Communications snooping proposals – letter to MP

Dear Mr. Lazarowicz,

I am a university-educated IT professional living within your constituency. I write to you today to express my disgust at the announcements made yesterday regarding the massive expansion of the online and cellular surveillance programme – RIPA – which may be part of Her Majesty’s speech in May. Leaked briefing notes suggest that the Liberal Democrats will support it, in spite of their coalition agreement – “We will end the storage of Internet and email records without good reason.”

My opinion is thus: this scheme is a violation of our human right to privacy. Such measures are also easily defeated by anyone with sufficient knowledge of Internet and cellular communications technology – terrorists and criminals can avoid such surveillance with a little discipline; all the while the privacy of innocents is indexed and susceptible to data-mining. As for policing, an argument could easily be made that the current system of surveillance authorised by judges when there is reasonable suspicion works, and gives police the powers they need. Personally, I believe the illiberal RIPA should be repealed.

The proposal may also backfire spectacularly, as means to defeat surveillance become common knowledge and are used far more frequently. Journalists, other investigative personnel, protesters and privacy-conscious citizens who have broken no laws and use encryption, proxies and anonymising technologies will be under undue state suspicion. Furthermore we can ill afford to pay for another inevitable failed government IT white elephant, particularly while the Chancellor continues doing precious little to stimulate economic growth, jobs and borrows far more than projected.

I further expect this scheme to be tendered out to the private sector. Perhaps Rupert Murdoch might be interested in bankrolling it, since mass interception of private communications seems to be in his interests.

Thanks to the eternally useful website, The Public Whip, I note you overwhelmingly supported the identity cards charade, but rebelled against the Digital Economy Act after consulting with your constituents. I know not the politics of defying a three-line whip, but thank you. What links these matters is thus: civil liberties are real, and are matters which people care about. Nevertheless, I would like you to clarify your position on this matter, and as my representative, to take on board my opinion. Further information about how this scheme differs from prior efforts would be appreciated.

You may reach me on this email address, or via post if you wish to discuss it further.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Macdonald
–> snip address.


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