Vote on Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, Tuesday 2 December

Ms Meg Hillier MP House of Commons London SW1A0AA

Dear Ms Hillier,

I was disappointed that you chose to support the Government in voting for the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), despite the fact that it possibly violates human rights legislation.

I hope that you will choose to take a different position in the vote on tomorrow’s Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. Unlike DRIPA, there is no excuse that the Bill has to be rushed through without proper scrutiny. Therefore you have a chance to reject legislation that apparently endorses legalised repression and indiscriminate surveillance and probably violates human rights legislation. I urge you to do so.

There is no doubt that people who wish harm the UK or other liberal states are using the internet to talk to one another. But that is no reason to construct legislation that places ill-considered demands on internet service providers and web site owners to act as adjuncts to the police force. Likewise, there are people who don’t accept that democracy, the championing of free speech and the acceptance of social diversity which we champion in the UK is the best way to achieve political change. These people are using and will continue to use mortal violence against civilians, here and abroad, to try to force such changes. But that is no reason to adopt coercive measures that could themselves critically damage those democratic rights to free speech and diversity in the UK.

Should MPs vote for laws that erode our freedom of expression, we will cease to be a valid democracy. Should MPS vote for laws that turn commercial services online into amateur policemen, those services will cease to provide the economic and social goods that have made them so valuable across the full diversity of cultures in the UK. Please oppose the Bill.

Following the vote on DRIPA there were many who, like me, received letters from Labour MPs that gave every sign of having been been drafted in a central office for distribution to constituencies. I am sure that those people believe as I do that the repeated attempts of Government to rush through ill-informed and potentially unenforceable legislation should be given a thorough and personal critique by members of the opposition such as yourself. This is not a matter to be shrugged off with copy-and-paste correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Published on 01/12/2014 at 23:54 by Technophile, tags ,

Dear Home Office: please reconsider the Communications Data Bill


Dear Madam/Sir,

I am disappointed to hear that the Communications Data Bill as drafted is likely to be included in the Queen's Speech on 8 May.

The arguments that have been advanced in favour of this legislation are not balanced by provisions to protect civil liberty. In fact, the legislation will establish a situation in which everyone's communication history is stored on the offchance that in the future they will become a suspect in a criminal investigation, which is tantamount to treating the whole population as criminal suspects.

Such an assumption is not only deeply offensive but reflects a paranoid view on the part of the Bill's authors that the general public should never share. It denigrates our human rights and reduces our capacity to treat others with respect and dignity.

The Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill believe that there is a case for legislation that helps law enforcement, but they also believe that the draft Bill needs to be rewritten to refine its provisions. 

The Committee's Chair said: "we feel that there is a case for legislation, but only if it strikes a better balance between the needs of law enforcement and other agencies and the right to privacy"

On a technical level the legislation will represent an opportunity for a few individuals to profit at the expense of the state, collecting information that will in most cases never be used. It will be a burden on internet infrastructure that is likely to increase the cost of communications and thus chill the economy. This is not an appetising prospect either.

I hope that the decision to include the badly-framed Bill will be reconsidered in the light of continued opposition. My local MP is copied into this email. Perhaps it is one that law enforcement agents would do well to retain rather than destroy.

Yours sincerely,

Published on 24/04/2013 at 11:52 by Technophile, tags , , ,

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