UK Leaders Look To Sneak Through Broad Data Retention Bill With No Debate
from the because-they-can dept
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.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:
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.
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.