Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Tory MP in battle with ministers over ‘snooping bill’ safeguards

Coffee House has learned that a Tory MP is engaged in a fight with the Home Office on safeguards for its proposed ‘snooping bill’.

The fate of the Draft Communications Data Bill could be decided on Tuesday when a cross-party committee reports back on the legislation. Nick Clegg is already reported to be considering dropping the Liberal Democrats’ support for the Bill, and the joint committee’s report is expected to take a negative view of the proposals. One Liberal Democrat member, Lord Strasburger, told Home Secretary Theresa May that the proposals for monitoring internet users’ records were a ‘honeypot for casual hackers, blackmailers, criminals large and small from around the world, and foreign states’.

Part of the government’s justification for the bill rests on filtering arrangements which ministers argue would only return relevant data, rather than information which could then be mined by those on Strasburger’s list. But Conservative MP Dominic Raab, who is deeply concerned about the legislation, is irritated that the government is refusing to provide information on how those filtering arrangements will work in practice. He is appealing to the Information Commissioner’s Office after having a freedom of information request refused by the Home Office.

Raab wants to know what advice ministers have received from officials about how the filtering mechanism would work, what warnings experts have given about the risks to information, and how much the filter would cost.

In his letter to the ICO, seen by Coffee House, Raab writes:

‘As I argued in my letter of 22 October 2012, it cannot be appropriate for all available information regarding how the filtering arrangements under the CCDP will operate in practice to be withheld on the basis of an undefined threat to national security.

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