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MPs slam draft Communications Data Bill

Kathleen Hall

MPs have slammed plans to give the Home Secretary carte blanche to retain any type of data in the draft Communications Data Bill dubbed ‘the Snoopers’ Charter’.

In a Joint Committee the MPs and Lords concluded that the draft Bill must be significantly narrowed. The costs of the draft Bill would exceed the predicted £1.8bn by a “considerable margin," they said.

Lord Blencathra, chair of the Joint Committee, said: “There needs to be some substantial re-writing of the Bill before it is brought before Parliament as we feel that there is a case for legislation, but only if it strikes a better balance between the needs of law enforcement and other agencies and the right to privacy.”

He added: “The breadth of the draft Bill as it stands appears to be overkill and is much wider than the specific needs identified by the law enforcement agencies.”

Peter Bradwell, from online civil liberties body The Open Rights Group, said: “It adds up to a damning indictment of the proposals and how they were put together. The cross-party committee examined this draft Bill in extreme detail and with great care over the past six months. And they have found the Bill did not bear such scrutiny.

“Two things should happen now. We think it's time to drop these dangerous plans and for the government to go back to the drawing board. Second, we need a fundamental, public review of digital surveillance. That's the only way we'll arrive at reasonable, proportionate proposals.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: "This legislation is vital to help catch paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals and we are pleased both scrutiny committees have recognised the need for new laws.

"We have now considered the committees' recommendations carefully and we will accept the substance of them all. But there can be no delay to this legislation. It is needed by law enforcement agencies now.”


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