Investigatory Powers Bill

Written evidence submitted by John Bingham (IPB 04)

I am writing to air my dismay at the ill-thought out and frankly authoritarian Investigatory Powers Bill. Not only has it been pushed through Parliament in record time you are ignoring an open letter from numerous lawyers etc about the legality of the bill let alone the practicality and morality.

Have you really thought about the sheer volume of data such a blunt tool as mass surveillance will generate? There’ll be loads of false positives as the system will have to be automated to even stand a chance of working, the security services will then have to waste time sorting out all these useless false positives. In addition hasn’t any MP ever heard of VPNs and other forms of encryption? There’s loads of different forms including banking and work-related VPNs so yet more people will be wasting their time trying to sort this out and which you won’t be able to read anyway. You’ll need people on the ground actually doing something worthwhile (surveillance) to again sort it out. I cynically expect MPs to call for VPNs to be banned (good luck with that as criminals will just download from another source) or engineered to have backdoors which would destroy the financial sector which relies upon secure encryption.

In addition there’s been cases both here and in the USA where people with access to such systems abuse it for personal reasons and to snoop on people they know. IIRC there was a case last week involving Essex police breaking the law with regards data retention and councils have abused the RIP law.

All this time, effort and especially money would be better invested in more "boots on the ground" such as agents infiltrating known radical mosques etc (this is just a poor example as I expect most mosques to be decent places). Again it just seems like you want to take the easy option with most MPs being computer illiterate and just naively believing a computer will somehow magically stop terrorism - it won’t.

I find it the height of hypocrisy that MPs whined when they found out that they were being monitored and pushed for the Wilson Doctrine to be re-established. Surely if they’ve got nothing to hide and believe the system will work they should be happy to be monitored? In fact I demand that they be monitored as they’re public servants and I want them to be accountable to the electorate.

I almost didn’t email because frankly Britain is slowly turning into a police state and I don’t want to appear on some security service list as an agitator which in itself is laughable. I’m very hawkish when it comes to people wanting to harm this great country but this isn’t the best way of stopping them and indeed you’re doing their job for them by slowly dismantling a free and liberal UK.

This is a dark shameful low in British democracy and will put us on par with China.

Further to my previous email I would just like to point out that it’s now been revealed that the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks were using a series of "burner phones" to communicate and the monitoring proposed by the bill wouldn’t have been of any use in preventing the attack.

March 2016


Prepared 24th March 2016