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A letter from Dawn

Dawn Primarolo MP. Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Regular readers will recall that some time ago Bristol Wireless wrote to its local MP, Dawn Primarolo about the draft Communications Data Bill, aka the Snooper’s Charter (news passim).

We have now received a reply from Dawn, which states the following:

Thank you very much for your letter in connection with the draft Communications Data Bill. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

As you might expect, a number of residents have written to me to express their concerns about the Bill, and I have previously raised these concerns with Ministers. I enclose a copy of the reply I received, where the Government responds to a number of general issues. However, I appreciate your letter raises detailed, specific concerns about how the Bill could affect Bristol Wireless, so I have written to the Home Secretary to ask for her comments.

I will let you know when I receive a response but please do not hesitate to contact me in the meantime should the need arise.

Yours, etc.

The letter Dawn enclosed with her reply to us is the usual tissue of spurious justifications for treating the UK’s population of 62 mn. individuals like criminals and of course uses the standard bogeyman of terrorism. It was drafted for signature by the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire, but was actually signed by Lord Henley, another junior Home Office minister. Moreover, this letter contains some blatant contradictions. On page 3 it states that the economic costs of collecting data “over ten years from 2011 could be up to £1.8 billion”. However, this conflicts with the preceding paragraph, whose first 2 sentences read:

It is difficult to estimate costs over the longer term: the programme has an incremental approach to developing capabilities, which responds to changes in technology and the communications market place. These changes are difficult to predict.

Reading between the lines in the above quotation it would appear that the Snooper’s Charter is just the start of collecting and retaining yet more data on and from citizens’ communications for an unspecified cost. This sounds like a monstrous attack on privacy and the civil liberties of UK citizens.

Read the Home Office letter in full (PDF).