Friday 14 December 2012

Draft Communications Data Bill: soundbites & comments

In the last of this series of blogs on the Joint Committee’s report, I thought I would report on some of the comments I’ve heard. None of them are surprising, and I’m sure that none will be ignored by Home Office officials either, who I expect are working hard to ensure that, when a redrafted Bill id presented for scrutiny, very few of the criticisms that were made about the last version could be made again.

I’m sure that everyone is keen to devise a pragmatic solution that can be accepted by one and all. 

I recently heard a very eminent politician, drawing on his many years of experience, remark: “What is in the public interest doesn’t usually represent the interests of members of the public”.

In this particular case, I very much hope that any legislation ultimately passed by Parliament will indeed represent the interests, and concerns, of all stakeholders.

"Rarely can a parliamentary report have been so thorough and so damming...For those of us who have lamented the lack of rigour in parliamentary scrutiny, the work by the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill is a refreshing departure. It dissects each assertion put forward by Theresa May and her manderins. It accepts that there is a case for legislation "which will provide the law enforcement agencies with some further access to communications data", but it adds: "We believe 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." ... For the moment, parliament has done its job. Credit where it is due. It has held light to ane executive power, and found it cavalier."
John Kampner, The Guardian

"I compliment the Committee for its report  ... incredibly professional."
David Davis MP, speaking at a press conference on 11 December

"Almost exactly 14 days before Christmas, the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill has delivered an early present ... It adds up to a damming indictment of the proposals and how they were put together. The cross party Committee examined this draft Bill in extreme detail and with great care over the past six months. And they found the Bill did not bear scrutiny."
Peter Bradwell, from the Open Rights Group

"We are pleased that the Committee has echoed our concerns, particularly about the unsubstantiated costs and benefits of the Bill." 

We are really pleased that the Committee recognised the impact that the Bill could have on business."
 Sarah Kelly, director of the Coalition for a Digital Economy.  

"Finally a grown up debate about communications surveillance." 
Gus Hosein, director Privacy International 

"The first battle may have been won but the war is still very much to come. Any assertion fro the Home Office that a small amount of tinkering and minor changes will be adequate is completely unacceptable. The Committee has exposed weak evidence, misleading statements, and fanciful figures, and the recommendations highlight the very basic errors that have been made."
Emma Carr, the

"T May must rethink Data Comms Bill. Thoughtful report finds it unworkable, uncosted and too much power to Home Sec."
Rt Hon Yvtte Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary 

"This is a very difficult issue and I welcome the Committee's thoroughness."
Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister

"We recognise this is a difficult issue. We  will take account of what the Committee said."
Prime Minister's spokesman.