Last-minute attempt to insert surveillance clauses into anti-terror bill

"It is one of the oldest tricks in the book, you cannot get something enshrined in law and so you hide it amongst the reams of lawyer speak as an amendment. This is what appears to be happening with 17 pages of amendments that have just been put forward as amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill by four members of The House of Lords."

- Survelliance creep by back door legislation (thinkbroadband, link)

The amendments concern the retention of communications data by telecommunications provider and are "nearly identical" to clauses contained in the Communications Data Bill (popularly known as the Snoopers' Charter), which Liberal Democrats in the coalition government opposed and subsequently said was "dead and buried".

The Open Rights Group notes that:

"The draft Communications Data Bill, which is inserted by the amendment in nearly identitical form, was scrutinised by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a year.

"The Committee agreed unanimously that the draft was inappropriate. None of their concerns are addressed in the clauses presented."

- Abuse of Parliamentary procedure: introducing the Comms Data Bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill (Open Rights Group)

The report by the Joint Committee on the Communications Data Bill (pdf) concluded:

"Our overall conclusion is that there is a case for legislation which will provide the law enforcement authorities with some further access to communications data, but that the current draft Bill is too sweeping, and goes further than it need or should. We believe that, with the benefit of fuller consultation with CSPs than has so far taken place, the Government will be able to devise a more proportionate measure than the present draft Bill, which would achieve most of what they really need, would encroach less upon privacy, would be more acceptable to the CSPs, and would cost the taxpayer less. We make detailed recommendations accordingly on the content of a revised Bill."

The lengthy and dense amendments (pdf) been proposed by Lord King of Bridgwater, Lord Blair of Boughton, Lord West of Spithead, and Lord Carlile of Beriew.

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