of Labour Government. That’s why I’m following the example of other Liberal Democrat councils like Oldham in making the council’s use of its investigatory surveillance powers more transparent, …

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Lib Dem councillor reveals Lancashire Town hall uses anti-terror laws to snoop on cleaners

The Mirror reports the news:

Laws designed to fight terrorists and gangsters have been used by a council to spy on its cleaners.

It was revealed yesterday that town hall bosses employed the draconian measures over 500 times, including one occasion to snoop on bus drivers.

Lancashire county council’s tactics were uncovered by Lib Dem Mark Jewell who branded them “an abuse of power.”

Using Freedom of Information, he found out county hall chiefs in Preston ordered surveillance on the cleaners to check if they worked the right hours.

Mr Jewell discovered they frequently used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act between 2001 and

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Opinion: Lib Dems must lead the way in improving scrutiny of council surveillance

Media coverage of the abuses by various councils regarding the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) has been very welcome. Conversely, it has unfortunately meant that (at least from my experience) whenever it is brought up at council, those who dare scrutinise the usage of this law are dismissed as bandwagon-jumpers who simply wish to capitalize on the media orgy against council surveillance.

This is why I brought a motion to Liberal Youth Conference in February that was passed unanimously to make restrictions on the legislation party policy; and Liberal Youth subsequently chose for it to go …

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A small victory on council snooping

It’s not all bad news this week, though. Local councils’ use of surveillance powers, which have been notoriously misused to investigate offences like dog-fouling and lying about your school catchment area, must now be sanctioned by elected councillors “or senior officials”.

This is being headlined by some as a “ban” on snooping, but that’s not what it is. It’s at best a hopeful sign of increased accountability. My joy is guarded partly owing to the “senior officials” rider, and partly because the whole idea falls short of the Lib Dem proposal to require a magistrate’s

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Huhne attacks RIPA snoopers’ charter: “the Government’s surveillance society has got out of hand”

Today’s Times reports:

Councils are to have their powers to snoop on the public severely curtailed. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will signal government plans today to reverse the expansion of the surveillance society amid growing alarm at the extent of official spying.

And not before time, for as the paper reports elsewhere:

A survey by the Liberal Democrats found that 182 of the 475 local authorities in England and Wales had authorised the use of Ripa powers on 10,288 occasions in the past five years.

It found that 1,615 council staff have the power to authorise their use

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Taking action on RIPA – what Oldham has done

From their press release:

STATEMENT RE: COUNCIL USE OF SURVEILLANCE LAWS

Councillor Howard Sykes, leader of Oldham Council said: “Following a recent review of the council’s use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, elected members are now consulted before the act is used in Oldham. This gives the council an additional level of oversight, something that most other council’s in the country do not do …

“During an inspection on 1 January 2009, by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, the government body appointed to oversee those allowed to commission surveillance, all of the council’s authorizations for surveillance were lawful.

“We will

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Nine out of ten people spied on by local authorities are innocent

From today’s Daily Mail, following up the story about the widespread using of snooping powers by councils (as covered yesterday by Home Office Watch):

Nine in ten of 10,000 spied on by councils using anti-terrorism powers are innocent
The revelation intensified the controversy over local councils using anti-terror powers to spy on those suspected of ‘crimes’ such as putting their bins out on the wrong day.

The legislation, which allows secret filming and even the trailing of suspects by undercover officials, has been used by councils at least 10,333 times over the past five years…

Others targeted under the Regulation of Investigatory

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