Coffee House

Is cross-party agreement on surveillance legislation a good thing?

10 July 2014

12:01 PM

10 July 2014

12:01 PM

So all three party leaders agree that it’s worth rushing through emergency surveillance legislation. While David Cameron and Nick Clegg were holding their rare joint press conference, Ed Miliband released a joint letter with Yvette Cooper in which he said ‘we have been guided by our firm conviction that it is essential to maintain the security of our citizens and also ensure people’s privacy is protected’.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister both needed to make the case for the emergency legislation today but Nick Clegg also needed to make the case for his support for it, given he had rejected the full Communications Data Bill. He supports the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (which helpfully abbreviates to DRIP) because it has ‘nothing to do with the so-called Snooper’s Charter’ and he feels this emergency legislation will lead to a proper debate about surveillance in this country.


Theresa May is currently speaking in the House of Commons on the laws. Parliament will get very little say in this, and given all three party leaders agree, there will be little debate in the Commons about it.

This is not necessarily a good thing. Often when all three parties agree on something without debate or scrutiny, Parliament makes poor decisions which it comes to regret or revise. The most recent example is the regulation of the press, which whisked so quickly through parliament that many MPs only realised what had happened a few weeks later. MPs today are trying to work out whether this really is an extension of powers or, as the leaders are arguing, not. But even if they conclude that it is the former, they’ll only be able to complain about, rather than revise, this legislation.

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Show comments
  • Adrian Wainer

    If the Government wants to spy on people, the Government should have some sort of legitimacy, this Government has none. Britain being in the EU is contrary to the UK Constitution. David Cameron is nothing more than a gofer for the Saudis and the Tory Graph throw traditional Conservative Party supporters off their website whilst allowing neo-Nazis to spew their garbage.

  • Amir
  • Smithersjones2013

    Absolutely futile piece of interfering gesture politics by three losers (four if you count May) trying to impress the British people that they are looking after the people’s interests. There are many free or cheap facilities available to subvert any such logging and monitoring capability. Does the government seriously believe that those this is intended to catch lack the intelligence not to adopt these workarounds?

    This will only interfere with the innocent and the stupid. It is pointless tyranny.

    • HookesLaw

      Spoken like another dork who does not know or understand the context.
      This has been law since 2006 and as Cameron pointed out serious criminals have been convicted using it. So it is not pointless.
      As for Clegg being there – all we are doing is reintroducing an EU directive from 2006 which the ECJ has now ruled against. So it would be strange if EU loving Nick were not in favour of something agreed by EU loving Blair.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Well they might have caught people in 2006 but that doesn’t mean they are going to catch them now you dimwit. The government can control what goes on on the internet as much as Canute could hold back the tide.

        Obsolete legislation by obsolete politicians (In Brussels and Westminster). Why else would they broadcast it so everybody knows NOT to do such things on their e-mail and such like?

        PS The real solutions are too tyrannical even for the likes of Labour to contemplate.

        • HookesLaw

          What a load of preposterous rubbish. Its ensuring the same law stays on the books. Its a law which has worked in the past and intelligence services are sure it will work in the future.
          Your absurd suggestion for the future shows up the paucity of your argument.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Spoken like a true socialist authoritarian nutter.

            • HookesLaw

              Keep your extreme right wing authoritarian nutjobery to yourself laddie

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …are you and the Queen of Darkness and Call Me Dave looking into a mirror, lad? Because your post is exactly describing what you socialist nutters are doing, you and your LibLabCon soulmates.

                • HookesLaw

                  How is the Grand Wizard getting on? How do you keep those fiery crosses burning so long.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …can any other of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s gibberish?

  • HookesLaw

    So it was wrong for there to be a wartime coalition in 1940? Thats your logic. If something is right then why should people not agree. Is there something rotten in the state of Denmark because the entire press industry have agreed with themselves that they do not want independent regulation? Please do tell us.

