It seems that the fight against the ‘snoopers charter’ rages on. In a letter to The Times, signed by Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Lord Baker, Lord King and Lord Carlile, called for the ‘snoopers charter’ to be revived. The intention of the letter seems to be to put increasing pressure on Nick Clegg to drop his opposition to the draft Bill
In the letter, the group state that “coalition niceties 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”.
It should be remembered that several of the signatories to this letter argued that ID Cards, 90 day detention without trial and a million innocent people on the DNA database were all necessary to keep us safe. Fortunately the Government did not succumb to their scaremongering on those issues, and nor should it on the question of whether in modern Britain we want the state to be undertaking blanket monitoring of our emails, web browsing and social media messages .
Last week it was revealed in Parliament that the Home Office was not even using e-mail to send legal requests to the US, resulting in significant delays. Sadly this letter fails to explain why the signatories were happy to handicap British law enforcement with such an antiquated legal process when they were in office.
The group also state that: “Far from being a ‘snoopers’ charter’, as critics allege, the draft bill, seeks to match our crime fighting capabilities to the advances in technologies.” It should be remembered, and the group fail to mention it in their letter, that the UK already received more communications data from internet companies than many other countries. For instance, the UK received more information from Skype than any other country in the world.
Australia’s Attorney General abandoned plans for similar legislation because it was trivial to circumvent, while the bill would also not deal with encrypted services, which include nearly all the major social networks, most email providers and a significant volume of internet traffic. Given the choice, the public would rather have better trained police officers making use of the huge amount of data already available than see billions poured into yet another Whitehall IT disaster.