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Privacy: David Davis live briefing

June 8th, 2012 by

David Davis MP

Our right to privacy is under threat. The government has confirmed it wants new powers to snoop on all of us whenever we use the internet. Soon they’ll start pushing the plans through Parliament.

We can stop these Big Brother plans – if enough MPs feel enough pressure to vote against them. So now’s the time to get clued up. We need to work out how to persuade every MP to vote to protect our privacy.

David Davis MP is a senior Conservative, a former shadow Home Secretary and a long-time supporter of civil liberties. He’s hugely opposed to the government’s plans. He’s agreed to hold an online question and answer session with 38 Degrees members. It’s a chance to hear more about the snooping plan and how we can stop it.

The live internet briefing will take place on Tuesday 12th June at 7pm. You can take part from in front of your computer, all you’ll need is an internet connection. Reserve your place and get instructions on how to join in.

If we’re trying to persuade MPs, where better to get insider knowledge than direct from an MP? And David Davis isn’t just any MP – he’s a prominent Conservative and a former minister. He’s been on the receiving end of many 38 Degrees campaigns before. He’ll be able to tell us what works and how to best respond to government spin.

David Cameron claims his new plans to invade our privacy will make us safer. But really this is about Big Brother powers to spy on all of us, not just serious criminals. It’s the difference between treating all of us as citizens, and treating us as suspects.

38 Degrees members know better than anyone that the internet can be a force for good. It would be a disaster if the government got more powers to spy on it. So let’s come together on the internet next week and prepare to stand up for our privacy online.

Reserve your place and get instructions on how to join.


Over 1,000 of us tuned in to watch the David Davis MP briefing on government snooping! You can watch  it there:

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  • Jendurham

    I know lots of you will not agree with me, but I quite like the idea of the govt. seeing what I write about it!

  • Mira-martin

    If it helps to stop terrorism & paedophiles and other serious crime then I’m all for it.  Any one ‘snooping’ would still have to justify their actions – data protection etc. They won’t have time to look at anyone & everyone and snoop for no reason but it will allow them to investigate leads of enquiry – so, although I support some of your other causes, I’m afraid I’m not with you on this one.

  • Soho

    NOT OVER ON NHS YET !  PEOPLE SHOULD CHIP MONEY IN TO DO A NURSE POLL NATIONALLY,and public poll,,,on the message sheets,it should say is new nhs in your interests,or not in your interests!  THIS WILL SCUPPER LANGSLEY’S PLAN’S…..

  • Anonymous

    Justice should not only be done, but should be seen to be done.I have long maintained that one of the major props that support our freedoms is the cub reporter sitting at the back of every Court, keeping an eye on the judge / magistrate. 

    I am totally against courts being held in secret. 

    Particularly Family Courts ! 

    And, No; I have no personal axe to grind.

  • anonymous

    CCTV in every room of every home would also help stop terrorism, child abuse, etc.  And you could still say, “They won’t have time to look at anyone & everyone and snoop for no
    reason but it will allow them to investigate leads of enquiry”.  You could have all sorts of ‘safeguards’, such as warrants being required before actual humans can look at any CCTV images, and so on.  The mere possibility of being watched, without knowing when or who by, could be a powerful deterrent.  But how many people would accept such a Big Brother society?

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people.”  – Adolf Hitler.

    Don’t be fooled by fascist rhetoric!

    “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were
    being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the
    Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was
    even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any
    rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to
    live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption
    that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every
    movement scrutinized.”  – Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell: http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/

  • Steve

    Is this just another sign of the democracy experiment finally ending and being replaced with the beginnings of a fascist state?

  • Moros

    I hope all the people who say “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about” have lots of children and grandchildren. Because that way, the future generations will have people to hold responsible and hopefully feel some disgust with/hatred for. I think the blinkers should be removed and then consider a future with an extreme right-wing political party in charge. Add this fantastic snooping plan to other items: – DNA taken from anyone arrested and then stored even if the person is not guilty, [which the EU condemned and ordered that the samples should be destroyed. Our Government showed them the middle finger and kept the whole lot],  CCTV monitoring all the towns, Stop & Search laws, keeping people locked up and not giving a reason for doing so…… The list goes on. What the blinkered brigade who have ”
    done nothing wrong” fail to think about is their future bloodline. If say, the BNP gets into power and they decided to use any DNA to check the ethnic background of individuals there may be a lot of people leaving the country or put into camps. But people like me always get written off as loony nut-jobs. So people, keep taking the pills and keep the flag flying. Divide and conquer has been the government policy for long enough. It works and anyone with a left of centre idea is usually ignored – or arrested, depending upon how many people listen to them. This government policy is only step 1. [If you ignore the above list]. The saying “You get what you deserve” is just about right for the people defending this 
    fascist /Communist plan for snooping on the people.
     I’m just glad I never donated to the gene pool if this is the future- as designed by a bunch of over privileged millionaires who have nothing in common with the average person on the street. RIP Democracy. You were good while you lasted.

