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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill: Emergency law

July 15th, 2014 by

Today, MPs will vote through a new law forcing internet and phone companies to keep records of all your calls, emails and texts. The government says it’s to counter terrorism – but privacy campaigners say it’s a huge power grab under false pretences.

Either way, it’s made a mockery of the democratic process. Usually, a new law takes months. But today, MPs will vote this law through just two working days after it was first announced. Many MPs probably won’t have had the time to read it.

The Tory, Lib Dem and Labour leaders are all backing it – it’d take a miracle to stop MPs passing it. But we could make sure that it gets properly reviewed and debated within six months. MPs will vote on an amendment which has cross party support from MPs including Tom Watson, David Davis and Caroline Lucas which would make sure it’s reviewed in December 2014. [2] But we’ll only get a review if enough MPs vote for one.

Can you take a few minutes to email your MP now? There are hints and tips on the page. You could ask them to vote for a December review, or tell them what you think about the fact that the law has been rushed through in two days. The more constituents they hear from, the more likely MPs are to want to show they’re listening – and compromise by voting for a December review. Just click here to send an email:

The full name of the law is the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband held secret meetings last week to write it. And now the government intends to pass it through the House of Commons today and the House of Lords tomorrow. It’ll be law before the end of the week.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s pretty jaw-dropping. The government says it’s just replacing EU law which was thrown out by European courts in April, but privacy campaigners say this law has “new and unprecedented powers” to keep tabs on all of us.

We have a democratic process for a reason, and 38 Degrees members have come together over and over again to defend it. We stood together against the gagging law, we beat back the Snoopers’ Charter, and every month we make sure that MPs are hearing from thousands of us about the things that are important.

This new law is being forced through tomorrow. Your MP’s probably had little time to read it – and yet they’re supposed to speak for you in Parliament. Click here to tell your MP what you’d like them to do tomorrow:

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts


Your tax record: for sale?

April 24th, 2014 by

Have you heard about the latest data sell-off? Right now, the taxman, HMRC, is considering a plan to sell our personal tax details to private companies. Our incomes, the amount of tax we pay, and our tax histories could be sold to the highest bidder.

Tory MP David Davis has branded the plan “borderline insane”. But right now, HMRC is thinking about whether to go ahead anyway. If enough of us come together to create a huge petition, it will show HMRC, and the government that we won’t stand for them selling off our tax details.

Only a few months ago NHS England floated plans to sell off our health records. The outcry was huge, with organisations like the Royal College of GPs responding furiously to the idea that individuals might be identifiable from the data. In less than 24 hours, 150,000 members of 38 Degrees pledged to opt out of the scheme. Together, we forced a change of plan. NHS England panicked and paused the sell-off for 6 months.

If we act fast, we can do the same with HMRC. There is already opposition. MPs have criticised the plans. Tax experts have expressed concern, and organisations like Big Brother Watch are worried about “serious risks to privacy.”

38 Degrees members are coming together to create a huge petition, to show HMRC that we want our details kept private. If you want to add your name to the petition, click here.


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Government Surveillance Debate

October 29th, 2013 by

It’s five months since The Guardian first reported on just how invasive the British intelligence agencies’ internet and phone surveillance is. Politicians across Europe and America have been debating this ever since. But in the UK, our MPs have been mostly silent.

This Thursday, MPs have the chance to hold a substantial debate about the intelligence and security service, for the first time since Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing hit the headlines. But for the debate to be really hard-hitting, and genuinely useful, lots of MPs need to turn up.

If you email and ask them to attend they’re much more likely to be there. Can you take two minutes to email your MP and ask them to attend the debate? Please click here.

Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, Conservative MP Dominic Raab, and Labour’s Tom Watson MP have secured the debate to raise concerns about the need to make sure surveillance in this country is necessary, proportionate and accountable.

But there’s a real risk that not many MPs will turn up. If enough of us get in touch with our MPs now and ask them to attend the debate, together we can prove that British citizens care about their civil liberties and privacy.