    As I point out below – this has been law since 2006 and was not contested then. As it was a Europe wide 2006 law it was one which labour agreed and supported. It would be strange if it did not support actions to maintain it on the UK statute book.
    Do you thick journalists ever retain any data in your thick skulls? Can we expect hysterical journalists to put this in proper perspective and context (we know the nutjob loony-toons wont, but we might expect the supposed keepers of record to be more wide awake.

    • Smithersjones2013

      I can see you are ranting (again)! Are you frothing at the mouth as well?

      • HookesLaw

        The rants are all by others – no surprises there.
        The facts are coming from me. I doubt we have much hope of facts from journalists, intent on their fight with government as they are

        • Smithersjones2013

          Thats right only you and Dave know the truth. Nobody else. Just you and Dave. Isn’t that right?

          You haven’t started that counselling I suggested now have you?

          • HookesLaw

            I think its you that need counselling since you refuse to engage in the facts. The truth is the law has been in operation since 2006. An EU directive has been ruled on by the ECJ.
            Its a silly ruling but its obsession with ‘freedom’ ought to shut up the obsessives on the EAW issue.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Mistress May… The Queen of Darkness… busy again… tightening the tyrannical noose she and the socialist nutter Camerloons have set out to inflict on a once free People.

    • you_kid

      Is that your five minutes of stealing Shami Chakrabarti the show?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …that post is so stupid it makes my hair hurt.

        Try the goat sockpuppet, lad.

        • you_kid

          You mean you *are* Shami Chakrabarti?
          My apologies, oh wise one.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …and that post is even stupider, if that’s possible.

            Time for the goat, lad.

  • allymax bruce

    Isabel, Theresa May is absolutely right; The Labour Party’s horrendous laws, (from when the Public most stupidly voted Labour into gov’), allowed all our own Public Authorities, like the police, to trawl un-necessary searches of our private emails, conversations, sms texts etc, to family & friends; they were given free-reign to snoop into our private lives by evil Labour laws. But, Labour even gave this extreme power to our local council, libraries, benefits agencies; even ‘procured contractors’ that were given Public Authority contracts in the Third Sector! Yer neighbour that worked at the local council, the one that always gave you a dirty look, knew everything about your private life details! Yes, all Labour’s Trade-Unions were spying on us using Labour’s evil laws! People; don’t vote Labour!
    Thank God for Theresa May!

  • Nexus01

    The UK is no longer governed via democracy but tyranny.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Yes, in this case based in Luxembourg, see below.

  • Denis_Cooper

    And what May said in the Commons, which you haven’t mentioned in this article, is that the need for fast-tracking legislation has been precipitated by a judgement from the EU’s Court of Justice in April.
    I presume that you think we should stay in the EU, Isabel?

    • HookesLaw

      lets get this straihh – althouh I doubt that you ae interested….

      The ‘European Union (EU) Data Retention Directive’ was adopted in 2006, following terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, something which spurred people to push through legislation in only 3 months, instead of years years. I must say it seems to me to be sensible that this action should be co-ordinated europe wide.

      As it stood, the law required telcos and Communications Service Providers to store data on people’s communication interactions for two years in order to allow police and other interested parties – subject to court orders being required – to monitor:-
      someone’s identity,
      the time of their communication,
      the location where the communication took place
      and the frequency of the communications.

      However following action by ‘privacy advocates’ in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the Directive violates two basic rights – respect for private life and protection of personal data.

      Its likely that the EU will come up with a new directive but meantime the ruling is one that has no automatic effect on national legislation. The EU is not telling us we cannot do something – it is in fact leaving us to do what we want. All it is doing is saying that at the moment it cannot be EU wide.

      Can you get that into your head? It’s left up to the individual EU member states to decide what action to take and when. Norway for instance is going to intruduce new legislation just like we are. Sweden is seems is not going to bother.

