Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans

Nick Clegg finds himself under increased pressure on the government’s snooping plans from his own side, with Lord Ashdown today condemning the proposals.

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Having been dropped in it by David Cameron for supporting then seeking to oppose the government’s State snooping plans, Nick Clegg finds himself under increased pressure from his own side, with Lord Ashdown condemning the “snooper’s charter” as “no different” to previous Labour plans the Lib Dems opposed.

Paddy-Ashdown-Charles-Kennedy-Nick-Clegg
Writing in today’s Times, the former Liberal leader says (£):

In 2005 the previous government used its presidency of the EU to lobby for a directive requiring domestic telephone and internet providers to retain full records of who contacted whom for a year and to provide the government with access to them on demand. It became law in 2009.

This legislation was opposed by European Liberals and has had a very rough ride. Sweden has yet to enact it and courts in Germany, Romania and the Czech Republic have ruled it unconstitutional.

The coalition Government promised to halt this move towards greater surveillance. But now it seems to propose not an amendment but a massive extension.

Attacking as “sophistry” the spin that somehow recording “data” rather than “content” would not be a fundamental breach of privacy, Ashdown adds (£):

The government’s new proposals to extend the retention of e-mail, social media, websites and internet phone records breach these basic principles; they are disproportionate and seek a generalised extension of state monitoring that applies to everyone, rather than to individuals.

The Government claims that it will have unfettered access only to “data” (ie, sender, recipient, time and duration) rather than content, so this does not constitute “a communications interception”. That is sophistry.

It is one of our rights as free citizens to talk to whom we wish, when we wish and wherever we wish without the State knowing about it, unless there is good cause for it to do so. It is not just the content of our communication that is private. It is the fact that it occurred at all, when and for how long.

In the case of an e-mail, it would plainly reveal the whole thing from the sender through to the signature at the end.

 


See also:

Extension of State snooping cannot be allowed to happen on the Lib Dems’ watch 4 Apr 2012


 

Ashdown’s intervention in the debate is the latest embodiment of Liberal opposition to the illiberal plans, which, as he points out, are a clear contradiction of the coalition agreement (pdf), that states:

We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.

We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion… We will introduce safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation. We will further regulate CCTV. We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason.

If the plans continue, and Clegg fails once again to stand up to Cameron, expect more opposition; as Prateek Buch, executive member of the Social Liberal Forum, wrote on Left Foot Forward last week:

There’s a matter of liberal principle that the coalition needs to accept. These proposals apparently stem from the desire to stamp out criminal and terrorist activity.

But in seeking to safeguard our safety, liberals believe that the balance between civil liberties and State surveillance should be extended in favour of the former, that the very values and way of life we seek to protect should not be jeopardised in capitulating to an authoritarian security lobby.

Should the power to monitor, without oversight and scrutiny, how we communicate with each other be extended and not put back in its box as it should be, the government will set a dangerously illiberal precedent – and that simply can’t be allowed to happen on the Lib Dems’ watch.

 


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22 Responses to “Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans”

  1. Shamik Das

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/vYcA41XY

  2. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans http://t.co/jPKdV6sJ

  3. John Baxter

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/vYcA41XY

  4. Geoff Walker

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/vYcA41XY

  5. Selohesra

    I dont really see what all the fuss is about – I’ve got nothing to hide. Didnt really object to Labours ID cards either except on basis of cost.

  6. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans http://t.co/132Phj4u

  7. Me

    99% of serious crimes like murder, child abuse, rape, assault etc occur within the home. Given this fact and your “nothing to hide” stance you’ll have no objections to cctv inside your house.

  8. Selohesra

    I think there is a difference between someone seeing which websites I visit and someone watching me on the bog or (on very rare occaisions) doing jiggy-jiggy with my wife.

  9. Me

    But what if you are accused of rape? How can women be protected and the ridiculously low conviction rate of rapists be remedied unless we have video evidence?

    Remember, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

  10. Hens4Freedom

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/4yiQ0kZN #NewsClub

  11. Anonymous

    And why should I care, Mr. Ashdown? Cabinet Collective Responsibility, I remind you. Your party is guilty of all kinds of things based on policy “not your own”.

  12. Pierre Girard

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/vYcA41XY

  13. ElaineSco

    Left Foot Forward – Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans http://t.co/jPKdV6sJ

  14. Robert Sparey

    RT @leftfootfwd Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans, reports @ShamikDas: http://t.co/8HJ6ohQK

  15. Gurpreet Singh

    http://t.co/It17sK1l Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans

  16. Billb

    This whole fiasco just goes to show that, which ever government is in power, they will eventually become no more that the mouth pieces of shadowy forces who believe they actually run the country.

  17. Ed's Talking Balls

    Frighteningly blase. Personally, I hold firm to the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty. I want to keep it that way.

  18. newsblok

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans http://t.co/Zdb5uVc4

  19. PJ London

    Apparently Mr Buch also believes in the Tooth Fairy and, if he is very good, Santa will bring him a Choo-choo.

    “These proposals apparently stem from the desire to stamp out ”

    The only ” criminal and terrorist activity” that will be stamped out, is opposition to the ridiculous charade of our 3 political parties and thereby the faux democracy.

  20. PJ London

    Perhaps you would care to read 1984, George Orwell. Suppose that the web-site that you visit, has steganography, used to transmit plans, by (american) terrorists, you would be happy to be held in Guantanamo (or better still, Bagram) and interrogated in an enhanced manner for a couple of years. And yes, our government will be happy to co-operate in your rendition, as they have the evidence of your probable guilt.

  21. Alexander Higgins

    Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans http://t.co/YNGzOsE4
    via @kr3at

  22. Freedom of speech and the freedom to Tweet | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • Ashdown turns up heat on Clegg to abandon State snooping plans 12 Apr […]

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