Exclusive: Clegg ‘hasn’t seen’ snooping bill


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3:41 pm - May 20th 2012

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contribution by Tom Newham

Theresa May might be at pains to persuade us a draft of the Communications Bill isn’t the sort of ‘snoopers charter’ the last government proposed, but she hasn’t yet extended the courtesy of explaining what it might entail to the Deputy Prime Minister yet.

That’s according to the influential anti-snooping Lib Dem backbencher Julian Huppert, who slammed the shadowy approach of the Home Office in an address to a group of Liberal Democrat students at the University of Warwick on Thursday.

Quite who has access to the plans is not known, but it’s clear the DPM hasn’t been enlightened, despite having assured voters he won’t stand for an assault on civil liberties.

A frustrated Huppert let slip that “they haven’t even shown Nick” details of the bill (a draft of which hasn’t been published yet), before criticising the Home Secretary for refusing to provide any substantive details in her appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee last month.

Critics will now be inclined to ask on what grounds exactly the Deputy Prime Minister saw fit to play down the extent of the surveillance proposals, beyond the scraps of information he is allowed by May.

Huppert was keen, however, to re-iterate party chairman Tim Farron’s threat to terminate the bill if it proves to be too authoritarian. “There is no way we will allow something to happen that will make civil liberties worse”, he reassured the students, adding that killing the bill was something “we may still have to do”.

The ‘black boxes’ designed to intercept communications “themselves are a risk”, he explained, in that they provide a clear target for hackers.

One wonders how the Libdem leader will be able to stand up for liberal values in the coming debate on web snooping if, like the rest of us, he doesn’t know with any great certainty what the measures in question are.


Tom Newham is studying History and Politics at Warwick University and writes for The Student Journals

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Reader comments


1. Franklin Percival

If Blair was Bush’s poodle, Clegg must rate as Cameron’s hamster.

she hasn’t yet extended the courtesy of explaining what it might entail to the Deputy Prime Minister yet

Which suggests tio me that it amy contain some pretty nasty stuff.

If it does, and the Lib Dems back an internet snooping bill, then many will be wondering what is the point of them? After all, civil liberties are supposedly a Lib Dem core issue — their core of policies isn’t very big and if they lose that one, is there really any point in their existance?

Lib Dems worried by this may want to consider jumping ship and joining the Pirate Party.Civil liberties on the internet is one issue we will never, ever, compromise on.

It can only be a matter of time before Clegg breaks down in public.

@2 “Civil liberties on the internet is one issue we will never, ever, compromise on.”
Except for the rights of content creators in the wider world, of course.

@3: It can only be a matter of time before Clegg breaks down in public.

lol

Except for the rights of content creators in the wider world, of course.

Content creators will do fine in the new society that Pirates will build, although they will probably use different business models. So musical works and TV programmes might be funded through Kickstarter instead of copyright-based business models. Take for example the TV series Game Of Thrones: that costs 10 episodes at $5 million each, which is $50 million, and I bet you could find 10 million people prepared to crowdfund it at $5 each.

So creators will still get paid. The parasitic copyright industry (RIAA and MPAA) won’t. That’s no loss: the future doesn’t want them, doesn’t need them and doesn’t in fact have a use for them. The only thing they contribute is making society worse. They should crawl into a corner and die like the obsolete dinosaurs they are.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Cherub

“Except for the rights of content creators in the wider world, of course.”

While I’m not backing the pirate party’s position on this, I wouldn’t call this “civil liberties” exactly. Copyright is more of a liberties vs property rights thang.

@3. Cherub

If Clegg does break down, I hope he doesn’t do it in front of Duncan Smith. He’ll be ‘fit for work’ by tea time and stacking shelves in PoundLand b.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is an breakdown incident like Senator Agsby’s ‘Prestagidswick’s Conjenum’ in Brass Eye.

Phil Hunt/4: I bet you could find 10 million people prepared to crowdfund it at $5 each.

These and other optimistic business models… crowdfunding so far seems to have about 1% of the potential audience willing to put money towards it. Maybe slightly more for people with a popular product and a strong track record. So that would imply a total audience in the region of 0.5-1 billion people. It’s popular, but not that popular!

Looking at Kickstarter, all 6 of the projects over $1 million (i.e 2% of the cost of a GoT series) have basically got there by saying “fund this project to produce Xs, and you’ll get an X, possibly at a discounted rate”: three of them have been selling physical objects for which the cost includes a very obvious materials cost; the others have been selling software. It’s not clear to me what “obtain X” reward you’d give to fund a TV show – it can’t be the show itself, because that’s currently given away “free” on broadcast. Those Kickstarters which have gone for a “fund this so we can produce great thing X, for a token reward” have tended to be less highly funded.

(I’m not knocking crowdfunding, by the way – for projects with less astronomical funding requirements, or with a tangible product so the funding is basically “advance orders”, it clearly can work very well – but I can’t see it working for everything)

8. ex-Labour voter

I am not surprised at all.