      So make your mind up – are you upset that the EU directive, which we had an input into, was created in the first place or that it has now been altered by the ECJ?
      As it is all we are doing is re installing on the statute book what was there before but was Europe wide. It is in fact bad news that it will not be Europe wide.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Can you get that into your head? It’s left up to the individual EU member states to decide what action to take and when.

        So we can blame Dave for this (and the Snooper’s Charter if it resurfaces) completely then can we? it will be all his fault?

        • HookesLaw

          Can you not comprehend English? The govt are acting decisively to ensure that EU legislation based on an EU directive over ruled by the ECJ stays on the statute book so that it can continue to protect us as it has been doing since 2006.

          There is no snoopers charter. As the directive pointed out – it retained meta data for 2 years.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, the EUSSR diktat must be upheld, or at least you socialist nutters think so.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Yes, let’s get it straight, that is if you’re interested and you can read and understand these English words spoken by Theresa May in the Commons today as recorded here:

        “… we now face two significant and urgent problems relating to both communications data and interception: first, the recent judgment by the European Court of Justice, which calls into question the legal basis upon which we require communication service providers in the UK to retain communications data …”

        “… we must respond to the ruling by the European Court of Justice that the data retention directive is invalid … ”

        And so forth, repeatedly mentioned in her speech, and supported by Yvette Cooper from the Opposition front bench:

        “We agree with the Home Secretary that a temporary and urgent solution is needed as a result of the European Court judgment in April … ”

        So what I said, that

        “.. the need for new legislation to be fast-tracked through Parliament has been precipitated by a judgement from the EU’s Court of Justice in April.”

        is perfectly correct notwithstanding all your blather.

        • HookesLaw

          Its your blather which you do not seem to have the wit to understand.
          The law was an EU Directive which was ruled on when asked by the ECJ (thats its job). Its the EU Directive that was ruled against.
          We, the UK and others, are simply reinstating that law outside the remit of the ECJ before potentially important data is wiped. The law now is not Europe wide.
          Make up your mind, are you unhappy that the Directive was originally passed or that the ECJ has ruled against it or that the UK can still impliment its own security legislation when it wants to. Or are you disappointed that important security legislation cannot be implimented Europe wide, something that seems eminently sensible?
          (don’t worry I won’t bother asking you again)

          • Denis_Cooper

            Are you drunk, or sober but just plain stupid?

            Why are you trying to tell me to make my mind up about something on which I haven’t expressed any view?

            You make what passes for your mind up: do you agree that:

            “.. the need for new legislation to be fast-tracked through Parliament has been precipitated by a judgement from the EU’s Court of Justice in April.”

            was correct, or would you prefer to ignore what was said in
            the Commons by both Theresa May and Yvette Cooper?

            A simple “yes” or “no” would suffice.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “Parliament will get very little say in this, and given all three party leaders agree, there will be little debate in the Commons about it.”

    Well, we don’t have to keep electing Members of Parliament who will just do what their party leaders say, do we? Except of course that is what you want, isn’t it, you want us to keep electing Tory members who will just do what their leaders tell them.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Will they be monitoring UDP comms on port 4? I don’t know what that means, but a friend wants to know. Just out of curiosity.

  • you_kid

    Absolutely a-mazing! We are told to charge our phones at all times otherwise we will be on the terrorist register (open the phone up you dimwits, it’s just a FAQing circuit board!), now this. Now, only two scenarios apply here:

    1- nothing happens this summer. So we were protected from an evil inti-fada. Great. Let’s have more rules then please to be even safer in the future.

    2- something goes boobies up. So all the hype didn’t work. Time to call in Norwegian shrinks in larger numbers to fix this mental state of national hysteria.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …but but but, you and your army of socialist nutter sockpuppets are in love with the Levesonista fascism, laddie.

      So, enjoy, all of you.

      • you_kid

        Meal Deal 2 followed by Meal Deal 1, for you then I take it.
        Now keep that laptop charged up at all times, you terroir-ist.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …can any other of you fascists translate this fascist’s incoherent gibberish?

  • alabenn

    Anything that these three witless fools agree to do, has to be of doubtful utility.

