I recently received an email from the Open Rights Group, informing me of the shameful way in which the UK government has conducted its so-called consultation into the Investigatory Powers Act – a disgraceful piece of legislation that undermines the privacy and freedoms every UK citizen has a right to expect.
The Open Rights Group called upon concerned citizens to write to the Home Office to express their views. My email to the UK Home Office follows here.
As a citizen of the United Kingdom, I demand that the Home Office fulfil their duty to run a full and thorough consultation of the Investigatory Powers Act Codes of Practice.
It is vital that this consultation provides enough information to ensure that those consulted understand the issues and can offer informed responses.
I would like the opportunity to respond, however I am not legally trained and therefore am unable to wade through 400 pages of legal text in order to offer a well informed analysis of the substance of the Codes.
I would like the Home Office to publish fully detailed information about all that is contained within these Codes of Practice and the reasons for its inclusion. I understand that the Codes have been altered since the Home Secretary showed the draft Codes to Parliament. I demand to know exactly what has changed, and why.
I would like a full consultation to be re-run, over a three month period, as to allow lawyers, civil society, and other interested groups to suggest ways in which the Codes may be amended.
I am extremely concerned by the government’s pursual of bulk powers of surveillance, its attacks on encryption, and its attempts to legalise hacking of UK citizen’s electronic, communication and computer systems, by agencies of the state in the absence of very tightly controlled judicial oversight. Such intrusion into UK citizen’s devices and private communications should be legal only in extremely highly focused and narrowly defined circumstances, under the authority of an explicit, case-specific judicial warrant.
The way in which the Investigatory Powers Act has been rammed through Parliament is an utterly shameful indictment of our political system, whilst the substance of the legislation completely undermines the right to privacy that we must expect, respect and demand in a free and democratic society.
I fully understand the need to fight terrorism in an appropriate way. However, undermining the fundamental rights of all UK citizens is neither appropriate nor balanced. For all the grand talk of standing firm and remaining true to “British values” in the face of terrorist attacks, legislation such as the Investigatory Powers Act – and the apparent disdain for due democratic process as evidenced by this shoddy “consultation” – is tantamount to surrendering fundamental liberties of every UK citizen to the will of a relatively small number of criminals who seek to do us harm. Legislation such as this empowers these individuals to force change upon our society; it hands them a victory.
This situation is an utter disgrace. I am appalled by government’s abysmal lack of understanding of technology and its refusal to take wise counsel from those in the field who actually know what they are talking about (Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, to name but one).
I am a citizen of this country and I demand that my voice be heard. I refuse to accept the outcome of the aforementioned consultation – it is a sham. The government is tasked with defending the rights and liberties of the citizens of the United Kingdom, but as shown here, is abjectly failing in that duty.