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 Post subject: William Heath: House of Commons emergency press event: CCDP
PostPosted: Sat, 23 Jun 2012 19:07:36 +0000 
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House of Commons emergency press event: CCDP

Posted on Jun 14th by Harry in Uncategorized

Julian Huppert hosted an emergency press/MPs briefing event on today’s draft Communications Data Bill. I stood in to speak for FIPR: here’s what I said.

Thanks to all for coming today. I’m William Heath, a social entrepreneur specialised in personal data, today representing FIPR on whose advisory council I’ve sat for the past 12 years. I’ll try here to reflect various FIPR AC ideas and insights, taking full responsibility myself for errors or omissions.

This debate starts with difficult problems of crime and delinquency. We acknowledge that the information age, for all its manifest blessings and benefits, creates difficult new challenges here.

The police and security services have sometimes lacked the resources and skills needed to help make the online world a safer place. Sometimes they’ve been slow to react. Sometimes (for example in seeking to restrict the general availability of cryptographic tools) have pushed misguided policies that have made things worse for all of us.

On the specific legislation proposed today there are several objections, in our collective expert view, and a question.

The objections are in terms of design, cost and efficacy.

The question is who is this for? The snooping done on the vast majority is not done for the benefit of the vast majority. Surely this isn’t being done for GCHQ, which can already harvest the data it needs at the border. We don’t believe the police aren’t really interested. Is this just the death throes of SOCA and a power and budget grab by the new national criminal agency NCA?

Above all this proposed law is a failure of intention. It’s just not something we should want to do in an accountable democracy which values human dignity.

This stupid and illiberal plan is destined to join other old-fashioned government tech projects, from Nimrod through the national programme for computerising the NHS to the late and unlamented National ID Scheme whose final remnants a Coalition Minister recently shredded in Essex before having them sent off to be burned in Birmingham.


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