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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Miliband & Cooper write to Labour MPs about emergency surveillance legislation

the Labour Leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper have today written to all Labour MPs following the coalition announcement of emergency legislation to maintain phone and internet surveillance powers following the ECJ judgement.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Colleague,

As a result of a recent judgement by the European Court of Justice, the police and intelligence agencies are in danger of losing vital information which is used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations as well as counter terror investigations and online child abuse.

In order to prevent this, UK legislation needs to change to be compliant with EU law. If these changes are not made, the police are likely to suddenly lose vital evidence this summer.

The Government has come forward with emergency legislation and in considering our response, we have been guided by our firm conviction that it is essential to maintain the security of our citizens and also ensure people's privacy is protected.

Serious criminal investigations and counter terrorism intelligence operations must not be jeopardised. That is why we are supporting this emergency legislation which we accept is designed solely to protect existing capabilities.

However, given the limited Parliamentary time to discuss emergency legislation we have ensured that the Government agree to make this legislation temporary - it will expire in 2016. That will require the Government and Parliament properly to consult on and consider longer term proposals next year.

We have also now secured agreement to our proposal for a major independent review of the legal framework governing data access and interception (the RIPA review we called for earlier this year) in the light of the huge changes in technology. As we have previously argued, in the wake of the Snowden leaks and the concerns raised about whether the legal framework has failed to keep up with new technology, we need a wider public debate about the right balance between security and privacy online, a review of powers and stronger oversight.

This review will enable longer term questions and concerns to be properly dealt with and debated in time for new legislation. Changes will then follow. We have also called for and secured further safeguards to restrict the ways in which communications data and intercept can be used to prevent misuse.

We have raised serious concerns with the Government about this rushed process and we will scrutinise the detail in Parliament next week. But we will support the temporary legislation with the safeguards we have secured as it would be far too damaging to the fight against serious crime, online child abuse and counter terrorist intelligence to suddenly lose these capabilities now, and our safeguards have secured a better process for longer term reform to make sure we have the right capabilities and the right safeguards in place.

Ed Miliband MP & Yvette Cooper MP