We must ensure our country and its citizens are safe, but as Liberal Democrats we will also do so in a way that improves, not erodes our civil liberties, and rolls back, not increases unchecked intrusion into our lives.
We know the consequences of not acting are serious but absolutely adamant this urgency will not be used as an excuse for more powers, or for a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’.
We have blocked a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ before and will continue to do so.
No government takes the decision to introduce emergency legislation lightly. We are taking this decision to maintain the current abilities of police and security agencies not increase them.
Nick Clegg has been determined to use the urgency behind this legislation to make sure this Government becomes the first in many decades to increase transparency and oversight – and make significant progress in defence of liberty.
Nick Clegg and Norman Baker, with the help of Julian Huppert, have delivered cross-party support for a number of steps to strengthen oversight and transparency.
The Lib Dems have made sure:
• The Bill includes a termination clause that makes the legislation falls at the end of 2016 and the next government is forced to look again at these powers.
• We will hold a full review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act between now and 2016.
• We will appoint a senior diplomat to lead discussion with the American government and internet companies to establish a new international agreement for data-sharing between jurisdictions.
• We will establish a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to ensure civil liberties are properly considered in the formulation of counter-terrorism policy.
• Further reform of the Intelligence and Security Committee ensures the Chair must be drawn from the Opposition parties in the future.
• We will restrict the number of public bodies that are able to approach phone and internet companies and ask for communications data.
• Some bodies will lose their powers to access data altogether, while local authorities will be required to go through a single central authority.
• We will publish annual transparency reports, making more information publicly available than ever before on the way that surveillance powers operate.
This is the first government for generations to move the pendulum of civil liberties back.
Liberal Democrats in Government have abolished ID cards, reduced detention without trial, restored jury trials, curtailed stop and search powers, and reformed the libel laws to protect free speech.