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Last active Mar 15, 2016

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Investigatory Powers Bill

Please email your MP

The UK government is currently trying to rush the so-called "Investigatory Powers Bill" [1] through parliament (the bill has its second reading today — 15 March 2016). The bill gives the police, intelligence services and various government agencies wide-ranging powers to collect the internet activity of everybody in the country, hack innocent people's devices in bulk, compel companies to hack their own customers [2], and collect intrusive databases of personal data on innocent people.

It is doubtful whether these powers would make us any safer [3]; but they would make the UK a police state, with a regime of mass surveillance on par with Russia or China. As one MP put it: “Because for the past 200 years we haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it [4].” 200 senior lawyers and barristers have called the bill “unfit for purpose” and “maybe illegal” [5]. The current Apple vs. FBI case in the US is just one aspect of the issues covered by this bill [6]. I think it would be a disaster for a democracy such as the UK to pass this bill in its current form. The rest of the world is watching closely.

I gave evidence to two parliamentary committees about this bill [7,8], and they quoted me in their reports. However, the government has almost entirely ignored the recommendations of the parliamentary committees, and is pushing ahead with a largely unchanged bill, probably hoping that amidst the noise of brexit and budget, nobody will pay attention.

Labour is abstaining from the debate [9], leaving only Lib Dems in meaningful opposition. Please can I ask you to email your MP, whatever their party, and urge them not to rush through this bill, but to make sure it is properly debated and the concerns from parliamentary committees and expert witnesses are addressed. This bill is not some technical geekery -- it has profound implications for democracy and human rights.

You can easily email your MP at this website: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/investigatory-powers-bill-campaign/

Thanks! Martin

References:

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/mar/01/the-snoopers-charter-is-back-video-explainer

[2] http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500278518/New-UK-law-will-criminalise-failure-to-hack-on-demand

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/julian-huppert/investigatory-powers-bill_b_9453578.html

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/08/david-davis-liberty-draft-investigatory-powers-bill-holes

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/14/investigatory-powers-bill-not-fit-for-purpose-say-200-senior-lawyers

[6] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/14/snoopers-charter-apple-fbi-bill-hacking-gagging

[7] http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/investigatory-powers-bill-technology-issues/written/25146.pdf

[8] http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/draft-investigatory-powers-bill-committee/draft-investigatory-powers-bill/written/26275.pdf

[9] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/14/lib-dems-attack-gutless-labour-surveillance-bill

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