Don't Spy on Us response to the draft Investigatory Powers Bill

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published today. Don't Spy on Us have been calling for a new legal framework since the Snowden revelations. Over the next weeks, we will be examining the detail of the 300 page draft to see if it meets our six principles for reform. However, here are initial responses by members of the Don't Spy on Us coalition.

Gabrielle Guillemin, Senior Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19, said:

“Today the Government presented an incredibly complex Bill to Parliament, demanding increased state surveillance powers. With 299 pages, we are concerned that it will not bring the clarity and transparency which we so desperately need in this area.”

“The Bill significantly interferes with freedom of expression and the right to privacy. It is therefore crucial that Parliament closely and thoroughly scrutinises it, with genuine consultation with civil society and experts. It must not be rushed through, as previous laws have been, with little or no consideration.”

Renate Samson, Chief Executive of Big Brother Watch, said:
“The recommendation of a ‘double-lock’ of political and judicial sign off on the most intrusive powers appears to tick the box of independent judicial approval, but in a world which is increasingly connected online the future demands on a Home Secretary's time could become impractical.
“Requests for retention of internet connection records will provide access to the most detailed data on citizens, not just the who and when of a telephone record, but the what and how of the way we live our lives. The guarantee of security to this retained data will be critical. Furthermore, demands on technology companies to adhere to warrants for encrypted data, as well as the power to legally hack into our devices, could create legislative back doors which in a world of increased cyber-attack could make us more vulnerable to crime.
“There is a great deal to be scrutinised in a very short space of time. For this legislation to really be a world leader in how to protect the privacy and security of law-abiding citizens, the Bill will require a thorough investigation.”

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

"The bill will give the intelligence services increased powers to watch us and access our data, despite the apparent concession to one of our key demands – judicial oversight. Not only will this legislation encroach further on our privacy, it will chill our freedom to communicate with each other freely."

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:
“After all the talk of climbdowns and safeguards, this long-awaited Bill constitutes a breath-taking attack on the internet security of every man, woman and child in our country.

“We must now look to Parliament to step in where Ministers have failed and strike a better balance between privacy and surveillance.”

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:
 “This Bill will redefine the relationship between the state and the public for a generation. The government needs to get it right and made sure that the UK's law enforcement and security agencies can fight serious crime while upholding all of our human rights.”

“However, at first glance, it appears that this Bill is an attempt to grab even more intrusive surveillance powers and does not do enough to restrain the bulk collection of our personal data by the secret services. It proposes an increase in the blanket retention of our personal communications data, giving the police the power to access web logs. It also gives the state intrusive hacking powers that can carry risks for everyone's Internet security.”

“The Joint Committee must now listen to the concerns of activists and the public if they are to restore trust in the police and security services.”

Eric King, Deputy Director, Privacy International at Privacy International said:

"The true debate on surveillance can begin today. After years of downplaying, obscuring, and denying the Snowden revelations, the Government has finally entered the conversation. For the first time Parliament and the British public will be able to debate mass surveillance powers like bulk interception, bulk hacking, and the data-mining of bulk personal datasets."

"This Bill will be one of the most important pieces of legislation for a decade to get right for our civil liberties. The UK has an opportunity to create a world class framework, but the current draft is far from this. Key, straightforward safeguards like judicial authorisation that should be uncontroversial, have instead been crippled by internal politics, leaving us all worse off.  Powers for bulk interception that the Government has long undertaken in secret have finally been explicitly avowed, but the case for them remains uncritically examined and evidentially weak. We will continue to trail behind Europe and the US until these issues are remedied."

"It is disingenuous for the Government to say that the Bill does not contain new powers. Existing law does not permit the Government to hack into our computers and retain records of all our internet communications. No other Government in the world has legislated for bulk hacking. No other Government has legislated to retain all our internet records. Other Governments around the world will follow the UK's lead; Britain must not send them in the wrong direction."

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