May 26, 2023Counter-Terrorism Impunity Surveillance Article 8 Human Rights Act Tech International Security and Rule of Law Accountability and Access to Justice
On Tuesday 16 May, the Labour Party supported RSI’s analysis of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill in a Committee debate.
RSI has repeatedly raised concerns that clauses 24-26 of the Bill will create new, unnecessary and unaccountable surveillance powers for police.
Stephanie Peacock, Labour MP and spokesperson on the Bill, supported RSI’s analysis (at cols 169-170):
‘In their oral and written evidence, representatives from Rights and Security International warned that clauses 24 to 26 could actually violate the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights. Everything that the UK does, including in the name of national security or intelligence services, must comply with human rights and the ECHR. That means that any time there is interference with the privacy of people in the UK—which is considered a fundamental right—for it to be lawful, the law in question must do only what is truly necessary for national security. That necessity standard is a high one, and it does not take into account whether a change might be more convenient for a competent authority.
‘Will the Minister clearly explain in what way the potential powers given to law enforcement under clauses 24 to 26, in both national security certificates and designation notices, would be strictly proportionate and necessary for national security, rather than simply making the operations of law enforcement easier and more convenient?
‘It is vital, then, that Minister confirms that both national security certificates and designation notices will be used only where necessary, and exemptions will be allowed only where necessary. If that cannot be satisfied, we must oppose the clauses.
‘Where powers are available to provide exemptions to privacy protections on grounds of national security, it is important that they are protected from exploitation, and not unduly concentrated in any individual’s hands without appropriate checks and balances. However, Rights and Security International warned that that was not taken into appropriate consideration in clause 25. Instead, the power to issue designation notices has been concentrated almost entirely in the hands of the Secretary of State, with no accountability measures built in.’
For further information, see RSI’s oral evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee here, and RSI’s briefing here.
Sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news, views and events from Rights and Security International.