“If MPs know that enough of their constituents care about a debate like this, they’re usually much more likely to attend.”

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge

When it was exposed that UK spy agencies have been intercepting our private phone calls and internet traffic – and sharing it with the USA’s security services – many people, including MPs and ministers, had no idea that UK surveillance was so wide reaching. But so far MPs haven’t had a chance to debate it.

Let’s make sure the debate is packed full of MPs to ensure that it has a big impact. Please email your MP here and ask them to join in the debate now.

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We won!

April 26th, 2013 by

Great news! We’ve stopped the government’s plan to spy on everyone’s internet use. Late yesterday Nick Clegg announced he will not allow the “snoopers’ charter” to go ahead.

38 Degrees members moved quickly when we first heard of the plan to collect details of who we call, text, email and which websites we visit. We voted to work together to stop these intrusive and expensive plans.

Together, over the past 18 months:

- nearly 200,000 of us signed the petition to stop government snooping

- tens of thousands of us emailed our MPs

- from Dundee to Penzance, thousands of us met up locally to deliver our massive petition direct to MPs

- nearly 19,000 38 Degrees members raised their concerns directly to the parliamentary committee looking at the government’s plans

- and just last week thousands of us got back in touch with our MPs, calling on them to abandon the plans.

38 Degrees members were a key part of a team which also included great campaigning from Liberty, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group.  We also got support and advice from a number of supportive MPs – particularly Lib Dem Julian Huppert, and Conservative David Davis. David Davis MP even came into the 38 Degrees office to do a live web briefing with 38 Degrees members!

When we started this campaign, we knew it would be hard. The government seemed determined – we’d need a big campaign to turn it around. So collectively we rolled our sleeves up and just kept going. Today we can celebrate a great win for people power!

Campaigns like this don’t cost the earth to run, but they aren’t free. 38 Degrees is 100% independent – so we’ll never take money from big business or government. Instead 38 Degrees relies entirely on donations from members like you, giving one-off donations or small regular sums of £2 or £3 per week.

With your help now, we can take things to a new level. Can you chip in £2 or £3 a week, to help us raise the vital resources needed to dramatically increase our impact over the year ahead (or whatever you can afford).

Click here to give a small amount to 38 Degrees each week via our secure website.

Please do consider chipping in if you can – it really is the only way wins like this are possible. But first of all, please make sure you take a moment to celebrate what we can accomplish when we all act together.

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Snooping: campaign update

November 21st, 2012 by

Here are some great photos 38 Degrees members have sent in over the last few months of their meetings with local MPs. Take a look!

38 Degrees members organised the meetings to give their local MP a copy of the petition against government snooping and explain to them why why we want them to oppose the government’s plans to invade our privacy.


From Dundee to Penzance, more than 70 hand-ins took place all over the country!  Here’s a map showing everywhere a government snooping petition hand-in took place…


Loads of 38 Degrees members found MPs ready to listen:

  • “We were treated politely and patiently on the day and sent a detailed 2 page letter a week or two later” Peter Struik, Sutton on Paul Burstow MP (Lib Dem)
  • “She was welcoming, engaged and seemed genuinely interested in our campaign. She invited us to keep sending her information that she was able to present to her colleagues at the parliament.” Afreen Huq, Bethnal Green on Rushnara Ali MP (Labour)
  • “We got listened to seriously…We had a 30 min discussion with John Randall MP, and a photo shoot on the balcony at Parliament. We all appreciated his advice regarding how to strengthen our campaign by asking technical experts to share their knowledge of the Bill’s deficiencies as they saw them.” Chris Clark Gold, Uxbridge on John Randall MP (Conservative)

This week, all this fantastic campaigning by 38 Degrees members was recognised by Liberty, with a ‘Human Rights Campaigner of the Year Award’ for 2012, jointly awarded to 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group.

But there’s still a long way to go…

Right now, an official committee of MPs is preparing a report that might put a stop to the government’s plans. If the report says the government’s plans are flawed, it could make it hard for the government to push ahead. It could be a major chance to push the government to bin the idea altogether!

