Snooper's Charter is dead! (for now)

Aw, yeah! The UK Communications Data Bill -- AKA the "Snooper's Charter," a sweeping, totalitarian universal Internet surveillance bill that the Conservative government had sworn to pass -- is dead! Yesterday, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Parliament, announced that his party would not support the bill, and effectively killed it. Though I've been bitterly disappointed with some of the terminal compromises the LibDems have made, this makes me grateful to have them in Parliament. The kind of universal surveillance proposed in the Snooper's Charter was broadly supported by the last Labour government, which radically expanded state surveillance powers, and by the Tories -- thank goodness for the LibDems mustering a scrap of backbone at last!

The only downside is that the Open Rights Group had a whole series of great "Professor Elemental" videos that used pointed, excellent humour to mock and undermine the bill and drum up opposition to it, and now that's all going to go to waste (I blogged episode one yesterday).

Aw, who'm I kidding? This kind of thing never stays dead.

The snooper's charter has reminded Nick Clegg, finally, he is a liberal


    1. Their crimes are too numerous. It is like saying Mussolini made the trains run on time. Okay, maybe not that. I mean, Clegg hasn’t actually invaded anywhere yet or authorised the use of poison gas on the civilian population; but give him time.

      1.  Don’t worry, I’ve already pledged to hate them forever for crimes against the NHS.

  1. I think that Julian Huppert is worth a shout out here; once he was dealing with this for the party, I knew which way the internal recommendation would fall. He’s the LD MP for Cambridge, and a is tech-friendly bio post-doc from the Uni who also used to be on the Liberty board. Oh, and he was one of the few LD MPs who voted against university fee increases as a matter of principle.

    You should be hitting him up as an ally, Cory.

    1. Except that this has nothing whatsoever to do with university top up fees. People that do things purely as a matter of principle are fools. “Principle” is just an intellectual short cut which often works, but equally often fails.

      1. I think ‘was one of only a few to stick to a commitment made pre-election’ is quite a relevant point here though. It’s also why I mentioned it as an aside rather than as the main point.

        1. That was sort of my point. I very much think that politicians should respond to reality, not their manifesto. My personal opinion on top-up fees aside, it’s hard to argue that it’s not a complex problem.

          1. Then how are the electorate supposed to know what they are voting for? I’d argue that ignoring manifesto commitments as a general thing breaks democracy.

          2. Vote Blue Tie or Red Tie (though it is really the same as Blue Tie) or Yellow Tie (though they are now tainted by association with Blue Tie) or Red, White and Blue Tie ( though they are only saying openly what Blue Tie thinks) or vote Black Tie (its a wasted vote, but Anarchists would look good in dinner jackets).

          3.  Yes, because manifestos are renowned for having well thought out and effective policy as opposed to policies designed to bribe the electorate. Heaven forbid the electorate actually gets to influence policy; it would be a disaster. Most people’s knowledge about much of what is currently hot extends as far as their own self interest. Effective democracy is about getting rid of incumbents, which it does rather well.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think this is both a bad and depressing state of affairs; I just have very little faith in the electorate to do better.

          4. Slightly less cynically than my other post, the more specific point is that very often manifestos are written without complete information, or with a view espousing a particularly position of principle. I really want the politicians representing me to be able to respond to the reality of the world and not stick blindly to a manifesto promise. For some reason, a politician changing their mind in response to new or revealed evidence is deemed a bad thing. This has to change; it should be celebrated rather than mocked.

          5. If you believe that Red Tie would have gutted the benefits system, cut top rate tax while doing so, advanced a referendum on being in or out of the EU, literally bussed people out of London to meet housing benefit cuts and privatised their signature achievement NHS, then why yes! 

            Yeah. Just the same.

  2. I too was surprised by the recent posts given my Lib Dem MP (Duncan Hames) had assured me it was dead having asked questions in Parliament.

    However, I wonder if Nick Clegg’s backbone on this has developed as no one, except theloonies , really has the appetite to spend the money to make this happen. So this way the Lib Dems get to look good for once and David Cameron can go to the loonies in the party and say “wasn’t me!”

    Hmmmm….. Still good news really. Thanks for keeping us informed on this Cory.

  3. On the downside, the NHS was, effectively, privatised with absolutely no mention of the matter in the mainstream media (the main item on the news being that boy band JLS have spot up). No valiant stand by Clegg there…

  4. NICE! Now we can go back to feeding our most intimate data into our Android and Apple phones! Because government should never have access to our information, only private corporations should have that.

    1. In fairness, you get to opt out from private companies and they don’t have armies and police to make you not do so.

      1. True, a good point. But no one has to have a phone, nor do they have to have the internet. Or TV. Or video games. Privacy always dissipates a bit when you choose to engage with any digital network that you did not yourself build or manage.

        But I’m just being argumentative. There have been and will be a lot of bills out there that should never be passed. 

  5. I’ll believe Nick Clegg if we get to the next general election and the bill is still dead.

Comments are closed.