24 January 2015

Urgent: Please Help Stop Underhand Attempt to Sneak in the Snooper's Charter

In an act of extraordinary contempt for both the public and democracy, four lords are attempting to insert the bulk of the Snooper's Charter in the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in a way that means there will be almost no opportunity to debate it.  We have only two days to stop this disgraceful move by writing to members of the House of Lords, and asking them to object to this disturbing attempt to circumvent the proper procedures "because terrorism".

WriteToThem will provide you with a random person to contact, and an easy way to do so - you just have to provide the message.  Here's what I've sent to a few people there:

I hope you will forgive me for contacting you out of the blue like this, but I feel that the circumstances surrounding the attempt to introduce what amounts to an entire additional bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill without scrutiny is a gross abuse of Parliamentary procedure - indeed an assault on democracy.

As the Open Rights Group notes:

"The draft Communications Data Bill, which is inserted by the amendment in nearly identitical form, was scrutinised by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a year.

The Committee agreed unanimously that the draft was inappropriate. None of their concerns are addressed in the clauses presented. 

The report is extremely critical of the Home Office, labelling their figures “fanciful and misleading.” It adds that they “expect the overall cost to the taxpayer over the next decade to exceed £1.8 billion [the Home Office's estimated cost] by a considerable margin"

The Committee said that “the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data.”

Their concerns over wholesale collection and analysis of data were substantial and from any perspective would need considerable changes to be made to the draft bill, now presented as amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill."

Given those issues, as well as the more fundamental one of the entire legislative process being abused in this way, I would like to urge you to attend the debate on Monday and to express your concerns about this attempt to insert legislation into an existing Bill at the last minute.

Thank you for your help in this important matter.

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