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Lib Dem MPs write letter over surveillance plan concerns

Sixteen Liberal Democrat MPs have sent a letter to The Guardian, in which they have outlined their concerns over the government's proposed changes to surveillance laws

Following worrying reports of possible government proposals to collect real time information on people's activity online, including from social media sites, we are pleased to hear the deputy prime minister making clear his commitment to civil liberties and protecting privacy, and confirming that the Government will publish draft legislation with sufficient time for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny."

The MPs who signed the letter are: Julian Huppert, Annette Brooke, Malcolm Bruce, Mike Crockart, Andrew George, Mike Hancock, John Leech, Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Alan Reid, Adrian Sanders, Ian Swales, David Ward, Mark Williams, Roger Williams.


Home Affairs Committee to question May over surveillance laws

Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said Theresa May would be questioned by MPs over her plan to bring in new surveillance laws on April 24.

The Home Office intends to bring in powers that would allow emails, texts and website visits to be monitored.

The committee is looking forward to questioning the Home Secretary on a number of issues, in particular the Government's proposals to introduce laws allowing the monitoring of all emails, texts and web use in the UK."

– Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee

Civil liberties group hits back at Clegg over surveillance laws

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "The Deputy Prime Minister can hardly criticise 'inaccurate speculation' when controversial policies are recycled and leaked to the media rather than published for proper consultation.

"Whether it's shutting down open courts or subjecting the whole population to a Snoopers' Charter, the public will not be reassured by 'trust me, I'm a minister'."

Clegg: Important people hold off making judgements about surveillance laws

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC Radio 4 World at One Programme: "I think it is very important people hold off making their judgement until they see the proposals.

"There has been a lot of speculation, some of it inaccurate, over the last couple of days. I happen to think it is right to have a debate about what we do as a society as criminals exploit new technologies.

"People should be reassured were are not going to ram something through Parliament. All along we will be guided by some very simple principles."


Miliband warns PM to 'get a grip on Government'

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Once again we see a very sensitive issue being spectacularly mishandled by this Government.

"It is unclear what they are proposing. It is unclear what it means for people. It is always going to lead to fears about general browsing of people's emails unless they are clear about their proposals, clear about what they would mean, clear about how they are changing the law.

"And I say to the Prime Minister: he has got to get a grip on this Government. He has got to get a grip on the way his Government operates and the way that policy is made."

Yvette Cooper warns 'serious safeguards' needed to protect privacy

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "We know that the police and security services who are trying to tackle serious terrorist incidents, of course, need to be able keep up with modern technology.

"We also need serious safeguards in place to protect people's privacy, to make sure there are checks and balances and that nothing is abused."

New monitoring laws 'as soon as parliamentary time allows'

A Home Office spokesperson said: "As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the Government's approach to civil liberties.”

They said it was "vital" police and security services could obtain communications data, including time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address, in certain circumstances.

But added this did not included the content of any phone call or e-mail and "and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications."

What the papers say about the Government's surveillance plans

  • The Guardian: Internet firms warn that government plans to monitor email and social media use in Britain are liable to be used by repressive regimes elsewhere in the world to justify their state surveillance.
  • Daily Mail: Big Brother plans to spy on all internet visits, emails and texts will cost the taxpayer £2billion.
  • Daily Telegraph: Government plans to access details of every email and website sent in Britain would be an impractical waste of money that would make the UK more like China and Iran, a leading British technology expert has said.
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