The sudden appearance of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill and the proposal to bulldoze it through Parliament in a few days has set off alarm bells for many who care about civil liberties.
Members of the Liberal Democrat leadership and Parliamentary party have been out and about pressing a three stranded argument to try to counter the view that their support for this Bill represents a complete abandonment of the party’s principles.
The three strands are that:
- The Bill does no more than re-establish the status quo ante, following the adverse ECJ ruling on the legality of the previous legal framework.
- The Bill therefore does not represent an extension of powers and is in no way comparable to the Snoopers’ Charter that the party rightly opposed only a few months ago.
- The party has won valuable concessions in terms of constraints on, and oversight of, snooping activity, which would not have happened without hard work on the part of the Liberal Democrats. These concessions include a sunset clause to repeal the Bill in December 2016.
It seems appropriate to make three points in response. [Read more…]