Left Central’s John Curran
Image © utnapistimC
The following interview was conducted with Jim Killock Executive Director of Open Rights Group in which he outlines the approach his pressure group are taking in resisting Home Office proposals to introduce a draft data communications bill aka snooper’s charter.
- If you could highlight the most important features of your campaign what would they be?
Open Rights Group’s campaign is primarily about public engagement – in order to show that the draft Data Communications Bill is an unpopular and highly intrusive breach of UK citizen’s human rights. What we have learnt by talking to Parliamentarians is that many people across the political spectrum share our views and object to these proposals and are concerned about this intrusion into our civil liberties. The big push for this legislation is coming from the narrow confines of the Home Office. We have to counter the information coming from this direction and educate both the politicians and public that the Home Office is wrong.
- So the Home Office are exclusively responsible for this draft proposal?
The Home Office claims their ability to get hold of data is declining and that they are struggling to keep up. That is how the issue is portrayed, although such a view is in reality difficult to sustain. The trouble is, certain sections of government want to find more out more and more about its citizens. This can cascade into a very significant intrusion and breach UK citizens civil liberties.
Online data is a honey pot for the Home Office and for the Police. They see the draft measure as an opportunity to get hold of more information and the criminal justice angle is a convenient prop for government to hang on to. It is easy to claim that crime can only be solved in this way when they want to sell this type of legislation to the public.
- The draft Communications Data Bill seems unstoppable what can be done to halt this legislation?
Well I don’t necessarily agree with the premise of your question. Yes, there is a very strong push for this legislation but as I have said it is coming from one government department, the Home Office. There is no overall political consensus operating behind the scenes. One government department has made its case but that is all.
Remember we are talking about a coalition government and many Liberal Democrats do not want this draft bill, and there are significant sections of the Conservative Party that are against it also. It is possible to defeat this government on this issue in a vote. When a government operates with a slim majority individual MPs have significant influence and their views matter. This is not like the days when New Labour had a massive majority and the executive was largely unrestrained. Even a relatively small rebellion could stop this draft proposal, so the Coalition must listen to its backbenchers. Read more of this post