  • UniteAgainstSocialism

    this emergency surveillance legislation doesnt go far enough. Local authorities need even more powers. If you put an empty coffee jar in the waste wheelie bin rather than the recycling wheelie bin, you need to be put under surveilance to make sure you dont do it again. The climate crisis demands this of us. Not putting your waste in the correct wheelie bin is causing sea level rises, melting ice caps and poor people in africa to drown in the sahara desert because of catastrophic climate change.

    Come on ppl, we need more surveillance in order to save the planet.

    {sarc mode off}

    • allymax bruce

      Funny how all the Trade-Union spies are out on strike; destroying Public Services, which they were employed by the People to do!
      I’ve said all along, the Trade-Unions are a useless, self-serving left-over from the 1950’s Communist Party ethos; time to abolish Trade-Unions, and replace them with Government Depts of Work, Fair Trade & Rights. Then we could also abolish Equality legislation as it would be incorproated (sorry for the pun) into said new dept’ policy.
      If Religion has to be separated from Politics, then so must Social constructs like Trade-Unions; especially when Trade-Unions are manipulating the People & Services for (The Labour Party) Political gain.

  • Mark

    This isn’t how Parliament should work. There’s no emergency; nothing has recently emerged. Rather, the Government has left it this late so that they could rush it through and hope it’s soon forgotten. There’s a real debate to be had about liberty in the age of digital communication – and Parliament ought to be having it.

    • Adrian Drummond

      There has been, and continues to be, a very big debate in America on the topic of state surveillance on its citizens, ostensibly for reasons of national security. It’s a disgrace that most people in the UK are unaware of it. I have concluded that there must have been a D Notice applied (or some such other pressure) to newspaper and magazine editors to steer clear of the subject.

      • ButcombeMan

        No D Notice, just very little interest, despite the Guardian trying to drum up some, as that organ lies on its deathbed..

        Isabel is at it here.

        There is nothing very exciting in making sure that electronic contact data is retained for access by law enforcement, there never was.

        David Davis tried rather pathetically also, on WAO.

        The REAL issue, is who gets access, how easily and quickly and what the justification process is. Internal to the organisation, or external. (And it might have to be different for different organisations). It also needs to be subject to external review by the Interception Commissioner.

        The Police dealing with a “Black Panther” type kidnapping, should not be over taxed. Any serious crime or terrorism investigation, in real time, should not be over taxed.

        A local Council most certainly should, maybe by Magistrates or Judges Warrant

    • HookesLaw

      So if all the data that might convict a terrorist or some warped criminal is wiped next month – then that is not an emergency?
      Why don’t you loony toons grow up.

      • southerner

        The rationale of a socialist nutter encapsulated in one hopelessly deluded comment. Well done.

        • HookesLaw

          The nutters are people like you – ranting on out of ignorance. Take a look at this thread, one long list of ignorant ranting nutters. Starting with you.

          • southerner

            Of course. It’s everyone else as always eh?

            “Look at my son on that parade ground. The only one that is marching in step. I’m so proud.”

            • HookesLaw

              Just because all you nutjobs congregate around the Speccy whipping yourselves into the regular metronomic frenzy of the dedicated cultist does not make you right.

        • ButcombeMan

          He is correct.

          Hardly a serious crime is nowadays investigated without some use of electronic contact data.

          Only the fact that the Portuguese preserved the cell site data has allowed reinvestigation of the Maddy McCann case.

          Important also to remember that such data can acquit as well as convict.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Calm down Hooky. You seem to be getting so heated about this you’ll melt your tin-foil hat……

    • ButcombeMan

      You are sounding off without understanding, The proposal has a sunset clause, to deal with your “real debate” need.

      In fact a “real debate” is quite difficult because on this subject so many are prepared to sound off without understanding or even thinking

      The fact of retention of the data for specific period affects no one’s freedom it is recorded anyway. it always was.

