Coffee House

Govt keeps Snooping Bill campaigners in the dark

19 April 2013

9:13 AM

19 April 2013

9:13 AM

It’s not looking good for the Snooping Bill. The legislation is currently being re-written after serious concerns were raised with the first draft, but I’ve got hold of a letter from privacy campaigners which accuses the government of failing to hold the public consultation that was one of the conditions laid down in the damning report that killed off the first draft. The letter, from Big Brother Watch, Liberty, Open Rights Group and Privacy International, expresses fears that meetings between the organisations and Home Office ministers could be used as evidence that ministers have been consulting on the new legislation. It says:

‘In evidence to the Joint Committee it became clear that your officials regarded discussions with some organisations as consultative when those organisations did not. We would like to take this opportunity to make clear that it would be inaccurate to describe any meetings with our organisations thus far as consultative on the detail of any future legislation.’

The organisations claim that they have never been given ‘any detail of what the “new” Bill will include, only assurances that the draft bill had been significantly re-written’ and that ‘lacking any substantive detail of what the revised bill will include, we do not consider the meeting consultative’.


If the Home Office cannot prove that it really has carried out proper consultation on the rewritten legislation, chances are it will fail to make it into the Commons again, because, as I explained last week, Nick Clegg continues to insist that he will veto the Bill if it doesn’t meet all the conditions laid out by the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill.

The Home Office insists that it has consulted extensively on the plans. A spokesperson tells Coffee House:

‘This legislation is vital to help catch pedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals. The government is determined to legislate to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to have the access to the communications data they need.

‘Few bills have been subject to as much scrutiny and consultation. In addition to full pre-legislative scrutiny, which gave the public and experts the chance to feed in their views, all key groups with an interest have been consulted and Parliament will be able to debate the revised bill.’

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Show comments
  • Mike Palmer

    All this will do is create many many more suspects to investigate, &, if recent terrorist atrocities (e.g. 7 July & the Boston marathon attacks) have taught us anything, it is that the authorities simply don’t have the resources to investigate every single person on the radar.

  • Smithersjones2013

    ‘This legislation is vital to help catch pedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals.
    Oh Puhlease. Do the Home office seriously expect us to believe that terrorists , pedophiles and other serious criminals will not adapt their behaviour in order to avoid being caught through this legislation? Frankly it is quite pathetic that the Home Office keep peddling the same nonsense. This Bill is a complete waste of money and frankly when the Home Office is slashing police funding such a waste of time and resources is intolerable!

    Its pure 1984 control freakery nothing more…….

  • david

    You can always rely on the Home Office to do one thing and the complete opposite at the same time.

    The spokesperson cited in the article says: This legislation is vital to help catch paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals. The government is determined to legislate to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to have the access to the communications data they need.

    So why has the Home Office stated: Public authorities were not expressly invited to apply for access to communications data. The names of those groups of public authorities who have provided further information about their requirement for ongoing access to communications data are listed below:

    1. Ambulance Services
    2. Department for Business, Skills and Innovation
    3. Charity Commission
    4. Civil Nuclear Constabulary
    5. Criminal Cases Review Commission
    6. Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
    7. Department of Agriculture & Rural Development in Northern Ireland
    8. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
    9. Department Of Enterprise, Trade And Investment For Northern Ireland
    10. Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland
    11. Department of Health – Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
    12. Department for Transport – Accident Investigation Branches and Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
    13. Department for Work and Pensions (including in relation to functions formerly the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission)
    14. Environment Agency
    15. Financial Services Authority
    16. Fire & Rescue Services
    17. Food Standards Agency
    18. Gambling Commission
    19. Gangmasters Licensing Authority
    20. Health and Safety Executive
    21. Independent Police Complaints Commission
    22. Information Commissioner
    23. Local Authorities
    24. Maritime and Coastguard Agency
    25. Ministry of Justice (NOMS and Contracted Out Prisons)
    26. NHS Services
    27. NI Office (Prison Service)
    28. The Office of Communications (Ofcom)
    29. Office of Fair Trading
    30. Pensions Regulator
    31. Ports Police – including Dover and Liverpool
    32. Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI)
    33. Royal Mail
    34. Serious Fraud Office
    35. Scottish Environment Protection Agency
    36. UK Border Agency – including Border Force


    • Colonel Mustard

      You forgot one – 37. Uncle Tom Cobley.

  • Tom Tom

    How will they catch the “paedophiles” INSIDE the “law-enforcement” agencies ?

  • SimonToo

    If the catching of terrorists ranks of lesser importance than catching paedophiles (I take it that the Home Office did not mean to rank catching terrorists after catching American pedophiles [? pedofiles]) is there really sufficient justification for the bill’s assault on the liberties of the subject?

