I utterly condemn the UK coalition government’s use of emergency powers to rush through parliament the new, controversial Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill.
I condemn the intentionally undemocratic method by which the snooping bill is being passed, by staging a “theatrical emergency” to rush it through parliament thus avoiding its scrutiny and any public debate. There is no emergency. The British government is using emergency powers disingenuously to hide months of secret, back room talks since April when the European Court of Justice ruled that such data retention violates our basic rights to privacy and personal data protection. I entirely condemn the response of the British government to that ruling, which seems to be to undermine the democratic process in addition to violating our rights.
In addition to falsely claiming that the country is facing an emergency, the British government is using misleading rhetoric about what the data retention law actually means for the public. In his announcement on Thursday, 10 July 14, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that without this bill the country would “leave a means of communication for paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals to communicate with each other that, in extremis, we cannot intercept”. Whilst we are all keen to see such serious criminals brought to justice, Mr Cameron’s statement is misleading on two counts. Firstly, the Prime Minister is using emotional rhetoric around paedophilia and terrorism to justify a law that will in fact collect private data of the entire British public – not suspects of serious crime. This rhetoric is exploitative and offensive. Secondly, law enforcement agencies already possess the capability to conduct extensive and forensic surveillance, even retrospectively, once a warrant has been sought.
I would urge concerned citizens to lobby their MP to reject this bill by email, phone and on social media, urgently.
You can easily email your MP via the Open Rights Group’s campaign page https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/no-emergency-stop-the-data-retention-stitch-up
If you wish to email your MP directly, you can find their contact details here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
This is my letter to my MP.
URGENT: Reject the Data Retention Bill
Dear Simon Kirby MP,
I am writing to you, as a constituent, to urge you to vote against the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill.
At the government’s design, you have been unable to fulfil your duty to scrutinise this bill. The government has staged a “theatrical emergency” to rush the bill through parliament thus avoiding its scrutiny and any public debate. There is no emergency. It is evident that the government is using emergency powers disingenuously to hide months of secret, back room talks since April when the European Court of Justice, responding to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations, ruled that such data retention violates our basic rights to privacy and personal data protection. I would urge you not to undermine the democratic process by voting in favour of a bill that has not been subject to your full scrutiny or proper public debate, that lacks mandate or legitimacy, and that violates my legal right to privacy.
Although party leaders have spoken extensively about mass surveillance with regard to suspects of serious crime, they have not explained why it is now lawful or legitimate to violate the privacy of law-abiding citizens like myself. I am aware that law enforcement agencies already have the capability to conduct extensive and forensic surveillance, even retrospectively, once a warrant has been sought for such suspects of serious crime. I do not believe that rights should be violated by treating all British citizens as suspects too.
I eagerly await your response on this urgent matter.