Back to the drawing board? How you can help ensure the government learns from serious criticism of the Investigatory Powers Bill

Illustration of architect standing by drawing board. Source unknown - From an 1893 technical journal, now in the public domain

Last week, the government suffered a setback in their plans to introduce  extensive new surveillance and hacking powers through the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Two of the three three committees set up to scrutinise the bill, the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Joint Committee, published reports calling on the government to make significant changes before the law is passed. These reports followed in the wake of the serious criticism of the bill by the Science and Technology Committee, whose chair called on the “urgently review the legislation“.

The core team at Open Rights Group have produced a good analysis of the Joint Committee recommendations, including justifying bulk surveillance powers, clarifying internet connection records, safeguarding encryption and removing Bulk Data Sets from the bill.

What happens next?

In line with other civil society organisations, the Open Rights Group believes the Home Office needs to address the recommendations of all three reports and undertake a major re-write of the Bill before it is laid before Parliament.

Currently, the government remains committed to passing the legislation before the end of 2016 but, given the extent of the criticism the bill has received, there is a very real possibility this date could slip.

What can you do to help?

You can help keep up the pressure on the government by contacting your local MP. Let them know you are concerned about the Investigatory Powers Bill and the issues raised by all three committees.

You don’t have to write a big long email or letter. Simply let your MP know that the government needs to learn the lessons from all three committee reports and re-write the bill. If possible, try to include links to where your MP can find more information. The Open Rights Group website is a great place to start.

You can quickly and easily email your MP using the free writetothem.com service.

It’s really important that each and everyone of us speaks out. The more emails and letters MPs receive about the Investigatory Powers Bill, the more seriously they will take it.

Please do let us know how you get on with contacting your MP. You can do so by commenting below this post, sending us a message on Twitter @OpenRightsBrum or telling us at one of our regular meetups.

 

 

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