      There is ” an emergency”, the retainers and providers of the data to law enforcement, want legal cover for their activities and there is the outstanding Cosgrove case being reactivated.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        So “real debate” is “quite difficult”, and you’d rather not have it?

        Sounds like tyranny.

        The data retention should never have been done in the first place. It is not the government’s business. They can’t keep track of their own records, let alone those which might affect the lives of others, if lost or abused.

        • ButcombeMan

          I always comment when this issue comes up, so you cannot accuse me of avoiding this debate.

          I also try to help the unconvinced to understand the need for some data retention.

          You are just sounding off, your third line is a statement of your view. It is silly, the data cannot be “wished away” like that as if it never existed. We all create it.

          Your last two lines are sadly nonsense, your electronic contact data has always existed, since the days of the exchange clerk’s “tickets”.

          The companies all have it, the issue is retention so it can be accessed should the need arise. Personally I think 12 months is the least that is useful. Longer would be better and safer.

          Amid all the fuss about this, many people worried by it give far more information to other data holders in social networks, Tesco and Nectar (etc) cards, Credit cards, Oyster cards and so on.

          The reason I say ‘real debate” is quite difficult, is simply because those arguing against some data retention normally, like you, refuse to engage with the consequences of not having it.

          If we were to have a “real debate”, you might for example argue that the downside of not having it was acceptable, As you and those like you do not engage, we never hear that argument. It is YOU who wants to avoid the debate.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Your lines are statements of your view, lad, and they are all nonsense, and they are quite tyrannical. What’s your point? Do you want to continue on this course?

            That data can be “wished away” from the goverenment’s clutches. That way it can’t be stolen, misused, etc. It seems tyrants would rather otherwise .

            The data may have always existed, but it wasn’t accessible to the ne’er do wells, as it is now. The only way to keep them from accessing it is to see it doesn’t exist.

            The only reason for it to exist is that a tyrannical government wants control. That is all. A responsible government can go collect data it needs, when it needs.

            I give data to others by choice, not by tyrannical diktat. You would do well to learn the difference.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            I’m well prepared to accept the “consequences” of not allowing tyrants to illegitimately collect data, lad. It seems you are the one refusing to engage with the consequences of not collecting it. Tyranny is like that, history shows. The chosen few will do well, and the rest can go….

            Best you not frame the discussion as you being right because you’re right, lad, and others are wrong because they’re just wrong. That’s cheap. It’s also stupid.

            • ButcombeMan

              You make my point for me. You do not want a debate which covers the plusses or more particularly the downsides of not having such data available.

              It is possible to argue the case. It is possible to argue society can accept the downnside. You fail to engage. Maybe just maybe, you cannot argue that case because you do not understand it. Easier, far easier to opt out of intellectual engagement with the issues all together.

              Poor and humbug.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                You make my point for me. You do not want a debate which covers the minuses of the tyranny you’re so willingly ratcheting forward. You want to further destroy freedom and liberty, and you do not even acknowledge it .

                The data is available, lad. A responsible government can go and get it, in the usual fashion. You are not happy with that, and you want Big Brother in charge.

                You fail to engage. You accuse others of failing to engage, which is the tyrant’s typical tactic. All socialist nutters have done this, through out history. They accuse others of what they themselves are doing.

                Poor and humbug.

                And worse, it is destructive to freedom and liberty. And you don’t even acknowledge it. Tyranny, it has this as its hallmark.

                • ButcombeMan

                  You have missed the point and plainly do not understand.
                  The data is available at the points of contact, if the companies concerned have no reason to hold it, after billing for example, it might well be destroyed and unavailable. Your statement that it is available would prove to be wrong.

                  In fact you have failed entirely to engage.

                  You might have argued that the investigation/intelligence and criminal prosecution process should NEVER have access to such material or even any material electronically collected and stored, you would have been ignoring the realities of modern life but you might have argued that.

                  You might have argued that such use was disproportionate to the threats.

