Wednesday 12 May 2010

Springing a leak in the balloon of the surveillance state

Here it is – hot off the press – direct from Chris Fox, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats in a personal email to me (and probably many thousands of others). This is what the two political parties have agreed in respect of civil liberties as the basis for the coalition that will govern the country over the next few years. Actually, it's remarkably similar to the agreement I was expecting - and had blogged about last Saturday.

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:
• A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
• The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
• Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
• The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
• Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
• The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
• The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
• The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
• Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
• Further regulation of CCTV.
• Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
• A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

I think we can interpret this as a commitment to spring a gigantic leak in the balloon of the surveillance state.