Without Communications Data Bill we could face more emergency legislation, says Admiral Lord West

Admiral Lord West predicts that more emergency legislation over monitoring communications is likely to be needed if the Communications Data Bill does not go forward.

By Sarah.Aston

21 Oct 2014

According to West, who is a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, the introduction of the emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill that was pushed through Parliament in July 2014 was a result of the “failure” to bring forward the Communications Data Bill and more emergency legislation is likely if the Bill does not go forward.

Put forward by Home Secretary Theresa May, the Communications Data Bill proposes that internet service providers and mobile phone companies collect and maintain records of users’ internet activity, email correspondence, voicemails and phone messaging services, and store these record for 12 months.

Discussing the Bill’s initial success in Parliament, West said: “[The Bill] had gone through a committee of both parts of the house, it had been almost completely rewritten, it made absolute sense, it gave protection to our individual citizens and I’m not embarrassed to say it, but I’m afraid it was Mr Clegg who threw it out.”

This was a “dreadful thing” West said, adding: “I think it’s a real problem for us and will put us at risk.”

Discussing the digital priorities in a post wiki-leaks and post-Snowden environment, West said: “RIPA [The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000] needs to be re-written and therefore we’ve got to bring that Communications Data Bill forward.

If we don’t manage to do all this by December of next year, and it’s going to be very tight with an election there, then actually we’ll need more emergency legislation again to ensure we are properly protected.”

Admiral Lord West was speaking at Westminster Forum’s National Security Summit as part of a panel discussion on the future of national security on October, 21 October. 

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