                  You might have argued that the cases that make use of SIGINT in the criminal process, are so few in number and so insignificant in seriousness that society, if necessary, should forgo those prosecutions.

                  You might have argued that the access rights were too loose, or that the services entitled to access were too many,that some of the “crimes” lacked a sufficiently serious nature, that the “investigators” in some organizations were not properly trained. (Councils).

                  You might have argued that there has been widespread abuse of this data not true or evidenced but you could have argued that.

                  You might have argued that yes the security threat has increased but that use of such data lacked proportionality to that threat. Again not true but it is a position some take,

                  You might have argued all of these things and more.

                  if you had done that sensibly, I would have responded. We might even have reached agreement on some points.

                  But no, your position is an empty shell. your bluff has been called “lad”. Your position lacks even modest intellectual rigour

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You have missed the point and plainly do not understand. The data is available at the points of contact, and the government can avail themselves of it, once they determine an investigation is in order. Your statement that it is not available would prove to be wrong.

                  In fact you have failed entirely to engage.

                  No need for you to fantasize what I “might have argued”, lad. That’s merely a distraction. You’re not engaging, and this distraction is merely additional to that .

                  You want Big Brother. You’re an authoritarian, and you despise freedom and liberty. You want all to be under constant surveillance, much like LibLabCon in its socialist authoritarian entirety. That’s why they cling to their EUSSR fantasies… it is who they are.

                  And you say you’re right because you say you’re right, which would be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerous. Sorry, lad, but it is you that seeks to destroy freedom and liberty, and set the government police power down on the People. This is Big Brother. You are its advocate, much as the Stasi.

                  This is tyranny, and you are too intellectually deficient to recognize it. Sorry, lad, but it is so.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Oh I understand all right, you have absolutely failed to get the point of metadata and how that is used in intelligence and investigation. You are confusing the use of contact metadata with access to data in real time by warranted intercept.

                  In fact, contact metadata, is often used to confirm the basis for an application for warranted intercept and to back up other intelligence.. That is where its main strength is (though direct contact data records especially by mobile, are also often used in criminal trials).

                  Warranted intercept and using contact data for intelligence are two different concepts.

                  If you do not understand the issues it would be wise to ask questions of those that do. Listen and learn, I was prepared to be patient with you in explaining, but you are so illogical and bombastic that you try my patience.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Oh I understand all right, you have absolutely failed to understand that you are an authoritarian and seek to destroy freedom and liberty, and you continue to attempt to distract.

                  I know full well the difference between the various uses of data, and the collection methods and their timing, laddie. You might wish to quit fantasizing and creating strawmen and distraction. It marks you as cheap.

                  Further, I don’t need you to explain the ways in which data is used. This is just another one of your distractions. All know how it can be used, and misused. Your continued efforts to truncate discussion are ugly, lad.

                  It would be well for you to cease your distractions, if you want to discuss these matters. You try my patience. You are an authoritarian and a deceiver. You can’t even admit what it is you’re doing. You seek to distract from that effort, and your zeal to abort discussion and debate is proof enough of your zeal.

                  Such is the hallmark of tyranny everywhere, throughout history.

  • southerner

    This is the sort of ludicrous socialist nonsense you expect from the Labour party. That it is being pushed by a nominally Tory Prime Minister tells you all you need to know about the liblabcon.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Westminster simply does not care.

    Child abuse – PAH!.
    Files go missing – HUH!
    No stone unturned – AS IF!
    A rush to legislate – WHAT’S THE PROBLEM!

    Westminster has the power to do whatever it wants, and it does, and all under the name of “democracy”.

    The disconnect between an unreformed UK Parliament and the people is immense.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Of course it’s quite obvious why our politicians would want to know in advance if people are planning on storming parliament and hanging the filthy, treacherous, perverted little s***s. Doh! Have I given the game a way?

    P.S. To our intrepid spooks at GCHQ logging and analysing this could you also please log and analyse the fact that the above comment is merely a joke. Stand down, go back to your nachos.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …and p o r n.