It seems that the UK government will be deciding what to do about the Snooper's Charter this week. It is already under huge pressure as more and more problems with the plans become evident. I urge you to write to your MP (perhaps using WriteToThem.com) to express your own concerns.
Here's what I've just sent off to my MP:
This is just a quick note to ask you to urge your colleagues not to include the Communications Data Bill in the Queen's Speech.
The facts are as follows.
The police and others claim that there is a "deficit" in their information gathering, because they can only monitor a lower percentage of communications compared to the past. What that overlooks is that communication flow has increased many times – probably a hundredfold: they actually have far more information now than they ever had. They do not need these new powers that will be so harmful to our civil liberties.
This is not just about communications data. Consider Web addresses, which will be retained under the proposals. If you know that I go to http://alzheimers.co.uk/ you do not need to see the Web page content to guess what I am interested in. Similarly for many other areas. Web address are content.
The system will not catch any serious criminals. They will simply use anonymous email and browsing services, and encrypted methods that make it infeasible even for well-equipped UK spy centres to decode their messages. This will make it harder to catch criminals than it is now, when they may not routinely use these approaches. The only people who will be affected are the innocent.
That's because if this information is held, even in a distributed set of databases, it will inevitably be leaked. There is no such thing as a totally secure database, whether for reasons of people gaining access, negligence, corruption or blackmail: it is always possible to gain access if you really want to. These databases will contain essentially people's entire lives, and thus will be very attractive to criminals and maybe even foreign governments. Ironically, creating these databases will make us all much less safe, not more.
For these and many other reasons, I urge you to ask you colleagues to drop this ill-advised plan.
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