The Joint Select Committee looking at the draft Communications Data Bill (the “Snoopers Charter”) has now published its findings. They are available here in full: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201213/jtselect/jtdraftcomuni/79/7902.htm
The report is scathing when it comes to the consultation process, which was essentially non-existent. Para 58 is very clear:
58. Before re-drafted legislation is introduced there should be a new round of consultation with technical experts, industry, law enforcement bodies, public authorities and civil liberties groups. This consultation should be on the basis of the narrower, more clearly defined set of proposals on definitions, narrower clause 1 powers and stronger safeguards which are recommended in this report. The United Kingdom and overseas CSPs should be given a clear understanding of the exact nature of the gap which the draft Bill aims to address so that those companies can be clear about why the legislation is necessary.
This report should be welcomed and the Bill as it stands clearly cannot proceed through Parliament. However, given Theresa May’s hysterical outbursts last week, it may be they’ll try to push ahead regardless. Let us hope that if they do take such a foolish course that clearer heads prevail and it is thoroughly rejected in the House.
As always, Paul Bernal has written a clear summary of the main aspects of the Bill available here: http://paulbernal.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/fanciful-and-misleading/ . I agree wholeheartedly with his main point that the Committee and others don’t appear to understand the risks of collecting this data in the first place. The data-mining aspects are bad enough but the ease with which such exhaustive data could be compromised has not been considered at all. Perhaps should a proper consultation process take place, this point can be hammered home.
UPDATE: Privacy International have added their voice to today’s report and it’s a very good read: https://www.privacyinternational.org/blog/finally-a-grown-up-debate-about-communications-surveillance