  • Winlinuser

    Excellent debate – Thanks to David Davis for taking the time.  This whole topic of the invasion of privacy of ordinary British people is just the thin edge of what appears to be an orchestrated movement to deprive us of our hard earned freedoms.  The people behind this movement must not succeed!  Fight NOW!

  • Zarbha

    Looks like it is!

  • John Brown

    I just saw this presentation.Previously I was more concerned about1) Rioters calling each other together via Blackberry, and moving between sites in order to exhaust a limited police and fire brigade presence, as in the London riots last year.2) Home-grown Islamist terrorists using the Web to download terrorist manuals, and email to contact co-conspirators and “controllers” abroad.

    However, the thought that 700 government agencies could have access to every digital communication we all make, plus the localisation data that tells them whereabouts a cell-phone is geographically, is quite chilling.We know journalists bribe policemen to get information they want, and an exhaustive snooping system with remote Web access is just too dangerous to have around. I suggest two alternative solutions to my two worries above:1) Police having the power to get a warrant from a senior judge to shut down a selected set of mobile phone cells. This would last only perhaps 48 hours, and would require evidence that a riot was imminent. We might require that a warning 5 minutes before blackout should be broadcast, for children to phone home etc.2) A similar warrant requiring an ISP to provide lists of users who accessed one of a list of web-sites, this list and a summary of the types of sites being stated in the warrant. We need statistics publishing on all such warrents, as with “stop-and-search” operations. In that way, we can chek that data is not being gathered just to embarass and discredit political opponents or journalists.

  • Zarbha

    You are quite right, we are on the verge of becoming a Police State with technology controlling us!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Brian.McN Brian McNeil

    “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is
    easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and
    denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country
    to danger. It works the same way in any country.” – Hermann Göring.

    Our Government’s methods, and basis for their arguments.
    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin.

    The only reasonable response.

  • http://twitter.com/BrynGerard Bryn Gerard

    The problem with that is that the Police, Fire & Ambulance services all use the same mobile networks.  You would disable their capacity to communicate and orchestrate a response.  This happened during Arab spring and the Authorities realised they needed to turn it back on.

    The ISP website tracking can be done in a simpler way, by intercepting the data going in and out of the website. No need for ISP’s to monitor every packet of every person to see if it meets the criteria. The capacity to do this already exists and is no doubt used.

    People determined to engage in illegal activities with regard to transmitting data have various options that do not require the public Internet. It is also possible for them to use unknown encryption systems that the authorities would have considerable difficulty in cracking and may not be successful.  These ad hoc  networks are simple to create and difficult to detect.

  • http://twitter.com/BrynGerard Bryn Gerard

    There are many issues surrounding this legislation that threaten our liberties and open ALL of us up to exploitation.

    The technical arguments don’t measure up.  The authorities will gain little to help them catch real criminals and as politicians & police have “proven” themselves to be thoroughly untrustworthy, how can we trust them not to abuse the data?

    I believe that politicians will be flannelled about the technology and because they do not understand it, they will do what they are told and vote for it.

    I think the best strategy is “the waste of money”.  What exists is already enough for them to monitor, detect and intercept targeted suspects. Why spend money on something we do not need?

    The potential for illegal interception by organisations like “News International” is clear and in addition to this, business could gain massive advantage by knowing so much about you, they would pay well for such data.  This already happens with existing databases, in particular the NHS.

  • http://twitter.com/BrynGerard Bryn Gerard

    To help people who would like to assemble a letter to send to their MP., here is list of questions that I believe need to answered and should help the MP. focus on the real issues in hand.

