Labour joins Libdems in opposing snooping bill


by Sunny Hundal    
8:00 am - December 11th 2012

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Labour will reject the current ‘snoopers charter’ bill because it will give far too much power to the Home Secretary.

The move was announced last night and will come as a surprise to many who expected the party would join the Conservatives in passing the bill.

A statement from the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the Joint Committee Report on the Draft Communications and Data Bill shows the government was “making a complete mess” of the issue.

It is important that the police and security services can keep up-to-date with modern technology, but this bill is too widely drawn, is unworkable and gives far too much power to the Home Secretary without proper safeguards.

As the Committee’s report makes clear this gives too much wide ranging power to the Home Office, provides too little protection for people’s privacy, and no proper safeguards over cost. It is astonishing that the Home Office have had so little discussion with the internet companies who need to deliver this legislation. The Government have been slipshod with this bill from the word go.

As the Guardian reports today, Nick Clegg is planning to tell Theresa May: “We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Theresa May had hoped to draw support from Labour to pass the bill without Libdem support. That option has now been ruled out if the bill remains in its current form.

Today’s report is withering in its condemnation.

The Joint Committee believes that if Clause 1 of the draft Bill – which, as currently drafted, gives the Home Secretary sweeping powers to order the retention of any kind of communications data by any communications service provider – is narrowed, and safeguards are put in place to ensure that any new powers are not abused, a new Bill could be introduced that would work.

Is Labour being political opportunistic or does this represent a shift in its attitude towards civil liberties? It’s probably too early to say.

But it’s worth noting that when he announced his bid for leadership of the Labour party, Ed Miliband and Diane Abbott were alone in acknowledging that the previous government had gone too far in undermining civil liberties.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Civil liberties ,News

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Reader comments


Yes, let’s welcome this as the right thing to do and hope its a change from past authoritarianism rather than simply being opportunistic.

The Government have been slipshod with this bill from the word go.

I don’t think it is too early to call this opportunism, not a change of heart.

A commitment to repeal RIPA and the Terrorism Act might convince me they’re the least bothered about either civil liberties or poorly drafted legislation.

Surprise indeed! I wish it was for real heartfelt reasons rather than realigning for the next election though.

Opportunistic hypocrites. Looking at their track record they’ll change their tune again when they get into power, just like the current bunch of liars.

Face it, as soon as any of these weasels gets into power they cannot resist the siren call of yet more data collection. Yet more intrusion, yet more data collect all in the name of “terrorism”, “safety” or “kiddie fiddlers”.

Is Labour being political opportunistic or does this represent a shift in its attitude towards civil liberties? It’s probably too early to say.

Labour’s ‘commitment’ to civil liberties has always been inversely proportionate to the power they hold.

Got to agree with the above posters. Simply amazing how keen on civil liberties politicians become when they are not in power. Once their backsides are sitting in a ministers chair and the securocrats get a hold of them. Well, the civil liberties concerns become rarer than a spare hole on an Eric Pickles belt.

With the majority of posters above.
Lib/Lab – opportunistic hypocrites both.

@pagar #2:

A commitment to repeal RIPA…might convince me they’re the least bothered about either civil liberties or poorly drafted legislation.

What purpose would that serve?

never really got this, the bad guys will be using encryption etc and the gov will be left with buckets loads of useless data.

@Barry

Except that the Lib Dems were committed to civil liberties outside of government and are showing themselves to be just as committed to civil liberties while in government. You can make an argument that Lib Dems are hypocrites on many issues but you can’t possibly claim that civil liberties is one of them.

@4: Opportunistic hypocrites

You’re right. But I’d rather people do the right thing for the wrong reasons, than not at all.

Are UK liberty, Shatterface, Nick Cohen, Martin not so Bright, Henry Porter and others critical of this legislation.
I wonder what they would have said if Labour would have drafted the bill.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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