An Open Letter to OUR Members of Parliament: Don’t Pass Emergency Data Retention Laws

This is a copy of the email I sent to my local MP and I am now making it a public, open letter to all MPs in England. I emphasise OUR in the title, because the government is there for US not for themselves and they need to remember that.

Dear [Members of Parliament],

On 8th April 2014 the European Union’s highest court invalidated the data retention directive (directive 2006/24) due to the fact it was so broad in scope as to, “generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.” However our government feels that they are within their right to push through a data retention bill (announced publicly last week) as an emergency law despite the fact it shares the same problems as the EU directive. In fact, the bill is flawed in the very same way the directive is; it allows for mass data to be collected which can be accessed without the subscriber or registered user being informed. This is what creates a feeling of constant surveillance; thus making it a breach of our, supposedly inalienable, right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“…by requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.” – EU Court of Justice Press Release No. 54/14

Our country’s leaders in London have used classic fear tactics, saying that we need this bill to protect our society from paedophiles and terrorists; but the size of the net they are casting is ridiculously large, and it will cover the entirety of the UK and all of her innocent citizens. This is completely unreasonable and unacceptable.

If it is going to be mandatory for service providers to store our communications then the net being cast must be strictly limited to a certain geographic area and length of time. Innocent people do not deserve to live their lives under the notion that they are constantly bringing surveilled.

At the absolute least there should be some kind of debate on the topic. After a year of ignoring the issue, it is impossible for me to believe that we cannot spare a week at the very least to debate the topic and scrutinise the bill to ensure it is legal and just.

I implore you to look deeply into this matter and stand against this emergency bill due to be raised on Tuesday. It is not an emergency and bills as invasive as this need to be deeply scrutinised. Let us not forget the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

Kind regards,
Jake Cowton

Artwork, allegedly by Banksy, found near GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham

Artwork, allegedly by Banksy, found near GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham

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