Watching the LibDems risk backpedalling into #CCDP /cc @markpack @julianhuppert @drjennywoods @glyndaviesmp @glynmoody @glynwintle

So I ran into this report of a LibDem peer:

Lib Dems must ‘grow up’ on Snooper’s Charter

A Lib Dem peer has told his party it is time to “grow up” and support the Communications Data Bill. Lord Carlile of Berriew said there was a risk of the issue being turned into a “political football”, and warned it was “irresponsible” to label the proposed changes “the end of civil liberties as we know it”.

…which led via tweets to the blog of Glyn Davies MP:

Lord Carlile of Berriew was my immediate next door neighbour for the whole 13yr period he represented Montgomeryshire in the House of Commons. He was also and remains a good friend, and a man whose opinions I have always taken great note of. I suppose you could look on us as a early precursor to the current Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition. I respect his opinion, especially on legal matters. Today its being reported that he has told his Lib Dem colleagues to “grow up” in its approach to the Communications Data Bill. He has described some comments opposing the Bill as “irresponsible”. And last week he said that the term “Snooper’s Charter”, (which is used by many who have contacted me as part of an email lobbying group’s campaign) as a “complete traducement of the Bill”. He’s also makes the point that many private firms collect more intrusive information about us already. None of this surprises me because I met up with Alex two weeks ago for a coffee and discussion about all this.


The questions we as MPs have to face is whether we are content to allow the Internet to operate as an ‘unpoliced space’ where criminals are free to roam, and whether the Communications Bill before us strikes the right balance between law enforcement and individual’s privacy. Its no surprise that the Parliamentary process is leading to significant changes being made to the proposals. So far I’ve been publicly wholly supportive of the Home Secretary, even if I’ve shared some concern privately. Its a difficult sensitive issue

…with some marvellous commentary from the likes of Mark Pack, Glyns Moody and Wintle, and so on. This was all before New Year; so I’ve just left the following contribution:

I realise that it’s a ‘big ask’ of a serving MP to invest time in cybersecurity philosophy, but the whole notion of the internet as a “space” which requires special policing is erroneous, as I demonstrate in my presentation on the topic at Slideshare.

In a nutshell the internet is communication, it is the transport of ideas rather than tangible goods. If we were to cast the notion of Cyberspace back into the 1950s we would have something like ‘Telephoneworld’ – where instead of “conmen” we would have “telephone criminals”, and instead of corporate spies we would have “telephone espionage”. If this sounds silly then why is “cybercrime” any less so?

In America they have a history of this – there are 1870/telegraph-era American “wire fraud” statutes precisely because of the focus upon means, not ends – and to deal with harmonisation of laws inherent in the notion of communication across states. In the end it’s still fraud, or other forms of already-understood crime. We habitually confuse new mediums for the actions performed over them, and commonly decide that any new medium requires its own legislation and even policing.

The Internet *is* communication, between people and people, between people and services. It is unpalatable to Government to acknowledge that policing of communication demands filtering, and that filtering of communication is censorship. This unpalatability motivates the ongoing fiction that the internet is a space – cyberspace – which can be policed and even “defended” like the White Cliffs of Dover – but if someone ever asks “What are the boundaries of British Cyberspace?” they government never be able to provide a satisfactory answer, for there is no answer. One might equally ask “what are the boundaries of ‘British Speech’ ?”

And what is the proposal of CCDP? Nothing more than the demand to record every instance of whom talked to whom. As a LibDem, does that not make you feel concerned?

From inside the party I would recommend @DrJennyWoods to discuss the matter. Or even Mark Pack. 🙂

Alec Muffett,
Network Security Consultant and Architect

Again and again I encounter the “Wild West”-type analogies, up to and including Cyberwarfare. But as Marcus Ranum explains, it really doesn’t work like that.

2 Replies to “Watching the LibDems risk backpedalling into #CCDP /cc @markpack @julianhuppert @drjennywoods @glyndaviesmp @glynmoody @glynwintle”

  1. Hmm. Lord Carlile gave oral evidence to the CCDP Joint Committee on October 17th, so it may be worth looking the minutes up, to see what he had to say. He may well be right that private companies collect more data – however I suspect the private companies he’s considering will have the luxury of being an endpoint in the communication rather than a mere data conduit, and thus they are able to benefit from being able to rely on having correlated cleartext to look at.

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