One of the lesser known bits of the Snooper’s Charter going through parliament is the sharing of intelligence with foreign powers such as the United States. It is a perfectly sensible idea in principle, as we all want our governments to cooperate in order to deal with international terrorism, but it will soon be used to examine the personal lives of millions of innocent people.
The Investigatory Powers Bill allows the government to scoop up everything about your online connections. It will tell the government who you talk to, what you look at and where you have been. All this information will be available to be shared with the Trump administration and the decision about whether it should be shared will be a political, not a judicial one. It won’t matter whether you have committed a crime or advocated non-violence, there are other criteria that could put you on the list. Attending the wrong protest, or being vocal on certain issues, will be enough.
Rather than focusing resources on real terrorists, the government placed senior journalists and prominent green politicians like myself on the domestic extremism database and logged our actions. Plus the police are currently wasting a lot of taxpayers’ money to harass local campaigners who are protesting against fracking. I think it’s very likely the police and the security agencies will use the new powers to expand the list of people they don’t approve of.
The Intelligence and Security Committee recommended that the IP Bill spell out the constraints on information sharing, but the Government has failed to do so. Is this really acceptable when we are dealing with a President-Elect who has committed to surveilling all Mosques, banning Muslims, investigating Black Lives Matter activists and deporting two million people, to name only a few terrifying proposals?
Even under Obama, the US have already banned John Stewart, the well-respected campaigner against Heathrow expansion. A Trump administration is more than capable of adding anti-racism campaigners, climate change activists, Muslims, or feminists to a list of people it wants to screen. The world has changed with the election of Trump. The Labour Party must recognise this by joining with the Greens and others to oppose the Investigatory Powers Bill.