    Does it give the authorities an improvement in the capacity to fight crime and terrorism?Is it possible for criminals and terrorists to bypass security with ease or even moderate knowledge?Would illegal data transmissions be driven underground and therefore more difficult to detect?Will deployment of the system trigger greater creativity in criminals and terrorist in evading detection?Will the technology be deployed on private data networks operated by the City? It would make tracking money laundering, insider trading and other criminal activity in the world of Banking more effective. Would it be used to monitor business-business communications to detect crimes like “Price fixing” etc.?Is it affordable/value for money?What is Government’s track record on deploying major IT systems?What is Government’s track record on securing data?What would the cost to the Economy be if a failure in the system prevented business to business communications and other commercial activities on the public Internet? per day, per hour, per minute.Will it inhibit advances in Internet transmission speeds?Would this system potentially be designed, deployed and administered by foreign owned corporations?What do we loose as a society/an individual?What are the potential negative impacts upon society?Would such a “honey pot” make it easier for criminals to commit fraud?Could the data be used to enact discrimantion against individuals/groups?

  • John Brown

            Thanks for this information. I am not an expert in telecom, but the following thought occurred to me.        When my cell-phone account has run down (it is pay-as-you-go), I am refused access to the network. I can go to an ATM and top it up, without inserting any new SIM or card or anything into the phone.        It follows that every time a cell-phone is turned on, the account linked to that phone is consulted on the database at the call routing centre. All it is necessary to do, is to tag database entries for phones belonging to police, ambulance and fire. In fact, I would be surprised if this is not already done.        Then in place of “disabling a cell”, all the network company has to do is to add a few lines of code to check if the phone is leased by the emergency forces. If so, the call is allowed, and if not it is stopped.
             Clearly this is a very small modification to make to existing software. If an emergency service phone is stolen, its call pattern on the billing information should easily alert the emergency services, who instruct the network people to disable that phone.

  • http://twitter.com/BrynGerard Bryn Gerard

    Indeed, this facility is there. The Emergency services have a higher priority than the general public.  The priority they have gives them access to Network Resources ahead of everyone else. You will get “bumped” in a hot spot if higher priority account connects and resources are maxed out.

    The problem with a “few lines of code” is that the logic is hard-coded in silicone and, esp. with older equipment, very difficult to modify.

    I imagine newer kit may have greater flexibility.

  • John Brown

             Frankly I find it very hard to believe that “the logic is hard-coded in silicone (sic) or even silicon”. Data bases just don’t work that way. The phone contains lots of logic which is hard-coded, and there will be front-end decoding at the switching centre where it needs to be high speed. However, the fact remains that whenever I make a call, my account status is checked against the database, to see if I have run out of money. It is incidentally, checked mid-call, and the call is interrrupted with a recorded message if I run out of money.         Databases are always on disk, and flexible software accesses them. The company wants the flexibility of changing its warning messages, as it changes account top-up methods, so all this account referencing must be done in software.         So it is a minor extension to check if the account is issued to the emergency services, and if not to disallow the call in the event that the police have a warrant to close down the cell from which the call came.
             I guess the reason that this was not done in the Arab Spring, was that the country had bought turn-key systems from Nokia and the like, without the source-code being supplied. They would have no programmers on site, and Nokia is hardly likely to supply them in the middle of a revolution. We in the UK are in the more luxurious state of having time to prepare before the next set of riots.
             There are very real security concerns in this country, and the “spooks” will get into a lot of trouble if major damage arises due to their inability to control a situation. They have very real reasons for needing extensions to current systems, but none for the sort of “wholesale snooping” that the Programme suggests.
             If a compaign is to maintain its credibility, it must deal with the real facts in as much as they can be ascertained, and not simply present questionable facts because they fit a strategy that the compaigners hope will work.

  • John Brown

            Incidentally. I did a quick Google search on the use of Blackberries in the London riots. One article said that they were the phone of choice because there was a flexible broadcasting system in their network, which a riot organiser could use to call in his troops.        Whilst sales managers also probably find such a system useful, people phoning the emergency services or their parents to report a riot, would not. So a feature useful to the police would be to get a warrant to block all broadcasts, possibly even from all cells, but certainly from specified cells, for the duration of a riot. 

  • Geraldine Oconnor

    you want to expand your knowledge on the SNOOPERS CHARTER, here is a list of
    some important documents that you might like to read. 38 Degrees has been
    taking advice from Liberty about the SNOOPERS CHARTER. They are a mine of
    information on human rights and civil liberties issues.


