Senior politicians unite to issue call for data bill

 

Watch Allegra Stratton's full BBC Newsnight report on the significance of this united call for further monitoring powers

Senior politicians from across the political divide have united to call for UK security services to be given greater internet monitoring powers.

In a letter to The Times newspaper three former Labour home secretaries, three senior Tories and one Liberal Democrat urge changes.

They say "coalition niceties" must not hinder counter terror efforts.

A bill allowing the monitoring of all UK citizens' internet use was dropped after Liberal Democrat opposition.

However, following the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich there have been calls for the Communications Data Bill, dubbed the "snoopers' charter" by opponents, which was shelved in May to be revived.

Start Quote

Coalition niceties and party politics must not get in the way of giving our security services the capabilities they need to stay one step ahead of those that seek to destroy our society”

End Quote Quote from letter issued by Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Lord Baker, Lord King, and Lord Carlile

The letter was signed by former Labour home secretaries Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson, along with former Conservative home secretary Lord Baker and defence secretary Lord King, and Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile, who until 2011 was the independent reviewer of government anti-terror laws.

In issuing the letter Mr Straw teamed up with Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston North and parliamentary aide to minister without portfolio Ken Clarke. As a parliamentary aide Mr Wallace must not differ from the government position.

The letter, which was passed to Newsnight and which will be published in The Times on Friday, puts renewed pressure on the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, whose party claimed a month ago they would not allow the bill to become law while the Liberal Democrats were in government.

It also shows support amongst backers of the bill is undiminished, despite claims British security services used information gathered on UK citizens by Prism - the US secret intelligence programme revealed last week.

Instead, referring to the recent murder of Drummer Rigby, they write: "When such a threat reveals itself, government has a duty to ensure they can do all they can to counter it."

Without Liberal Democrat support in parliament, the Conservatives alone could not get the bill on to the statute book, but this letter is the first sign that Labour politicians are prepared to combine in principle with the Conservative party to help ensure the security services are given the new powers.

In an attack on Liberal Democrat opposition, they write: "Coalition niceties and party politics must not get in the way of giving our security services the capabilities they need to stay one step ahead of those that seek to destroy our society."

They also accuse the Liberal Democrats of siding with the interests of large communications companies, writing: "We find it odd that many critics of the Bill prefer to champion the rights of corporations over democratically accountable law enforcement agencies."

Speculation is mounting in Westminster that to avoid complicated votes in parliament, measures will be brought forward by Home Secretary Theresa May that are not presented in a formal bill, but instead use other means of achieving the same ends.

People on laptops The shelved Communications Data Bill would allow access to all Britons' web browsing history

The Communications Data Bill would have given police and security services access, without a warrant, to details of all online communication in the UK - such as the time, duration, originator and recipient, and the location of the device from which it was made.

It would also give access to some details of Britons' web browsing history and details of messages sent on social media. The police would have to get a warrant from the home secretary to be able to access the actual content of conversations and messages.

In April, Mr Clegg told his weekly LBC radio phone-in: "What people have dubbed the snoopers' charter - I have to be clear with you, that's not going to happen."

"In other words the idea that the government will pass a law which means there will be a record kept of every website you visit, who you communicate with on social media sites, that's not going to happen. It's certainly not going to happen with Liberal Democrats in government."

"We all committed ourselves at the beginning of this coalition to learn the lessons from the past, when Labour overdid it, trying to constantly keep tabs on everyone. We have a commitment in this Coalition Agreement to end the storage of internet information unless there is a very good reason to do so."

But in the letter the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat grandees say: "Far from being a 'snoopers' charter', as critics allege, the draft bill, seeks to match our crime fighting capabilities to the advances in technologies.

"The proposed Communications Data Bill does not want access to the content of our communications but does want to ensure that enough data is available in the aftermath of an attack to help investigators establish 'who, where and when' were involved in planning or supporting it."

 
Allegra Stratton, Political editor, Newsnight Article written by Allegra Stratton Allegra Stratton Political editor, BBC Newsnight

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 221.

    The British people never asked for multiculturalism, but in order to keep the experiment on the road, we're told we have to give up our ancient rights and freedoms.

    We've already lost our freedom of speech to politically correct "hate speech" laws, now we're loosing our basic right to privacy.

    An attack on the liberty and dignity of the British people by political elites unified against them.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 220.

    212.tightheadprop
    Couldn't it just be that you and your pub friends are just ignorant of history and ignorant of civil rights?
    Perhaps the "people on the net" against this are inherently more intelligent than your "pub friends" and actually have a clue. Can you tell me what a VPN is? How about literature encryption? Do you know that monitoring will not prevent real terrorism?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 219.

