UK Leaders Look To Sneak Through Broad Data Retention Bill With No Debate

from the because-they-can dept

Remember last year when the UK loudly rejected an attempt by the government to create a “Snooper’s Charter” that would give the government much more power to sniff through everyone’s private data? This was the law David Cameron insisted was needed based on crime dramas he watches on TV (how do these people get elected?).

You may also recall that, earlier this year, the European Court of Justice found that the EU’s Data Retention Directive was invalid as a breach of “the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.” Just a few weeks ago, we noted that the UK government had told telcos to ignore that ruling and to carry on retaining people’s data. It appears that telcos told the UK government to pound sand, and David Cameron and his friends are now using that as an opportunity to rush through a version of the Snooper’s Charter, requiring internet companies to retain data.

Member of Parliament Tom Watson raised the alarm about this yesterday, detailing how the government was trying to rush through a broad bill in near secrecy:

If you look on Parliament?s web site tonight, you will not see the name, nor the text of the Bill to be considered.

None of your elected backbench MPs have been told what Bill is to be debated on Monday. It?s Wednesday evening. Tomorrow, MPs are on a ?one line whip? ie they can return to their constituencies this evening.

Imagine how outrageous it would be, if tomorrow, the government were to announce emergency legislation to an empty chamber. Imagine if that emergency legislation was to be introduced on Monday or Tuesday, with the intention of it slipping through the Commons and the Lords in a single day. Imagine if that Bill was the deeply controversial Data Retention Bill.

It?s a Bill that will override the views of judges who have seen how the mass collection of your data breaches the human rights of you and your family.

And that’s what’s happened so far. Early this morning, the draft of the bill was released, entitled the “Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill,” or DRIP. Think of it as drip, drip, dripping away your privacy and civil liberties. As people reading through the bill have noted, it’s quite clear that it goes much further than just dealing with the “fallout” from the European Court of Justice ruling. In particular it has this rather open ended clause that appears to give the government the power to effectively change the rules at will:

The Secretary of State may by regulations make further provision about the retention of relevant communications data.

The government is trying to calm people down about this by first setting up a “Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board” (PCLOB) modeled after the PCLOB in the US, and will also include a “transparency” report. But the bigger claim they have is that this is just a “temporary” thing with a sunset provision:

The laws will expire in 2016, requiring fresh legislation after the election. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act will be reviewed between now and 2016 to make recommendations for how it could be reformed and updated. Lib Dems insist the new legislation does not represent an extension of existing surveillance powers or the introduction of the snooper’s charter.

Except, if you’ve paid any attention at all, you know damn well that these sunset clauses almost never work. It’s much, much more difficult to get rid of a bad law once it’s in place. And when it comes to things like surveillance, every time the renewal period comes up, politicians go on a FUD rampage about how many people will die if the government can’t keep searching through all your data.

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Comments on “UK Leaders Look To Sneak Through Broad Data Retention Bill With No Debate”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agree. This is not a police state. It is a state within the state. The law enforcement and military/surveillance has as much if not more power over politics than the elected politicians. They are getting these gifts because the international cooperation between these institutions are seen as more important than concerns over civil liberties.

Today governments are to some extend powerless towards international pressure. If international cooperation institutions require something whether it is new laws or more freedom from political and public interference consider it done!

Governments are too weak to fight the international organisations today and they are afraid of saying the truth about why they do not fight it and hide behind the bureaucracys opinions and formulatiopns to avoid a political critique. The largest problem is of course the very limited coverage of and transparency in these international institutions, but that is another issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

(how do these people get elected?).

Because of the strong grip on politics held by political parties, and the strong grip on the parties of their central committees. Over the years the party conventions have changed from being genuine forums for political debate to a means whereby the party leaders tell the troops what the policies will be. This has allowed people from the totalitarian end of the spectrum to gain control of the parties, and make them only attractive to toadies, and those who want an opportunity to climb the greasy pole of politics to where they can start making policy.
It is now time to vote for any candidate who is leaning towards libertarian or anarchist policies, not because you necessarily agree with them, but because they are likely to actually listen to the people, and are likely to roll back the states powers.

Anonymous Coward says:

1.2.e Make different provision for different purposes

Talk about broad, you could take that to mean literately any thing.

I know people want the government to move faster on some stuff but there really should be a minimum amount of time between announcing some thing and being able to vote on it. Given it being debated on Monday you would be lucky to get a letter to your mp in time even with first class post. Certainly not enough time for them to actually read any feed back from their constituents.

Anonymous Coward says:

List of offenders.

There needs to be a public list of the people who are responsible for this garbage in both the UK and the US.

It is easy to forget who these people are as time passes.

Lets not make the mistake of those hunting nazis after ww2. If the citizens has started a list of the criminals, it would have made their job much easier.

It doesnt matter if they go to jail or are hanged for treason against the citizens today or 30 years from now as long as it happens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: List of offenders.

If they don’t soon stop the assault on the public, the old way of “listing” public offenders might come back into vogue.

I’m talking of course, about the old sure-fire method of insuring that the public remembers the faces of major bad guys, by putting their heads on pikes along main thoroughfares.

Anonymous Coward says:

Basing a law entirely on what you saw on a TV crime drama, what could possibly go wrong there?

Oh right, CFAA is what could go wrong…

(For those who don’t know, CFAA was enacted into law after a popular Hollywood movie where hackers hack into our nuclear arsenal and start WW3. Clips from the movie were even shown in congress as an example of the bad things that could happen if we didn’t pass CFAA)

Dave says:

Charmless nurks

Are we all not living on the same planet? Do the so-called people in power who produced this load of insane cobblers also not mind having THEIR personal and private information rifled through by these “national security” clowns? I’m sure David Cameron wouldn’t mind me having his bank details. After all, he has nothing to fear if he’s doing nothing wrong. I despair at the way these elected buffoons don’t seem to be serving the very public that elevated them to the positions they now occupy but just decide (on a whim it would seem) to suddenly go about their own agenda without so much as a nod to Joe Public.

GEMont (profile) says:

Designed to fail.

Any institution that remains intact for more than ten years will automatically attract criminals who want to use its good name and reputation as a front for their illicit operations.

Churches, Charities, Banks, Corporations, Governments, any institution that deals with capital or public control, will fall to this same entropic degeneration, where its stated purpose for existence is replaced with a determined effort to prevent its own dissolution and expand its control for the benefit of its members.

In my opinion, the measurement of an institution’s corruption is simply the duration of its continuing failure to accomplish its stated goals.

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