Friday, March 14, 2014

Lib Dems conference motion on digital bill of rights

The text of the Liberal Democrats spring conference policy motion on a digital bill of rights is below (c&p from their Spring conference agenda p64-67).
"10.45 Policy motion
Chair: Sal Brinton (Vice Chair, Federal Conference Committee)
Aide: Sandra Gidley
F19 A Digital Bill of Rights
Mover: Tim Farron MP
Summation: Dr Julian Huppert MP (Co-Chair, Parliamentary Party Committee
on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities)

Conference believes:

i) Monitoring or surveilling people without suspicion is alien to our
traditional British values.
ii) That systematic surveillance of people’s communications and
online activities undermines a number of fundamental human rights,
including the right to respect of private life and correspondence,
freedom of expression, of association, of conscience and of religion;
that these rights are essential in safeguarding the democratic
principles of our society; and that any interference with these rights
must be necessary and proportionate.
iii) That our online communication and behaviour should be treated with
the same respect and legal due process that we expect for our offline
communication and behaviour.
iv) Government-supported filtering of the internet will prevent people
from accessing legitimate information and educational resources,
whilst giving parents a false sense of security.
v) That the indiscriminate harvesting and storage of the communications
and metadata of people without suspicion is incompatible with our
liberal and democratic principles, and has the potential to cast a
chilling effect on free speech and free association.
vi) Whilst there are legitimate concerns surrounding national security,
such concerns must not be invoked simply as a pretext to undertake
blanket surveillance, stifle investigative journalism, or discourage
public debate.
vii) That the work of the intelligence and security services is essential to
the underpinning of a free, fair and open society, and that clear public
agreement as to their remit and the extent of their powers would be to
their benefit as well the country more broadly.

Conference endorses:

A. The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to
Communications Surveillance, which emphasise that any surveillance
of citizens by the state must be necessary and proportionate.
B. The United Nations General Assembly resolution on the Right to
Privacy in the Digital Age (A/C.3/68/L.45), emphasising that the same
rights that citizens have offline must also be protected online.
C. The Reform Government Surveillance Principles signed by Apple,
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL,
which call for overhaul of the oversight, accountability and laws
governing government surveillance programmes in order to restore
the balance between security and liberty and to restore public trust in
the internet.
D. Existing Liberal Democrat policy that data belongs by default to the
individual to whom it refers; this ownership of data means that the
individual citizen has a right to access all their own data and, where
reasonable, can decide who else has access.
E. The Deputy Prime Minister’s decision to veto the unworkable and
disproportionate Communications Data Bill.

Conference therefore calls for:

1. The annual release of Government Transparency Reports which
publish, as a minimum, the annual number of user data requests
made by law enforcement, the intelligence agencies, and other
authorities, broken down by requesting authority, success rates, types
of data requested and category of crime or event being investigated.
2. The establishment of a commission of experts to review state
surveillance and all recent allegations from the Edward Snowden
leaks, with specific scope to:
a) Scrutinise relevant legislation including the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the Intelligence Services Act 1994
and section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984.
b) Assess the implications for privacy and internet freedoms of
Project Tempora and other programmes revealed by the Snowden
leaks, and consider alternatives to the bulk collection of data.
c) Review powers, scope, appointment and resources of oversight
committees, commissioners and tribunals.
d) Consider the use of judicial involvement and approval for
surveillance and for access to communications data and
metadata likely to reveal sensitive personal data.
e) Publish its findings and recommendations.
3. The Government to define and enshrine the digital rights of the citizen
to protect from overreach by the state, through:
a) Ensuring that powers of surveillance, accessing data, and
accessing new technologies are not extended without
Parliamentary approval.
b) Ensuring that government does not undertake the bulk
collection of data and only accesses the metadata or content
of communications of an individual if there is suspicion of
involvement in unlawful activity.
c) Ensuring that oversight of government surveillance is
independent, informed, transparent and adequate.
d) Supporting a prompt, lawful and transparent framework for data
requests across jurisdictions and between governments.
4. The Government to accelerate and expand the midata project,
to grant citizens access to all their data in an open digital format,
regardless of which business holds that data, by using powers under
the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

Applicability: Federal.

Mover of motion: 7 minutes; summation: 4 minutes; other speakers: 3 minutes.
For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 15.
In addition to speeches from the platform, conference representatives will be
able to make concise (maximum one-minute) interventions from the floor during
the debate on the motion; see page 14.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Tuesday 4th March;
those selected for debate will be printed in Saturday’s Conference Daily. The
deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00, Saturday 9th March. See
page 17."
Just one major note. Although it's fine to see the Lib Dems making an effort on this issue it is disappointing to see the dangerously false notion that there is a mythical "balance between security and liberty" trotted out unthinkingly yet again. This time it's done in endorsing (item C) the not-our-fault-guv-if-only-governments-would-stick-their-unwelcome-noses-out-of-our-er-the-surveillance-business-we'd-all-be-ok corporate behemoths that have facilitated the mass surveillance we are all now subjected to.

Mr Farron and Dr Huppert - thanks for making some effort but can you please stop - I cannot emphasize this strongly enough - stop painting security and liberty (or security and privacy) as opposites. They are fundamentally interdependent. Unless that understanding can be embedded in the DNA of the public debate about this stuff, we won't ever get off the starting blocks to address mass surveillance.

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