Do you have any ideas about what we could do together next in the campaign to protect our privacy online?  It’d be great if you could add any comments or suggestions below.

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Snooping: our voices have been heard!

September 12th, 2012 by

The 38 Degrees office received this brilliant email today!  It’s from the Clerk of the Committee examining the government’s plans for a new snooping law.

A few weeks ago, nearly 19,000 38 Degrees members got in touch with the Committee to voice our concerns about the planned changes to UK privacy laws. And it’s clear they’ve listened.

The email states:

“It is not possible for the Committee staff to thank all those who have sent emails individually, but the Committee have been made well aware of the great preponderance of opposition to the draft Bill from members of the public.”

Together, we’ve made a big impression on the MPs and Lords who are on the Committee, as they come to a decision about what to put in their critical report to Parliament. The Committee has also written about our submissions on the Parliament website.

This is a big achievement, and a great step forward in our fight to protect our privacy.  Now we have to wait and see what the Committee says about the government’s plans in the official report.

There could be a long way to go in this campaign. What do you think?  Should we keep up the pressure?  What could we do next together to make sure MPs know we don’t want these snooping plans to become law?


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Snooping: guest blog from Liberty’s Rachel Robinson

August 23rd, 2012 by

Rachel Robinson is Policy Officer for one of the UK’s leading civil liberties organisations Liberty. In this guest blog, she explains some of the major problems with the government’s plans for more snooping online – the Draft Comunications Data Bill. 

Imagine how you’d feel if the police popped round your house tomorrow and installed a CCTV camera in your bedroom – just in case they might one day suspect you of committing a crime. Chances are you’d probably have something to say about it. This might sound pretty far-fetched, but in an internet age the government’s plans to record huge amounts of information about our online habits are not so far removed. For those of us who use the internet as an important way of communicating with friends, relatives or business associates, the government’s Draft Communications Data Bill will act like a window to our souls.

The Coalition has dusted off and revived its predecessor’s plans for a Snoopers’ Charter that’ll result in the mass collection and storage of the entire population’s “communications data”. That’s records of everyone’s e-mails, texts and phonecalls – even the websites we visit – all gathered and retained by private firms. Rather than addressing already problematic powers which allow mass surveillance, ministers are now going even further.

Thankfully the government has at least established a Joint Committee, made up of MPs and peers, to scrutinise the Draft Bill. The Committee has asked for written evidence, the deadline for which is today. Liberty and our members are fighting hard against the plans via our No Snoopers’ Charter campaign and we’ve sent over our submission stating exactly why we oppose the proposals.

In the drive to defend the Snoopers’ Charter against rising public opposition, a number of myths have emerged. For example there’s the classic “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”. Why is it always about what we’ve got to hide? What about what we have to protect – personal privacy, perhaps? We’re also assured this isn’t about the actual “content” of communications. But you can still learn an awful lot about someone from their online habits – who they text and telephone, not to mention the websites they visit.

The government claims that nothing will really change, as some data is already stored. But these proposals are much graver. For the first time companies will be instructed to collect information on billions of communications – for no other reason than the authorities’ future demands for access. We’re also promised this is just about tackling criminals and thwarting terrorists. But the plans will allow data to be collected about everyone; not just suspects. With methods that evade the state’s reach readily available, it’s likely that serious criminals will avoid detection.

If the Draft Bill gets the green light, blunders and even abuse will surely follow – haven’t the privacy debacles of recent years taught us anything? It’s a truly chilling prospect, and flimsy crime prevention arguments can’t be allowed to usurp the privacy of innocent, law-abiding Britons. We’re a nation of citizens, not suspects – and that’s precisely how it should stay.

UPDATE: You can read Liberty’s submission to the consultation here.

What do you think of Rachel’s blog and the threat to our right to privacy? Please share your comments and thoughts below.

