The Deputy PM Lays Down the Law Over Digital Snooper Charter

By Chris Mills on at

Our erstwhile Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, is NOT HAPPY about the "snooper's charter" bill that our Conservative overlords want to foist on us. In no uncertain terms, he's informed the Home Secretary herself that "we cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board". Them's fighting words, boy.

You may be familiar with the so-called Snooper's Charter. It's a big 'ole piece of legislation that gives the government the ability to see who you contacted; what you were looking at, and for how long. Naturally, it has the more liberal parts of the government up in arms. Now, opponents of the bill have a bit of ammunition on their side: a "high-powered" committee of MPs and peers have produced a report on the bill: it's "overkill" and it "tramples on the privacy of British citizens". Blimey.

That's not all though: everyone's favourite Deputy PM (assuming you've heard of him, of course) is also championing the anti-snooper's cause, telling the Home Secretary and associated hangers-on that the bill SHALL NOT PASS. (Though he may have said it with less of a Gandalf-esque shout, and more of a strongly-worded letter.)

Overall, I reckon that this is a Good Thing. Whilst I rationally accept that these are the sorts of tools the government probably needs in the war against terrorism/kidnapping/rape, it's also a fairly shocking invasion of privacy -- imagine if the government scanned all your letters, and then kept copies for a year. Yes, the legislation is only intended for use against terrorists, but then again so were the stop-and-search powers given to the police under the Terrorism Act 2000, and they've been used around 100,000 times to stop people to date -- I'm willing to bet all those people weren't really terrorists.

No, I don't have anything to hide about the sites I visit, and I'm not of the tinfoil-hat brigade who believe that the government is going all 1984 on us. But why tempt the police? So, I genuinely hope the Deputy PM makes a stand over this. Currently, the Communications Data Bill has a ways to go to make it to reality. I, for one, am hoping it never gets there. [Guardian]