  • telemachus

    Boston and continuing revelations such as the BBC Rolf item this morning should emphasise the critical importance of this legislation

    • HookesLaw

      Boston – terrorists striking at the bleeding heart liberal centre of America.
      What makes liberals think they are impervious to being blown up?

    • Tom Tom

      Yes, pressure cookers should be chipped and monitored as should fertiliser plants in Texas. The town of West suffered more damage than Boston

    • James Strong

      What an unusaully large load of tosh in such a short comment from Telemachus.
      You can only have 100% security at an event like the Boston Marathon if everybody stays at home, and even a lefty can see the paradox there.
      Monitoring everyone, including me, is too high a price to pay. And determined bombers would just avoid all electronic communication and could just resort to slipping notes hand-to-hand in crowds.
      As for Rolf Harris, he hasn’t even been charged yet. Let’s presume innocence.
      Surely I can’t be the only person uneasy about ‘historic’ abuse.
      If a woman comes forward and says that I abused her when she was passed out drunk at a student party 30 years ago how can I defend myself against that allegatuion, even though it isn’t true.
      Be very, very careful about these allegations of long-ago offences.

      • telemachus

        Yes James I recall the rumours about that student party, are you going to fess up or should we be contacting Yewtree on your behalf?
        You know well that is not the point. Most paedophiles exist as part of a vile network that share internet files. The police hands cannot be tied

      • telemachus

        Apols for the irony but the point surely is that we can devise a system where those of us with nothing to hide can go about our life and those who threaten us are targeted

        • Tom Tom

          They had just such a system in Germany 1933-45 when the Prussian State Police were expanded through Germany – GEheimeSTAatsPOlizei was its name…..part of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) and it fulfilled the expectations of the policy you espouse

          • telemachus

            Howeve we are a free country and parliament can have a gauleiter responsible to parliament not the government.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Define ‘nothing to hide’ – UKIP membership? That personal information targeted an ordinary couple who probably also thought they had ‘nothing to hide’. Also you cannot guarantee that the government does not and will not ever threaten us.

          Yesterday I read a comment on a blog that suggested being right-wing was ‘shameful and wrong’. That is where this is all headed, not towards terrorists or paedophiles, but towards notions of how one should think and of suppressing dissent. The first steps in that direction have already been taken,

          • telemachus

            See above
            The Czar in charge will be responsible to parliament
            NOT the government

    • Colonel Mustard

      A very silly comment, even for you. James Strong’s response and your reply to him shows you up for the unpleasant mischief maker that you undoubtedly are.

      • telemachus

        The comment was irony and misunderstood

  • HookesLaw

    It is looking good for criminals and terrorists to hide their tracks – aided and abetted by a self serving press. And hysteric loons.

    • Tom Tom

      Terrorists run circles around the Plods by using old technology and not bothering with wizz-bang rubbish. They still haven’t cracked the hawala banks and have no real luck with steganography but cracking the PGP coding on your Internet Banking is ideal from their standpoint with Sucker Customer being liable and unaware his security is compromised. How many already run third party software script inside the so-called secure area of the login ?

  • Russell

    Im surprised ‘Hacked Off’ haven’t insisted on being consulted and involved in drafting any new legislation as they seem to think that although they are not the elected government, as the opposition similarly aren’t the elected government, it is groups such as theirs with labour backing who should determine laws in this country!.
    At least labour MP’s are elected and therefore can justify voting on new laws, although consultation with the government is really up to the government if they want all party agreement.

  • ProffessorPlum

    “This legislation is vital to help catch pedophiles”

    That should be ‘paedophiles’.

    That will be revolutionary.

  • Bert3000

    The Home Office’s contempt for our freedom makes them the greatest threat there is to me and mine. It’s amazing that they think they can get away with such pathetic lies about ‘pedophiles and terrorists’.

    This part of government desperately needs real reform and the idiotic May really isn’t up to it.

    • gladiolys

      Thank heavens the ECHR is there to protect us from this lunacy.

    • Simon Semere

      Lucky for them there’s been no media coverage on this bill, I’d love to see the public reaction to this – don’t think it would be a passive one.

    • telemachus

      Were perish the thought Boston be replicated on Sunday you would sing a different tune

      • Tom Tom

        Why ? Do you think Muslims from Chechnya – btw they have 2 sisters – should be profiled and have their Internet connections monitored ? Should the 2 sisters have their mobile phones tapped and their emails and Web Caches checked ? Is that ALL Muslims you want to monitor ? There is not enough resource to check everything Tel-Boy ? After all Menwith Hill ALREADY scans Emails and phone calls without this legislation

        • telemachus

          This is not ethnic religious or racial
          I remind you about Tony Lecomber and the Talbot street bombers
          There is the ever present ongoing threat from dissident elements from the North of Ireland
          I want to be free to live in peace

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    Nazi-Paedo terrorists! Won’t someone THINK of the children! I don’t want privacy or rights any more just make me and my little tiddlers safe!