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UK’s revised draft Investigatory Powers Bill: “A slap in the face for Britain’s democracy”

Web Foundation · March 1, 2016

Two weeks after the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was criticised by three separate parliamentary committees, an updated version has been unveiled today. Despite calls from parliamentarians, business and civil society leaders for a fundamental redraft, the Bill has been revised in just a fortnight, and has also added new powers for police to access browsing history without a warrant and hack into phones. On first reading, it looks as if changes to the Committee’s criticisms have been largely cosmetic. Meanwhile, it is rumoured that the government will attempt to push the Bill through Parliament in just a few short weeks, during a time when many MPs are occupied with the EU referendum.

Anne Jellema, Chief Executive Officer of the Web Foundation comments:

“ Attempting to push a Bill of this magnitude, with this many flaws, through Parliament in a matter of weeks, is a slap in the face for Britain’s democracy and her people. The Bill and its supporting documents run to well over 500 pages. If, as reported, the Bill will get its second reading within a fortnight or sooner, MPs will have to crunch through more than 50 complex and technical pages per working day just to get a basic handle on the Bill and hold an informed debate. This is not only unrealistic, but dangerous.

“The world is watching, and this legislation is too important to get wrong. It is time for the government to admit it has made a mistake, and to commit to a new timeline that allows for proper scrutiny and public debate. Rushing this vital legislation risks leaving us all less safe, imposing huge costs on UK businesses while riding roughshod over basic British values and civil liberties.”

More background is available in a joint letter to the Daily Telegraph we signed today, alongside 100+ organisations and individuals.

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