Yesterday in the debate on the timetabling of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, I said:

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): The subject of the Bill is of profound importance to members of the public who care about such matters, and no wonder because it is the paradigmatic example of the conflict between the rights of the individual and the power of the state as enabled by technology. The Bill can be understood only in the context of the very worst crimes that our country and society face, but it is not hysterical for those who flatly oppose these kinds of measures to do so. The very worst crimes in all human history were perpetrated by states against their citizens, and we must be extremely careful about how we allow technology to infringe on our rights. If anybody wishes to see just how important that is, I recommend that they look at the transcript of the trial of Albert Speer at Nuremberg, which I put online with Big Brother Watch some time ago.

In any event, if somebody supports this Bill as an emergency measure, the key problem is that the timetabling will undermine the public’s confidence. Many people across the country think that the state is advancing too far and too fast in putting everybody under surveillance, and banging through this measure so quickly will undermine their confidence further. The Government will have more work to do to win them back, and I very much wish that they had given us far more time to discuss this measure.

The Big Brother Watch article is here. I am concerned about the prospects for liberty and privacy in a world which combines both advancing technology and the most appalling criminality.

It is now a subject to which we will return in the next Parliament.


  1. Qadeer Ahmed

    Fully agree with you Steve on this it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war.
    Suddenly it is a priority, he said, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. “It defies belief.”
    The urgency with which the British government was moving is extraordinary and it mirrored a similar move in the US in 2007 when the Bush administration was forced to introduce legislation, the Protect America Act, citing the same concerns about terrorist threats and the NSA losing cooperation from telecom and internet companies.
    Knowing how NSA abused it’s position there is clearly a worry that our security services will do the same.
    These laws must be passed with safe guards in place to protect the public from our own security services. The more powers they are given less accountable they become.

  2. Mohsin Ashfaq

    The way MPs in the UK, and those in power in the US, have been describing the violence has been disappointing. Unfortunately, both William Hague and yourself seem to be following the trend.
    Everyone will agree that the violence needs to stop, and the cost to civilian life for either side is tragic.
    However, when discussing how the violence spawned, everyone seems to be forgetting a few key points.
    It did not simply start with the unfortunate, and tragic murder of the 3 Isreali teenagers, followed by the revenge attack on the Palestinian boy.
    Tensions regarding this current round of violence go back further than that. You forget to mention the crimes the Isreali government, backed by the US, is doing almost everyday in the region, where they are promoting illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is to FURTHER their occupation of Palestine, an occupation which began in 1948. I mention this crime first, because this cannot be denied by either side involved in the conflict. However, if you look beyond the mainstream media, such as Sky News and the BBC, who seem to have their own specific agenda, and instead read news related to the situation you will find articles of kidnappings committed by the Isreali Gov. in Palestine regularly.
    The Palestinian people, and Hamas, have been provoked into the reaction, but the provocation is never reported.
    Furthermore, it is widely agreed, within the region, that Hamas was not involved in the murder of the 3 teenagers, something which they have also condemned and denied.
    Isreal seems to have used the murder of its citizens as an excuse to attack Hamas.
    Hamas was the democratically elected party in the region, they were involved in politics! Some would say they had more right to rule over Palestine than the conservative party has to rule over the UK, as the majority of people actually voted for them! They have been trying to prove that they are not radical for years.
    It begs the question, do Isreal’s actions cause Hamas to become radical? I think so.
    Furthermore, Hamas passed over responsibility of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority in June, and since then, it has been the responsibility of the PA to control any rocket fire outside of their territory.

    Finally, you talk of a Two State Solution? One that has been widely backed by the United Nations. Has Hamas not compromised and accepted the two state solution? In fact they recently proposed it again to Isreal during this latest violence, Isreal has been the one rejecting the proposal.

    So please, don’t take your constituents to be so uneducated in the matter. We’re smart enough to see through what is said by members of Parliament in matters like this, as they will only speak in a manner that supports their specific agenda.