Snooper's Charter petition: don't let the government transform GB into KGB

If you're as outraged as I am that the UK Coalition government is planning on spending £1.8B to spy on every click, IM, email and Facebook update, without a warrant under the Draft Communications Data Bill, then please consider visiting the Open Rights Group's petition page where we're gathering signatures to present to MPs. The Coalition is deeply divided on this issue, and there's a very good chance we'll be able to put paid to this proposal just as we did with Labour's national ID scheme, but not without your help.

Yesterday the Government unveiled the 'Communications Data Bill'. It's a proposal for more powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online. Your communications via Google, Facebook or Skype would be open to what may be a large number of government officials. You can help! Please email your MP and tell them why you want to see the powers to collect and access communications data tightened up, not extended ever further.

Don't forget that ORG is running nationwide workshops to help you meet effectively with your MP to lobby them on this issue and on Internet censorship.

Snooper's Charter: write to your MP

(Disclosure: I am proud to have co-founded the Open Rights Group and to volunteer on its advisory board)


    1.  Violated? Don’t you mean ‘temporarily suspended for the public protection’ along with all of the other post EU-agreed-enshrined freedom suspensions since 2001?

      1. Haha, it is like that, they say you have your freedoms, they are just not available at this time. Try back later kthxbai!

        1. “The vendor regrets that your civil liberties are out of stock. Please be assured that – should the weather improve – they will be placed immediately on back-order.”

    1.  Don’t think so. 38D collects names, but ORG forwards your petition directly to your MP.

  1. I’m hoping this will be defeated. But only because I kind of expect governments and states to whimsically peek at our communications any time they like anyway, regardless of any wet/pansy/milquetoast laws against it, and if they’re caught doing it we get punitive damages (at the taxpayer’s expense of course, which is bad, but watcha gonna do?).

  2. Isn’t it somewhat ironic that the UK Government that is currently in trouble for courting media that monitored people illegally is now seeking to make tracking of almost everything legal?

    “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” – Richard Nixon.

    ““I’m so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a personal friend but also because professionally we are all in this together.” – Rebekah Brooks, to David Cameron, British Prime Minister.

  3. Someone should sneak in an amendment that public servants and elected officials records are open to the public all the time.  Nothing to hide and all of that…. still think its a good idea when random people can trawl through your life with no good reason?  Its often fun to see the little light dawn on them that the law applies to them as well.

  4. You could have named the bill, you could have linked to it so people could make their own minds up. But instead you ask people to protest a bill based on your interpretation, and give them information not on the content but on how to effectively protest.

    Anybody capable of independent thought: the bill is the Draft Communications Data Bill and you can read it here:

    1. Thanks. Beautiful how it is worded, that it so often excludes the need for a warrant, until a warrant is needed.

      It is a huge phishing trip. I hope they pack a lunch.

  5. FWIW, I think this is a terrible bill. But please compare the following statement from the bill with what Cory wrote:

    “Communications data is information about a communication; it can include the details of the time, duration, originator and recipient of a communication; but not the content of the communication itself.” ( p6)

    Do you think this allows the government to read your Facebook updates?

    1. You’ve conflated “spy on” with “read.” There is no good distinction between “metadata” and “content.” URLs can be used to re-retrieve data and carry clues to their content through RESTful arguments, email subject lines and thread identifiers reveal enormous data about their payloads, etc. The fact that you use Facebook X times/day is itself content. Lawful access to Facebook will likely include who you interacted with, and how often, and where they were in your network, etc. This is assuredly content — it’s about 95% of what Facebook is.

       The artificial distinction between “content” and “metadata” is a smokescreen to hide the extent to which the data harvested and retained (and accessed without a warrant) will contain real, compromising, personal, private information.

      1. Fair point that “spy on” is not the same as “read”. I wonder how many of your readers will make that distinction?

        You list many of the reasons why I dislike the bill. I wish this is what you’d said in the OP.

  6. The government are spinning this as  business as usual, but it’s a huge expansion.

    Snooped data will include data which “identifies data as comprised in, attached to or logically associated with the communication.” In other words, every link you clicked on. So without a warrant, the police will know, for example, not just what newspaper you read, but which articles you read.

  7. Chrome tells me that the link at the bottom of this article, the one that goes to the openrightsgroup page, contains “insecure content”. What’s that all about, then?

  8. From the 1940s a lyric: Who’s going to watch the man, the man that’s going to watch the man, the man that’s going to watch me?
    From Animal Farm: All the animals are equal except some are more equal than others.

  9. Read about this in USA Today’s brief coverage (that great paper of mediocrity) and one of the (few) money quotes came from a British government spokesperson that said, “Unless you’re a criminal then you’ve nothing to worry about from this new law.”  This mindset is one I’ve never been able to fathom, and despite having a mischievous side, I’m no criminal (and I resent the implication).

  10. As (Conservative!) MP David Davis rightly points out, this is a law which will effect everyone except the criminals — who are smart enough to work around it.

    Oh, okay, I’m hazarding that most people *here* are smart enough to work around it too.  I certainly will be, for as long as it doesn’t make me a target, anyway.

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