Bulk interception warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 7th June 2016.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 1:13 pm, 7th June 2016

I will not give way at the moment—I have given way too many times and others want to speak.

To use an illustrative analogy, if we were to authorise the opening, scanning and retention of all mail via a particular post office in the hope that one day we could go back once we had found, via another investigative technique, a suspicion about a certain user of that post office, our constituents would rightly be marching on this place demanding that we stop such an outrage. Do the Government really believe that people using that post office would be content to believe that all was well as long as the letters were stored in a big safe to which only the good guys had the key, or that they would be read only after a warrant was required? I do not believe so—people are not that daft and, strangely, for some unknown reason, they are not that trusting—yet the Government are asking us to focus on the issue of access and examination, and to ignore the massive combine harvester in the room, meaning bulk data collection. Government Members may well groan, but we are entitled to express our opinions on the Bill and to scrutinise the legislation rigorously.

On the Government’s own terms, that abuse of public privacy is of very limited use anyway. Targeted powers are far more effective and could resolve many of the privacy concerns. If we have a justifiable case to access information, we already know who we should be targeting for data collection. Why are we wasting time and resources using bulk techniques for that collection?