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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Labour revert to type on civil liberties

In many ways we should not be surprised that the new Corbynite Labour Party is adopting a Blairite approach to civil liberties, and will not oppose the draconian Investigatory Powers Bill being proposed by Theresa May.

The Independent reports that Labour MPs will abstain in a vote on the Government’s latest so-called “Snooper’s Charter”:

The proposed bill requires internet companies to hold records about which web pages all internet users have visited for a year, whether they are suspected of a crime or not.

The law would also require technology companies to bypass users’ encryption software and explicitly gives the security services to hack and bug private citizens’ computers.

Campaigners have warned the latter provision could lead to the effective outlawing of messaging services like iMessage, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, which use full end-to-end encryption.

Tim Farron has promised to lead the fight against the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The Liberal Democrats will table amendments to the legislation in an attempt to give judges, rather than ministers, the power to authorise warrants to intercept the contents of people’s communications and hack computers. Mrs May proposed a “double-lock” under which ministers could approve warrants in urgent cases, with their action reviewed later by judges.

He is damning about the role of the Labour Party in this legislation: Tim Farron told The Independent: "The Home Secretary has created a sham of judicial authorisation that doesn't fool me, the public or the experts. It is an utter disgrace.”

He added: “The Labour Party is even worse though. It is acting like Conservatives on this Bill and just acquiescing. It is about as useful as a nodding dog. The Liberal Democrats will make sure the public's concerns are heard. You can't rely on Labour or the Tories to stand up for our hard won civil liberties."

The Lib Dems will also seek “redress” for individuals who are no longer under suspicion, under which people would be told they had been under surveillance unless there were a specific reason to maintain secrecy. The United States, Germany and Belgium have such a provision, the Lib Dems say. “You can’t seek justice if you never know you’ve been spied on,” said a party source.

Farron's approach is the right one. Conservatives cannot be trusted to look after our civil liberties. It seems that Corbyn's Labour Party cannot be trusted either.
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