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Snooping: 48 hours to email committee

August 21st, 2012 by

We’ve got just 48 hours to send thousands of messages to the committee of MPs with the power to derail the government’s snooping plan.

This is our big chance to influence the Committee’s report. The report could support the plans – or could say there are major problems, making it hard for the government to push ahead. The Committee is a Joint Committee set up to scrutinise the draft Communications Data Bill, chaired by Lord Blencathra. They’ve been interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 23 August.

Right now, there’s a risk that the report will focus mainly on the technical details.  Four out of five of the overall questions asked by the Committee in their call for evidence are on technical aspects of the proposals. But to derail the government’s plans, we need the report to do more than this. It needs to focus instead on the major threats to our freedoms and right to privacy.

The Committee will want to do a thorough job examining the plans. If tens of thousands of us send them emails about why we value our right to privacy, we can make sure the report asks the big questions – and that could be enough to kill the snooping plan.

Can you send a quick email to the Committee?

So far, 38 Degrees members have done an amazing job of standing up against the government’s snooping plans. Nearly 200,000 of us have signed the petition, and 70 MPs all round the country have had a copy of it hand-delivered by local 38 Degrees members.

Here’s what some 38 Degrees members have said so far about the campaign -

“Citizens should not be treated as criminals. We still live in a state where you are innocent until proven guilty. This type of surveillance casts a shadow over our freedom and makes us all look guilty before even being accused of a crime.”  - Giuseppe

“Even such a suggestion of giving such powers over to any government suggests how deeply we have strayed from democracy and basic freedoms.” – Barbara

There are just 48 hours left to get our voices heard. Can you send a message to tell the Committee why privacy matters to you?

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Government snooping: top tips from David Davis MP

June 19th, 2012 by

Watch the 3 min video of David Davis MP’s top tips for winning the campaign against government snooping:

Last week, over 1000 of us tuned in to watch David Davis MP gave a special live briefing to 38 Degrees members. It was about the new plans for government snooping that would allow the government, police and security forces to access information about who we’ve emailed, websites we’ve visited and much more.

The government would be able to dictate to phone and internet companies what kind of technology they must use to collect this data, and taxpayers would need to cover the costs. You can watch the full recording of the David Davis MP briefing here.

So far, over 150,000 of us have signed a petition asking for these plans to be dropped and 38 Degrees members are now organising to hand in the petition to MPs up and down the country.

Can you organise a petition hand-in in your area? It’s really easy. Click here to get started.

During the live briefing, David Davis MP told us that the single most effective thing we can to protect our privacy is arrange to meet with our MPs to talk to them about our concerns. He said, “Do not underestimate the extent to which your MP will pay attention… go and talk to your MP, and be persistent.”

Here’s David Davis MP’s top tips for 38 Degrees members talking to their MPs about the new plans for government snooping:

  • Talk to the MP in your own words, calmly and rationally.  But be persistent – MPs like a good debate!
  • Tell your MP that this is a massive invasion of our privacy – the government would be able to access huge amounts of information about who we’ve contacted and when, without getting a proper warrant.
  • The government claims these plans are about stopping terrorists and paedophiles – but people who use the internet for criminal purposes will easily find ways round the law, for example by using pay-as-you-go phones, internet cafes and anonymous internet servers. Ordinary, law-abiding people will be those most affected by this invasion of our privacy.
  • The new plans would generate so much information to trawl through, that it would make it harder for security services to find terrorists, not easier.
  • In Germany and the Czech Republic similar legislation was found to break article 8 of the Human Rights Act and quickly overturned.

So far, petition hand ins are happening in 47 constituencies. Can you organise one in your area?

Once you’ve made an appointment, and entered the details into our database, the 38 Degrees office team will email other 38 Degrees members in your area to let them know it’s happening, as well as sending you out a copy of the petition and information to help you with your meeting.

You can find out more about organising a visit to your MP here and read about what happened when other members met their MPs to hand in the petition here.

Can you help to stop this invasion of our privacy by talking to your MP and delivering our petition to them? Click here to get started.


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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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