Huppert leads fight to protect privacy
April 4, 2012
Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert has led his Lib Dem colleagues in sending a strong message to the government that they will do everything in their power to protect privacy.
Julian and 16 other MPs signed a letter to The Independent warning that the state must not be given power to “snoop on its citizens”.
“Liberal Democrats in Government will not follow the last Labour Government by sounding the retreat on the protection of civil liberties in the United Kingdom,” the letter says. “It continues to be essential that our civil liberties are safeguarded and that the state is not given the powers to snoop on its citizens at will.
“It is absolutely vital that the public get a chance to see and debate the details of any proposals to extend state surveillance, not just being presented with a Home Office fait accompli. It is also essential that the initial plans include adequate safeguards – which should be stronger than the current weak controls.”
The letter draws on the Lib Dems’ “proud history of defending civil liberties, both in opposition and more recently in Coalition Government”.
Since joining the coalition in 2010 the Lib Dems have destroyed the ID cards database, stopped the indefinite retention of innocent people’s DNA, shut down the ContactPoint database, stopped mass fingerprinting of children without parental permission and ended child detention for immigration purposes.
At its Spring Conference in Gateshead, the party called for stronger safeguards on existing surveillance measures and asserted the Lib Dems’ long-standing tradition of protecting human rights.
The letter added: “Following worrying reports of possible government proposals to collect real time information on people's activity online, including from social media sites, we are pleased to hear yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister making clear his commitment to civil liberties and protecting privacy, and confirming that the Government will publish draft legislation with sufficient time for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny.”
Julian said later: “We will not stand by and allow this government to introduce legislation which puts in jeopardy such a vital issue which is at the heart of everything we stand for.
“Since joining the coalition, we have made huge strides in protecting civil liberties and we will continue to do so at every level. We must have stronger safeguards to protect our citizens’ right to privacy. That is a basic right of a democratic society and we will not let this government erode it.”