I think a similar thing happened with Labour MPs over the intelligence on Iraq.
We know that 94 US senators did not read a classified National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq. Senator Bob Graham did read it and it persuaded him to vote against.

As for the Liberal Democrats, they need to start standing up to this government.
I see that one of their councillors in Solihull has just defected to the Green Party.
I can’t say that I blame him.

@7: Looking at Kickstarter, all 6 of the projects over $1 million (i.e 2% of the cost of a GoT series) have basically got there by saying “fund this project to produce Xs, and you’ll get an X, possibly at a discounted rate”: three of them have been selling physical objects for which the cost includes a very obvious materials cost; the others have been selling software. It’s not clear to me what “obtain X” reward you’d give to fund a TV show – it can’t be the show itself, because that’s currently given away “free” on broadcast.

An audovisual production is exactly like (drm-free) software in that once it’s out there, anyone can get a copy without cost.

If it’s possible to fund software this way, it ought to be possible to fund movies etc.

Given some of the things I’ve seen games companies foist on their customers ‘to prevent piracy’ I’m on the side of the pirates tbh. Two DVD drives I lost to the Starforce DRM, cheers Ubisoft.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Cylux

“Given some of the things I’ve seen games companies foist on their customers ‘to prevent piracy’ I’m on the side of the pirates tbh.”

Yeah, but without piracy that wouldn’t have happened. Personally I feel like we’re in the crossfire of a fight between two groups of arseholes.

“Two DVD drives I lost to the Starforce DRM, cheers Ubisoft.”

Yeah, and me not being able to play Dragon Age when the internet is down, because I’ve got DLC on my save file and it claims to be “corrupted” if I can’t connect to Xbox Live. Which is obviously to guard against… what, exactly? Me playing the game I paid for in my bedroom instead of my living room?

@11 Tbh Stardock (not to be confused with starforce!) have proved that if you release (decent) games specifically without copy protection, you’ll still make lots of money and only lose pretty much exactly the same amount of sales that you would have to piracy anyway. (Apparently not treating their customers like thieves till proven otherwise actually engenders some to specifically buy their products because of that)
The main differences being that the pirates haven’t had to work as hard, and you’ve not had to waste money on copy protection that’ll only end up getting beaten anyway.

9/Phil Hunt: If it’s possible to fund software this way, it ought to be possible to fund movies etc.

Movies, sure. Multi-million-budget movies? No-one’s even got close yet.

I would expect to see – in both software and film – considerably more low-budget items and virtually no high-budget items funded through a crowdfunding model. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think crowdfunding is a viable model for multi-million investments for which the output is “free”. Not more than a few a year, anyway.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Cylux

I expect you’re right; my experience of modern PC games is limited in part because of this stuff (the other reason being that I’d rather pay the extra fiver for a console game and know it will actually run). I think the most recent game installed on my PC is Civ3.

But as I said above, console gamers are starting to suffer from this stuff too. Another thing I object to is download-only games being artificially being restricted to one-player by only having a single save file. So if my housemate wants to play Braid, he either has to delete my game, or download it seperately on his own console. It’s not *unethical* exactly, just extremely stingy.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. paul and lynn hewitt

    .@julianhuppert Point of story by @tnewham is that Clegg said snooping bill won't be as bad as Labour's, w/o seeing it http://t.co/dEwqqQEQ

  2. Terri Bennett

    EXCLUSIVE: Julian Huppert MP tells students Nick Clegg hasn’t even *seen* the snooping bill he is defending http://t.co/dEwuYqFK

  3. BevR

    .@julianhuppert Point of story by @tnewham is that Clegg said snooping bill won't be as bad as Labour's, w/o seeing it http://t.co/dEwqqQEQ

  4. Zandy

    EXCLUSIVE: Julian Huppert MP tells students Nick Clegg hasn’t even *seen* the snooping bill he is defending http://t.co/dEwuYqFK

  5. Very Disappointed

    EXCLUSIVE: Julian Huppert MP tells students Nick Clegg hasn’t even *seen* the snooping bill he is defending http://t.co/dEwuYqFK

  6. leespr13

    EXCLUSIVE: Julian Huppert MP tells students Nick Clegg hasn’t even *seen* the snooping bill he is defending http://t.co/dEwuYqFK

  7. NeilCB1

    Exclusive: Clegg ‘hasn’t seen’ snooping bill | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vGQ4CI6Z via @libcon

  8. swaldman

    Exclusive: Nick Clegg 'hasn't seen' snooping bill http://t.co/RXHeEat2

  9. Free Scotland

    EXCLUSIVE: Julian Huppert MP tells students Nick Clegg hasn’t even *seen* the snooping bill he is defending http://t.co/dEwuYqFK

  10. Owen Blacker

    “@libcon: Exclusive: Nick Clegg 'hasn't seen' snooping bill http://t.co/DWAicWdJ” Hmmm… so how did he know we were 'scaremongering'?

  11. Tom Newham

    Exclusive: Clegg ‘hasn’t seen’ snooping bill | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/k183Q8sJ via @libcon





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