I have joined a number of politicians, academics and policymakers in signing an open letter to the UK Government published in The Telegraph today, warning of the potential dangers of rushing through the Investigatory Powers Bill:
SIR — Intelligence agencies and the police require strong surveillance powers. Their powers and responsibilities — as well as their limits — must be clear to be effective.
All three parliamentary reports on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill concluded that it does not meet the requirements of clarity, consistency and coherence. They call for new drafting, further safeguards, further evidence and further consultation.
Given these recommendations, the Government’s intention to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill this year is not in the nation’s interest. There is no need to be bound by this time frame. The powers, which expire this year, to give law enforcement access to data could be dealt with as a separate Bill. This would allow a comprehensive Investigatory Powers Act to follow next year after adequate consultation.
Surveillance is a global concern, and this new law, if done right, could lead the world. It will affect security, freedom and commerce. We must give the Bill the time it needs — not rush it through Parliament. We urge the Government to think again.
You can see the full list of signatories of the letter; also, support the Open Rights Group’s IP Bill campaign.
Today the Bill passed the 3rd reading in the Commons (by 444 votes to 69) and will now go to the Lords.