- Posted July 27, 2014 by
UK rushes emergency surveillance bill
Urgent legislation is being passed through the British parliament after the European Court of Justice struck down an EU directive in April requiring phone and internet companies to retain communications data on the grounds that it infringed human rights. This rush through legislation involves the adoption of emergency data law so as to allow police and security services to continue to monitor phone and internet records. Given the real threats to the British security from serious organized crime, from the activity of pedophiles, from the collapse of criminals and terrorists. In fact, this emergency legislation is expected to be introduced as an independent bill or as amendments to the serious crime bill going through parliament now.
The legislation is chiefly aimed at the companies that provide telephone and internet connections. It outlines calls made, when and who people called, texted and emailed and what numbers dialed, without including the content of messages and phone calls. Overall, this law must be rushed through to maintain national security, according to the British government.
But this has raised critics and questions on whether there is enough transparency, accountability and oversight. David Davis, Conservative MP and and longstanding campaigner on civil liberties, thinks the government enacts a theatrical emergency. Ms Cooper believes this will set serious concern in Parliament and across the country at the lateness of this legislative proposal and the short time to consider something so important. And The Open Rights Group accused the government of using the threat of terrorism to push through an "emergency law" as it has no legal basis. As for the Executive Director Jim Killock and the Labour backbench MP Tom Watson, they claim this legislation infringes the people’s privacy and liberties. As for privacy campaign groups, they fear the move implies the continuation of "privatised snooping", that is, governments pay companies to record what citizens did and keep that information for a year. In response, Jim Killock said this new legislation is disproportionate and unnecessary and believes it is a waste of money.
In response to those critics, David Cameron highlights that this is a powerful and necessary tool to restore emergency surveillance as it has always solved serious criminal cases.
This legislation will likely will likely come into effect next week after being passed through the Commons. It will be reviewed in 2016 after next year's general election.