Harlow MP Robert Halfon backs new surveillance laws

Politics / Wed 4th Nov 2015 at 08:41pm

NEW surveillance powers will be given to the police and security services, allowing them to access records tracking every UK citizen’s use of the internet without any judicial check, under the provisions of the draft investigatory powers bill unveiled by Theresa May.

It includes new powers requiring internet and phone companies to keep “internet connection records” – tracking every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months but will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data. Local authorities will be banned from accessing internet records.

Harlow MP Robert Halfon has responded to the proposed legislation.

He said:’Our world is changing. Great Britain faces significant threats to our national security and our way of life. Terrorism from extreme Islamists is on the rise, cyber crime is ever increasing and paedophiles and others are using the dark side of the internet like never before.

That is why I believe that the Government are absolutely right to introduce measures to do everything possible to combat these activities. A few years ago I would have taken a more libertarian stance. However, I now believe that the threats against us are so great that we have to do everything possible to defeat terrorism and criminal activity at its’ source. Of course individual civil liberties have to be safeguarded. But I believe that the new measures announced today by Theresa May strike a right balance between safeguarding our security and safeguarding our freedoms.

In her statement to the House of Commons May declared: “It cannot be right that today the police could find an abducted child if the suspects were using mobile phones to co-ordinate their crime, but if they were using social media or communications apps then they would be out of reach. Such an approach defies all logic and ignores the realities of today’s digital age.”

What these measures propose:

– There will be strict controls on law enforcement’s ability to access internet connection records. Internet Connection Records are the internet equivalent of a telephone bill – it is not a record of every webpage accessed. Local authorities will not be able to access them at all.

– It will create an offence to prevent abuse by public authorities of communication data powers.

– The whole system will be overseen by a powerful new Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

– Warrants will be approved by the Secretary of State and then a Judge. This provides democratic accountability through an elected person and then public assurance through judicial oversight.

What the Investigatory Powers Bill does NOT include:

– It does NOT allow the police and authorities to monitor what we are reading on the internet.
– It does NOT require communication service providers from the UK to store third party data from companies based overseas.
– It does NOT ban encryption.

Remember the terrorist and criminal only have to be lucky once – we have to be lucky always.’

The full statement from Theresa May can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/home-secretary-publication-of-draft-investigatory-powers-bill

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