On How UK's Political Elite Shoved Through A Data Retention Bill
from the dangerous dept
As Watson notes, there's no reason to nitpick about what's in the draft bill, because it's basically guaranteed to become law at this point:
The bill was published in draft form a few hours ago. It's pointless attempting to scrutinise it because, thanks to the secret deal, we know it will be law by the end of next week.However, he notes that the bill clearly expands surveillance of the public, in direct contrast to what the EU Court of Justice ruling, which "prompted" this new law, said:
The judgment said the previous legislation was not "necessary and proportionate". The draft bill does use these words, but it's barely a nod to the court's requirements. The judgment said clearly that the mass retention of the data of every citizen was not proportionate. This legislation ignores this, allowing its retention for 12 months.The really damning point is that this is just a bunch of political elites agreeing to spy on the public... because they can:
The bill says that new regulations may be passed to restrict the use of retention notices, but these are not set out. And these new restrictions won't be passed by all parliamentarians but as statutory instruments through small committees of a select few MPs.
While the Lib Dems can spin as much as they like that this isn't the draft communications data bill, this is clearly a light version of it which ignores the ruling of a court on fundamental rights and extends surveillance powers overseas. The party spent the day crowing about the concessions granted to civil liberties groups such as Don't Spy on Us, but the concessions aren't even in the bill. We have to trust this government to deliver these concessions. Is this a game we should be willing to play?Larry Lessig has long pointed out that when governments act this way, the public trusts them less and less, and their actual mandate to govern is made much less powerful. Of course, when they can snoop on all of your communications, what do they care?
Yet the details are irrelevant. A secret deal between elites has removed the possibility of parliamentary scrutiny and engagement with civic society. The bill, warts and all, will be law next week. Theresa May has in the past stood strongly for the idea of policing by consent. What a shame she doesn't think the same principles apply to our security services.
The party leaders will get their way next week, but the price will be further erosion of the authority of our political institutions. Today parliament feels a little further away from our citizens.