tl;dr: This zombie bill no politician seems able to kill is a pandora’s box that will lead to a public panopticon.
Since it’s still very much in play at the moment I was invited to represent the Open Rights Group (together with Big Brother Watch) at a discussion of the pending Communications Data Bill (CDB) at the South-Central Liberal Democrat Regional Conference today.
My main point was that the Bill creates an unprecedented resource for the security services to “go fishing” in everyone’s private affairs. “Communications Data” means “everything that’s not the message” for every kind of internet use (e-mail, instant messaging, voice communication, streaming and so on), and collecting all of it from everyone in Britain on a rolling 12-month basis (with some information held indefinitely) offers a massive pool in which to use heuristics to pattern match answers to open questions.
Whatever boundaries may be placed on it now, it’s certain that its scope will creep once created, pushed one notch towards the public panopticon every time another panic-keyword-crisis occurs. Allowing CDB to proceed would be an enormous error and the thin end of a wedge that will permanently remove the assumption of privacy from all of us.
Here are the slides I used:
You can also find them at Speakerdeck; sadly, WordPress.Com doesn’t allow me to embed slides from that system, which I prefer. Let’s hope the Lib-Dems take this seriously and don’t treat it as another gaming chip like they did university fees…