Former Home Secretaries Demand Revival Of Snoopers’ Charter

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Labour’s Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson tell Lib Dems to stop opposing Communications Data Bill

A group of former home secretaries has urged the Liberal Democrats to stop fighting the controversial Communications Data Bill, known to cynics as Snoopers’ Charter.

The bill, which would allow widespread collection of communications information from any service provider, is being blocked by the deputy prime minister, but since the murder of Lee Rigby, allegedly by extremists, politicians have vociferously called for it to be put back on the table.

Online surveillance © - Fotolia.comThe Snoopers’ Charter would allow the government to ask service providers, from ISPs like BT to Internet giants like Facebook and Skype, to store and make available data on how customers are interacting, but not the content of their messages.

Snoopers’ Charter, round 2

In a cross-party letter in The Times today, former Labour home secretaries Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson all called for Snoopers’ Charter to be revived. Conservatives Lord Baker, Lord King and Lord Carlile also signed the letter, which claimed Clegg was putting lives at risk by opposing the bill.

“Coalition niceties must not get in the way of giving our security services the capabilities they need to stay one step ahead of those that seek to destroy our society,” they wrote.

“Far from being a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’, as critics allege, the draft bill seeks to match our crime fighting capabilities to the advances in technologies.”

This push comes despite the public outcry around the US government’s PRISM data collection from major Internet companies and its once-secret deal with Verizon to get hold of all of its customers’ comms information.

As noted by Big Brother Watch, several of the signatories backed the ID Card scheme that faced a backlash from the privacy conscious, before being canned by the Tories in 2010.

The organisation said the government should not succumb to “scaremongering… on the question of whether in modern Britain we want the state to be undertaking blanket monitoring of our emails, web browsing and social media messages”.

Tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, have voiced their concerns about the proposals, saying they would be cumbersome and costly.

Meanwhile, the UK has told airlines that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is unlikely to be granted entry to the country.

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