Battersea CLP passes DRIP motion

This week Battersea CLP passed a robust motion on data surveillance. Proposed by Battersea CLP member and LCHR supporter Dan Garrigan, the motion came after the legislation nicknamed DRIP (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act) was rushed through Parliament in the absence of proper scrutiny. Concerned with potential indiscriminate use of the bill, its lack of transparency, and scarce accountability, Dan said on his blog:

“Anything that fundamentally disrupts the balance between the individual’s right to privacy and national security must be very carefully examined and the onus must surely fall on the state to demonstrate why further impingements of our liberty are necessary.”

The motion below is an important contribution to the debate on data surveillance and helps to sustain the pressure on the Government for a revision of the enshrined legislation.

 

CLP motion against mass surveillance

In 2013, the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the existence of a mass surveillance programme operated by the UK government. It gives the government access to information such as who we send messages to and which websites we browse. This surveillance is not targeted at suspected criminals or terrorists, but rather at the entire population.

In July 2014, Parliament passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIP), entrenching aspects of mass surveillance into UK law. It passed with little scrutiny or debate.

This CLP notes:

  1. Information about our communications and internet use can reveal intimate details about our lives, including our health, legal and financial affairs, and relationships.
  1. There is a distinction between carrying out surveillance against an individual suspected of a crime or involvement in terrorism, and mass surveillance carried out against the whole population regardless of innocence or guilt.
  1. There is potential for abuse or misuse of surveillance powers. In recent years the security services and police have been accused of spying on or infiltrating groups of political activists, students’ unions, human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, charities like UNICEF, unions, and prominent individuals in the Labour Party like the Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan and Doreen Lawrence.
  1. The public are sceptical about mass surveillance. A poll from May 2014 shows that 88 percent of people believe their phone records, for example, should be kept private.
  1. The stated intention of the Conservative Party is to increase mass surveillance with further legislation in 2016 when DRIP expires.
  1. There is a need for the Labour Party to demonstrate it can responsibly balance privacy and security.
  1. The way DRIP was passed with little scrutiny or debate risks undermining public confidence in the security services and Parliament.

This CLP resolves:

  1. Any legislation dealing with an issue as complex and ethically challenging as data surveillance should always be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny and debate, and it is regrettable that DRIP was not.
  1. Surveillance is a vital tool in tackling terrorism and crime, but it should only be used if there is reasonable suspicion of the subject’s involvement in such activity.
  1. The Snowden revelations have shown there is a need for greater oversight of the security services to ensure they have the public’s confidence. Authorisation of surveillance by a judge would also be a helpful step in ensuring proper accountability.

If you are a Labour member and would like to propose a similar motion then please contact andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk.

LCHR Welcomes Ed Miliband call for US-style debate of intelligence services

LCHR welcomes the news that Ed Miliband has praised President Obama for starting a debate about the powers of intelligence services in light of the Snowden revelations. We strongly support his call for a similar discussion in the UK. He has suggested that an opposition politician could chair the Intelligence and Security Committee and that reforming oversight of the intelligence services would be part of his campaign to challenge “unaccountable power.”

LCHR, concerned about the serious implications of mass data surveillance, has been campaigning on this issue since October. We fully endorse the proposals Ed Miliband has made and would also encourage a discussion about the legislative framework governing surveillance.

Data Surveillance Event in Parliament, 17th December 2013

Last Tuesday the Labour Campaign for Human Rights hosted a discussion on the theme ‘GCHQ and the fight against terrorism: does UK surveillance go too far?’ We were thrilled by the fantastic attendance and the quality of the discussion. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our speakers and everyone else who attended and made it into such a fascinating evening.

If you weren’t able to attend you can see the live coverage of the event here http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/alan-rusbridger-jimmy-wales-ex-gchq-chief-debate-spying-live, or else see the article on the event here  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/17/spy-chiefs-accountability-to-parliament-gchq. Please also find below some pictures from the event.

Finally, all that’s left to do is to wish you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Event: ‘GCHQ and the fight against terrorism: does UK surveillance go too far?’

Panel discussion followed by Q&A.

Tuesday 17 December, 6:15pm-8pm. Committee Room 6, Houses of Parliament.

Speakers:

Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian newspaper

 Sir David Omand, former Director of GCHQ

George Howarth MP, Labour member of the Intelligence and Security Committee

Diana Johnson MP, Labour Shadow Home Affairs Minister

 Katy Clark MP, Labour Party

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia

Andrew Noakes (Chair), Chair of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights

As Edward Snowden’s revelations about the spying activities of US and UK intelligence services continue to cause controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, the Labour Campaign for Human Rights would like to invite you to an event exploring what the limits should be to UK surveillance in the fight against terrorism.

GCHQ’s ambitious ‘Tempora’ data surveillance programme has proved to be one of the most controversial secrets revealed by Snowden. The programme is said to collect and store the Internet data of millions of people, including UK citizens. This includes facebook messages, emails, skype calls, and personal Internet history.

Some MPs have expressed deep concern about Tempora and the alleged lack of effective parliamentary oversight of UK intelligence agencies. But others have defended the programme and instead attacked the Guardian newspaper for its role in publishing the Snowden revelations, accusing it of endangering national security.

At this event, we ask our panel whether UK surveillance has gone too far, or whether we are being too protective of our privacy in light of the security threats we face.

If you are coming from outside Parliament, please use the Cromwell Green entrance and allow 20 minutes to pass through security.

This event is public and open to everyone. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to patrick.phongsathorn@lchr.org.uk