    Apart from this travesty of trust in a so called modern democracy....the data will not be secure.
    Governmental institutions do not do secure, to many low level dimwads have access to central data bases to warrant high encryption redundant due to practicality.
    Everything about you and your family will be hung out there for anyone with a modem and little knowledge can pluck like ripe fruit.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 218.

    216. baz
    Not too bothered if you get killed but I think there are a lot of people who might want to carry on living.
    ---
    If living involves surrendering all of my liberty to a government that I didn't vote for then I would not call that living.

    I want to live but only if I live free. If you are happy to be a slave then that is for your own conscience to rationalise.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 217.

    I'm intreagued as to why my comment that terrorism to adults and children is unacceptable. Received so many negative votes. Why do so many people support legislation that supports abuse and terrorism of children and of vulnerable adults? Somebody please explain to me why theses are okay.

  • Comment number 216.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 215.

    For some bizarre reason and without my knowledge, my email account fired off 3 old emails today. Rather opinionated ones at my MP, the Guardian and the Mayor of London. I am telling you this just in case overnight I get bundled into a van and subject to rendition.

    I am now thinking MI5 must have had them stored in some kind of buffer ;)

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 214.

    This just more proof that the terrorists have won.
    So many millions of people owe their jobs and their power to Osama Bin Laden.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 213.

    "The proposed .. Bill does not want access to the content of our communications but does want to ensure that enough data is available in the aftermath of an attack to help investigators establish 'who, where and when' were involved in planning or supporting it."

    . and provide enough information so that our friends in the media industry can track down file-sharers. See recent quote by Culture Sec

  • Comment number 212.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 211.

    Also, just to remind y'all, that we have not had a Prime Minister with an electoral mandate since His Tonyness.

    So since 2007 we have had a PM who was not voted for by the public.

    That's 6 years of unelected leadership.

    Demanding more power.

    Unbelievable.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 210.

    >203. david
    >So. I'm living in an 'Orwellian hellhole' (post 146).
    >Someone (post 175) has spotted parallels with Nazi Germany.
    >Didn't seem like that in Tesco's today.

    It didn't in 1930s Germany or 1984's farmyard to the 'ignoranti', either.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 209.

    As the public / electorate become more aware of what is really going on - realising democracy is an illusion - the tighter the cabal will enforce its grip over the masses. These events will become more and more commonplace, and sadly there is little that can be done. Even when the scandal of Targeted Individuals eventually hits the headlines, which it will, its too late. The Official Secrets Act.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 208.

    Now we are beginning to see why the immense and sustained push of CCTV was all about and why people were fed misinformation about it by government and media.

    And look how they spy on our road movements now.......

    www.bigbrotheriswatching.co.uk

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 207.

    Senior politicians from across the political divide have united to call for UK security services to be given greater internet monitoring powers.

    As a member of the electorate I want full monitoring powers of all MP’s and Lord’s, phone calls, e-mails, letters, meetings, internet browsing, expense claims and other income to make sure that they are not still fiddling.

  • rate this
    -25

    Comment number 206.

    I have no problem wih monitoring... Although I wonder whether some jobsworth might overreact to my use of child porn sites.....
    Yes that comment was ironic - but we need as a society to understand that survailance is acceptable provided the crimes involved are below a certain threshold of social acceptability. We have to be clear what that thereshold is. Terrorism to adults & kids is not.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 205.

    If this happens, I will cost the gov 1000's with the data I'll create. They will need a new hard-drive every day.

    A word of warning for everyone reading these comments. Research the potential for abuse and the surveillance capabilities behind these new SMART meters they want in everyones homes. It's not just the internet we should be worried about.
    Good to see so many oppose this in the comments.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 204.

    Absolutely not going to happen there will be riots if this goes through.
    Civil unrest and a backlash that these bozos could never imagine.

    Deep shame on Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson.

    This must not happen, and why should it, the murder in Woolwich would not have been stopped by this abomination of paranoid delusion.

    No no no...not in my name!.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 203.

    So. I'm living in an 'Orwellian hellhole' (post 146).
    Someone (post 175) has spotted parallels with Nazi Germany.
    Didn't seem like that in Tesco's today.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 202.

    You know I am more afraid of my own government than the terrorists.

    No amount of government intrusion into our public life could prevent terrorist attacks and as such any attack on our liberty should be viewed as far more heinous than any terrorist attack.

    Freedom requires sacrifice and I would sooner die in a terrorist attack than live in a police state.

    What gives them the right?

 

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