THE INVESTIGATORY POWERS BILL (IP Bill) has been passed in Parliament, despite the widespread criticism it has faced.
The IP Bill passed by 266 votes in the House of Commons after Labour and the SNP abstained rather than voting against the so-called Snoopers' Charter.
During Tuesday's second reading, many MPs told the House of Commons that they agree IP Bill in principle, but said that substantial reform will be required if they are to support its progress into law.
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham acknowledged the "difficult work that the security services do", and added: "It's lazy to label the bill a Snoopers' Charter". However, he concluded that the bill is "not worthy of being passed into statute" in its current form.
He said that he would not be fulfilling his duties to the public by "giving the government a blank cheque with this bill," adding that respect for individual privacy, and more extensive controls over privacy intrusions needed to be baked into it.
"This bill is not good enough," stated Burnham, explaining the reasons for his party's abstention over the vote to pass the bill.
The SNP's Joanna Cherry, whose party also abstained, said that aspects of the bill "permit suspicionless surveillance, which is a threat to civil liberty."
Cherry, also explained that the US is "rolling back from bulk data collection, finding it unconstitutional, and of questionable value in the fight against terrorism," a point later echoed by Conservative back-bencher David Davis.
"The SNP will not be morally blackmailed into blind support for a bill of dubious legality," Cherry concluded - a speech subsequently derided by Conservative MP Ken Clarke as "the most combative I've ever heard in support of an abstention."
Nick Clegg, whose party the Liberal Democrats came out in direct opposition to the bill, later said: "The powers in this bill are formidable and capable of misuse." He added that the bill's wording needs to be more explicit, due to the exceptional nature of the powers.
Conservative MP David Davis, who in July 2015 won a High Court ruling stating that sections 1 and 2 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA) were unlawful, told the INQUIRER recently that the legislation should be given more time for its second reading.
"We are supposed to debate [the bill], and each of us will have six minutes [to comment on the bill and suggest amendments] in a speech. It's undemocratic. We ought to have a couple of days on the floor of the House for the second reading, that's the 'in principle' debate.
"You can't even deal with one of the subjects in this bill - and there are probably five or six big subjects - in six minutes," said Davis.
Meanwhile, Jim Killock, executive director of campaign organisation the Open Rights Group, said: "MPs of any political party who value democracy must resist the Government's attempts to rush the Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament.
"The UK's senior lawyers, its journalists and the tech industry have lambasted the Bill. Parliament's own committees have called for significant changes to its powers. But the Government is intent on forcing it into law. MPs must act before it's too late."
Many corporations have also come out against the bill, including encryption firm Echoworx. Jacob Ginsberg, senior director at the firm encouraged MPs to abstain from the vote.
"It is surprising more government parties aren't following Labour's lead in abstaining to vote on the impending Investigatory Powers Bill. The speed at which this bill has been rushed through parliament surely highlights key concerns about the level of research and lack of commitment to consumer privacy.
"There are very real costs, both tangible and intangible, to the UK if this bill is not implemented properly from the get go. In the short term, I cannot see how security-conscious cloud and hosting companies can continue business in the UK. In the longer term, as new technologies and means of communication arise, UK citizens need to know that their rights and safety are top of mind for the government. I think that the committee who reviewed the first draft shared some understandable fears - and it looks like too few of those have been addressed in this revision.
"Having the power to sweep up someone's browsing history without a warrant is just wrong. Moves to rush the bill through do little to reassure the public that their government is looking out for their best interests, especially when the government's exercise of these powers will not be subject to a meaningful judicial authorisation process.
"If this bill passes, we're going to see a tidal wave of other European countries look to impose similar legislation as well. It's important that not only the Labour party, but also the British public seize the opportunity to question this bill before the powers the UK government seeks are granted." µ
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