    I totally
    recommend that you read: ‘Article 8:The
    right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’  (Human Rights Review 2012) at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/humanrights/hrr_article_8.pdf

    also might like to browse the report which was ordered by the
    House of Lords in 2009: Surveillance: Citizens and the State at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldselect/ldconst/18/1802.htm

    When they were in opposition, the Conservative
    published a damning criticism of Labour’s introduction of the Snoopers’
    Charter. In this 2009 document: REVERSING THE RISE OF THE SURVEILLANCE STATE
    (written by Dominic Grieve QC MP).

    Home Secretary Theresa May is driving force behind the
    current SNOOPERS CHARTER. Her CATGATE speech left everyone (including
    Ken Clarke) with the impression that she hasn’t got an in-depth knowledge of
    the Human Rights Act. She said: “We all know the stories about the Human Rights
    Act…The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not
    making this up – he had a pet cat. This is why I remain of the view that the
    Human Rights Act needs to go.” You can read her full speech at: http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2011/10/04/theresa-may-speech-in-full

    For those of you who think that the SNOOPERS
    CHARTER has been dreamed up by the Conservatives or the Coalition, let me
    remind you that Jack Straw introduced the Regulation
    of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). “The
    nickname “snooper’s charter” has clung to the act amid
    widespread public anxiety about the misuse of these powers. Concern was
    heightened in June 2008, when 121 councils revealed they had used the
    legislation during a 12-month period to monitor behaviour by examining the
    private communications of residents.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/jan/14/regulation-investigatory-powers-act

    In 2002 Conservatives joined forces with the
    Lib Dems to oppose the then Home Secretary David Blunkett’s attempt to
    introduce it. Read the following articles written in 2002: ‘Ministers
    forced into snooper’s charter climbdown’ at: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240046138/Ministers-forced-into-snoopers-charter-climbdown

    ‘Q&A: A snooper’s charter?’ at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2037951.stm

    ‘Plans for ‘snoopers’ charter’ delayed’
    at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2002/jun/17/onlinesecurity.whitehall

    surprises critics with admission of privacy blunder’ at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/jun/19/humanrights.security?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

  • Geraldine Oconnor

    I was
    emailed a document which 38 Degrees called The Draft Communications Bill:


    This is not the Draft Communications Bill.
    It is a one page summary of the Draft Communications Bill. The actual Draft
    Communications Bill can be found at:


  • Geraldine Oconnor


    Privacy and data protection in the EU (Overview of the legal and institutional



    European Commission locks horns with
    Germany over data retention law

    activists say that the commission has not shown that the blanket retention of
    data is necessary. A Germany study concluded that data retention had only
    helped on 0.002% of criminal cases. However, a spokesman for the commission
    said that Germany could be taken to the European Court of Justice if it fails
    to act.”



    Data retention: Commission takes Germany to
    Court requesting that fines be imposed

    “Brussels, 31 May 2012 – More than two years after the national law transposing the EU Data
    Retention Directive was annulled by the German Federal Constitutional Court,
    Germany has still not complied with the Directive. As a result, today the
    Commission referred the country to the European Court of Justice, requesting it
    to impose financial penalties.”




    “On the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the
    provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public
    communications networks and amending. Directive 2002/58/EC”



    Commission evaluates the Directive on retention
    of telecommunications data (Brussels,
    18 April 2011)



  • Khudson

    The government plan to record all internet activity and communication for every citizen.  Their stated justification for doing this is to track terrorists.  However, importantly, terrorists only used the internet because they thought they were NOT being monitored.  Now they know for sure that they will be, they will stop using it.  This makes the whole project counter productive and a waste of money.

  • Geraldine Oconnor

    I hope that plenty of Nick Clegg’s constituents are going to join me to give him our petition. So far only one person has replied. I’m hoping that Lord Coe’s arrival at Hunters Bar with the Olympic Torch at approximately the same time as our appointed meeting with Mr Clegg won’t distract people from joining me. This is an important issue that I’m struggling to get Press attention. All local journalists & their photographers are fully focused on the Olympic Torch. Nevertheless, I’ve written a press release and have found a professional photographer. PLEASE BE THERE!

  • John Slade

    Moderate Questions put for a serious debate on a important matter of infringement of peoples right to privacy and their right of freedom of expression  

  • Geraldine Oconnor

    I organised a petition hand-in to Nick Clegg, but myself and others only received the invitation to the event 3 hours before the event occurred. It was a miracle that anyone turned up at all. Also, I find it perplexing that the press release on this human rights issue contained reference to our campaign to save the forests. Trees don’t have human rights. Journalists like to keep their stories focused on one issue at a time, so let’s keep our press releases focused.