I have many concerns regarding this draft bill which is why I have made an urgent representation to Theresa May, the Home Secretary to urge her to review the provisions of this bill. I also wrote an article for Labour List presenting my deep reservations with this bill in more detail, which can be found here. I attended the Second Reading of this bill on Tuesday 15 March to urge Government to respond to the numerous concerns I have with this bill- you can watch my intervention here.
Whilst I support the principle of an up-to-date and comprehensive legal framework to enable the Police and security services to have the powers they need in the digital age to prevent and investigate serious crime; I have a number of concerns regarding proposed changes to surveillance and data retention laws.
Firstly, instead of tightening the criteria for the use of the most intrusive powers, the Bill appears to lower the threshold and allow the authorities to gain access to them in a much broader range of circumstances. I do not believe that the Government has adequately justified this extension to date, and this is something that I will be asking for reassurance on.
Furthermore, the widening of access to Internet Connection Records (ICRs) in the Bill is a particular area of concern and it will be important for Parliament to consider whether the powers in relation to the collection and use of ICRs are proportionate and justified.
This legislation will have major implications for privacy, and how we are governed and policed. It is, therefore, crucial to take time to get this right. I believe it is important to take a responsible and constructive approach in working with the Government.
I share the view of my colleagues Andy Burnham MP, the Shadow Home Secretary and Sir Keir Starmer MP who have been leading on this issue for Labour, that substantial changes are needed to provisions within the bill before it becomes wholly acceptable. Labour did not oppose the bill at its Second Reading to allow it to go before a Bill Committee to scrutinize its provisions in more detail. If we remain unsatisfied with the bill following the recommendations of the Bill Committee we shall vote against it and encourage Members of the House of Lords to do the same.