Get your MP to the Snowden debate

This is my letter to Jim Dowd MP, which explains what’s going on and what I think about it better than anything I might post. I wrote it using the ORG write-to-them tool and template, but the reasoning is my own:

At 1.30pm on Thursday 31st October MPs will debate “Oversight of the intelligence and security services” in Westminster Hall. This will be the first substantial debate in Parliament about the mass surveillance programmes revealed by Edward Snowden.

It is the basic purpose on a Government to protect the individual rights of citizens. Including free-speech and freedom of action. Mass surveillance curtails both of those basic freedoms and should only be conducted for defined periods with defined goals while war is properly declared, and for no longer than the duration of that war.

I feel very strongly that Parliament should be discussing these issues and so as one of your constituents I ask that you attend the debate. From the information published so far, it seems that surveillance law is not fit for the digital age. I do feel that significant reforms are needed, in particular a narrowing of scope to cover only those whom there is a specific reason to suspect. Also Parliament must define the program’s goals and give a clear end-date or exit-criteria for the program, which should be considered temporary.

If you are unable to make the debate on Thursday afternoon, I hope you will be able to attend a briefing on the issue with civil society groups on Thursday morning at 10.30am in Committee Room 21 (note: I do not neccessarily endorse all of those groups, but it is nevertheless an opportunity to hear more detail).

Edward Snowden’s leaks show that GCHQ has developed a range of mass surveillance programmes that were not imagined the last time that Parliament voted on this area, and were not a subject of approval or debate at an election.

Please attend the debate on Thursday to represent my views and take part in the discussion.

Sincerely, Simon Gibbs

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