The government has been accused of attempting to smuggle the so-called Snoopers’ Charter into law by tacking it on as an amendment to other legislation.
Four Lords submitted a series of amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which is currently making its way through the House of Lords, having already been rushed through parliament since being tabled in November.
Now, an 18-page amendment has been submitted by four Lords, including former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Blair, arguing that greater data monitoring and collection powers are vital to help the government stop terrorism.
These amendments include ensuring that "communications data is available to be obtained from telecoms operators by relevant public authorities".
This will effectively allow security forces and the police to access communications data at any time.
The move to force telecoms companies to retain data for monitoring purposes comes in spite of a ruling in Europe last year that such data retention is illegal and must stopped.
The move to submit the amendments at such a late stage in the bill’s progress was widely criticised. The Open Rights Group called it an ‘abuse of procedure’.
“Laying 18 pages of clauses before the Lords to insert the Snoopers' Charter into an already complicated bill is an abuse of procedure,” it said.
“The Lords cannot have time to properly consider the bill, and would deny the Commons the opportunity to consider the clauses as well.”
Liberal Democrat Lord Strasburger took to Twitter to condemn the move and promised to try to stop the amendments being approved.
The next stage of the bill’s progress through parliament takes place on 26 January, when the debate over the amendments will no doubt take centre stage.
The issue of data collection and monitoring has been playing out for some time, with the idea of a Snoopers' Charter continually being debated by government and its opponents.
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