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Privacy International slams snooping bill whitewash

Says MPs are being misled
Tue Apr 03 2012, 09:48

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP Privacy International (PI) has accused the Liberal Democrat party of pushing the Government's intrusive snooping bill as a must to wavering politicians.

An internal Lib Dem document leaked to the internet yesterday, and was clearly weighted in favour of explaining the Tories' Orwellian proposals and their implications in a happy, easy-to-understand and "this doesn't seem to too bad" way.

Privacy International says that there is no doubt that it is designed to encourage MPs that might not agree with the snooping bill to support it.

"The document contains significant evasions and distortions about the proposed 'Communications Capabilities Development Programme' (CCDP), and is clearly intended to persuade unconvinced Lib Dem MPs to vote in favour of the proposal," it warns.

Helping wavering MPs is a handy sample question and answer section that will let them deal with bothersome questions like, "Didn't you oppose this very policy in opposition?" The suggested answer here is, "No - what we opposed was Labour's draconian plan to introduce a centralised database of all communications data that the Government would be able to access at will." Even this dances with the truth, says PI, as the Labour plans were similar.

There are other problematic areas in the briefing, including fudged facts and errors, according to Privacy International's executive director Gus Hosein, and he said that they will contribute to murky debates and threaten civil liberties.

"Debates around communications interception are always plagued by the complexity of the issues at stake. However, given that the Communications Capabilities Development Programme represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties this country has faced in the past five years, I would have hoped that MPs were at least being given clear and coherent information about it," said Hosein.

"How are they supposed to make an informed decision when the issue comes before Parliament if they are presented with briefing documents riddled with factual inaccuracies?" µ


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