In its response to the story in today’s news about the government’s plans to legislate to make it easier to monitor people’s communications, the Home Office said the following:
As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the government’s approach to civil liberties.
The language is such that this paragraph could mean the government plans to legislate to do just about anything, which is perhaps why there has been little or no comment on this in the media until now. And presumably the reason we are now seeing media coverage is because of some tactical briefing by some interested party – be that the Home Office hoping to soften people up ahead of the Queen’s Speech or opponents hoping to drum up opposition before any proposal gets off the ground.
What is clear is that the detail around this policy is very much unclear, and I hope Liberal Democrat parliamentarians will be pressing the government to make clear its intentions so we can all respond to a concrete policy rather than mere speculation.