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Investigatory Powers Bill: please email your MP

5 comments

This is an email from Martin Kleppmann who knows his stuff when it comes to technology unlike anyone in political office today.

Please consider dropping your MP a line or sharing this more widely.

Our future is at stake.

The government is currently trying to rush the so-called “Investigatory Powers Bill” [1] through parliament (the bill has its second reading today). The bill gives the police, intelligence services and various government agencies wide-ranging powers to collect the internet activity of everybody in the country, hack innocent people’s devices in bulk, compel companies to hack their own customers, and collect intrusive databases of personal data on innocent people.

It is doubtful whether these powers would make us any safer [2]; but they would make the UK a police state, with a regime of mass surveillance on par with Russia or China. As one MP put it: “Because for the past 200 years we haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it [3].” 200 senior lawyers and barristers have called the bill “unfit for purpose” and “maybe illegal” [4]. The current Apple vs. FBI case in the US is just one aspect of the issues covered by this bill [5]. I think it would be a disaster for a democracy such as the UK to pass this bill in its current form. The rest of the world is watching closely.

I gave evidence to two parliamentary committees about this bill [6,7], and they quoted me in their reports. However, the government has almost entirely ignored the recommendations of the parliamentary committees, and is pushing ahead with a largely unchanged bill, probably hoping that amidst the noise of brexit and budget, nobody will pay attention.

Labour is abstaining from the debate [8], leaving only Lib Dems in meaningful opposition. Please can I ask you to email your MP, whatever their party, and urge them not to rush through this bill, but to make sure it is properly debated and the concerns from parliamentary committees and expert witnesses are addressed.

This bill is not some technical geekery — it has profound implications for democracy and human rights.

You can email your MP easily at this website:
https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/investigatory-powers-bill-campaign/

Thanks!
Martin

References:

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/mar/01/the-snoopers-charter-is-back-video-explainer

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/julian-huppert/investigatory-powers-bill_b_9453578.html

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/08/david-davis-liberty-draft-investigatory-powers-bill-holes

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/14/investigatory-powers-bill-not-fit-for-purpose-say-200-senior-lawyers

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/14/snoopers-charter-apple-fbi-bill-hacking-gagging

[6] http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/investigatory-powers-bill-technology-issues/written/25146.pdf

[7] http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/draft-investigatory-powers-bill-committee/draft-investigatory-powers-bill/written/26275.pdf

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/14/lib-dems-attack-gutless-labour-surveillance-bill

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5 responses to “Investigatory Powers Bill: please email your MP”

  1. Mark Littlewood says:

    Update. Automated response. Yes, I am pretty sure you are my MP.

    Thank you very much for your email. This acknowledgement has been triggered electronically and I have not yet had a chance to read your message but I wanted you to know that your email has been received safely.

    I receive a large number of emails, letters and phone calls each day and deal with enquiries in turn, so please do not be disappointed if you do not receive an immediate response.

    If you live in Cambridge please ensure that you have included your full name and postal address in your e-mail. If not, please resend with the information as this will speed up a reply.

    Please note, there is a Parliamentary convention within the House of Commons that MPs can only take up cases on behalf of their own constituents. You can check on http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ to see if I’m your MP.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Daniel Zeichner
    Member of Parliament for Cambridge

  2. Mark Littlewood says:

    Reply from Daniel Zeichner.

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill.

    I appreciate that a number of organisations have expressed concerns regarding proposed changes to surveillance and data retention laws, and because I take a particular interest, I attended an individual briefing with the Home Secretary where I raised my concerns directly with her.

    It is crucial that our surveillance laws are proportionate – the starting point should be that as citizens we should not have to fear that our communications are being monitored or watched. Of course we need to make sure that effective measures are in place to meet the potential terrorist threats that Britain faces and to counter new and growing threats such as cybercrime. As technology has developed I believe that new powers are needed in this area, but that we also need proper checks and balances to make sure these powers are used properly and not abused. I believe that the Government is going too far with their combination of the Investigatory Powers Bill and the Extremism Disruption Orders which could together be used to limit the individual liberties of ordinary citizens.

    Following the publication of the Government’s Bill, which has now been introduced to Parliament, I have a number of concerns. Firstly, instead of tightening the criteria for the use of the most intrusive powers, the Bill appears to lower the threshold and allow the authorities to access them in a much broader range of circumstances. I do not believe that the Government has adequately justified this extension to date, and this is something that I will be pressing.

    Furthermore, the widening of access to Internet Connection Records (ICRs) in the Bill is a particular area of concern and it will be important for Parliament to consider whether the powers in relation to the collection and use of ICRs are proportionate and justified.

    This legislation will have major implications for privacy, and how we are governed and policed. It is, therefore, crucial to take time to get this right and I believe it is important to take a responsible and constructive approach in working with the Government on this issue.

    The Bill is now scheduled to have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons today and I can assure you that I will be following the debate around these matters and the progress of the Bill very carefully. I will not be supporting the Bill as it currently stands, as I explained to the Home Secretary directly.

    Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

    Yours sincerely,

    Daniel Zeichner
    Member of Parliament for Cambridge
    @DanielZeichner
    http://www.danielzeichner.co.uk

  3. Mark Littlewood says:

    My request for clarification:

    Thank you Daniel,

    Appreciate the rapid response.

    The Bill is now scheduled to have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons today and I can assure you that I will be following the debate around these matters and the progress of the Bill very carefully. I will not be supporting the Bill as it currently stands, as I explained to the Home Secretary directly.

    Will you be following or actively engage in opposing the Bill?
    Can you clarify whether ‘not supporting’ means you will (a) vote against or (b) abstain?

    Thank you.

  4. Mark Littlewood says:

    Dear Mark,

    I will not be opposing the Bill at Second Reading today, but I do believe it needs to be robustly challenged and improved in a number of key areas in the weeks and months to come. It will be up to the relevant committee to amend it and Labour’s Shadow Home Affairs team will be pressing the Government to make the changes I highlighted in my original response.

    Yours sincerely,

    Daniel Zeichner
    Member of Parliament for Cambridge
    @DanielZeichner
    http://www.danielzeichner.co.uk

  5. […] shout out is due to Cambridge’s Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, who said he wants to “robustly challenge” the bill… but abstained […]