Take action on new surveillance bill

By   November 12, 2015

The Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new surveillance law last week. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) brings more legal transparency but could actually increase mass surveillance in this country. Immediately after the Home Secretary announced her Bill, Andy Burnham – her opposite number in the Labour party –  spoke positively about the Bill. He welcomed the introduction of judicial authorisation for surveillance warrants and said that the House of Commons should send out a message that this Bill does not permit ‘mass surveillance’.

But he was wrong. It does.

  • It allows GCHQ to continue collecting huge amounts of everyone’s Internet traffic under programs revealed by Edward Snowden. These powers should be reined in not maintained
  • It extends the state’s powers by forcing Internet Service Providers (like Talk Talk, Sky and Virgin) to store a record of every website and mobile app we’ve visited in the last 12 months for the police to use
  • It forces businesses to assist with with intercepting our communications – which many people say may mean encryption being compromised, or security tools weakened
  • It allows the Security and Intelligence agencies to store and access the phone records of the entire country

As for judicial authorisation, Labour wrote to the Home Secretary a few days after the Bill was published to say that it was not nearly as good as they had understood at the time. [1] It looked like judges were just going to be able to rubber-stamp the Home Secretary’s decisions.

It is worrying though that Labour rushed to praise the Bill. They have to do a better job of scrutinising the Bill.

You can email your MP here to give them your views on the Bill:

MPs will likely vote on this in the spring. A joint committee of MPs and Peers will start scrutinising the Bill soon. Importantly, the members of these committees are not working in a bubble. They listen to colleagues and their leadership. You can help influence them by asking your MP to talk to members of those committees.

We all need to start talking to MPs now to show that their constituents, us, are paying attention to this and that they should too.

You can tell your MP why they should be concerned about the Bill here:


[1] Andy Burnham letter to Theresa May on draft investigatory powers bill


Cross-post from Open Rights Group.

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