The UK is currently one of the worst countries in Europe when it comes to pushing online surveillance laws (if not the worst). Don’t let them get away with more of this bullshit without voicing your opposition. Now’s the time to press a few buttons in the name of online privacy.
If you’re from the UK and you’re reading this blog post then you probably have already heard of the UK government’s attempt to rush through new online surveillance measures, in a move that has been widely condemned by activists and privacy conscious politicians as undemocratic and non-transparent. The legislation is now heading into the House of Commons. If you care about this stuff there are two really quick things you can do to make sure you express your opposition!
What is the problem?
Super quick recap:
- The EU implemented the EU Data Retention Directive in 2006. This forced all ISPs in Europe to store the data of customers for your entire subscription period, plus two years after your subscription ends. So basically there’s a record of every domain you’ve visited sitting with your ISP.
- In April the EU Court of Justice finally ruled that this draconian law was a violation of human rights.
- With the Data Retention Directive on its way out, the UK is now trying to push through the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill to replace it. DRIP basically does all the bad things the EU legislation did and even worse stuff.
What should you do?
There’s two things you can do right now:
1. Send a personal email to your MP
This is where you can find out who your local MP is. Once you find this information email your MP with a personal message (or even better call them), explaining that **you are opposed to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill. **
It’s important to make the message personal. You can also make it very short, just a couple of paragraphs. But here’s a quick outline of the main points you might want to address (edit: also make sure you say the bill is being put to the House of Commons within 24 hours):
- Tell your MP you support the amendment that has been tabled by Tom Watson MP, Caroline Lucas MP, and David Davis MP. This amendment brings the bill’s “sunset clause” forward to December 31, so that Parliament has a chance to debate its provisions at the end of this year.
- The EU Court of Justice recently ruled blanket data retention incompatible with human rights legislation. This means the EU-wide Data Retention Directive – which was implemented almost a decade ago – will be scrapped or reformed soon. Also point out that a number of European countries, including Germany, never implemented the Data Retention Directive in the first place because they found it violated human rights.
- There is no need to rush through emergency legislation. This bill – especially in the light of Edward Snowden’s revelations concerning GCHQ’s online monitoring – needs proper scrutiny.
2. Email the committee of MPs who are reviewing the legislation.
You’ve got until Thursday to do this. Follow the link over here - 38 Degrees have a handy template and email submission form. Or you can copy and paste the email you sent to your MP.
Obviously parliament is dominated by three parties who all support data retention, so this is an uphill struggle. But it’s important to let them know there’s a sizable portion of the UK online community who is opposed to such draconian surveillance laws. There are MP’s on our side. Let’s stop being such pushovers when it comes to online privacy. If enough MPs are swayed then hopefully they’ll vote for Tom Watson’s amendment and it can buy us more breathing space. Go forth and complain!