Off the Fence: Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery
Despite all the general turmoil over the referendum result, parliament is still working and important legislation is being debated and amended.
One such law is the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill – a piece of legislation designed to help the authorities stop terrorism in our country.
Such a danger as this poses a unique problem for government – how to keep the country safe, but also safeguard hard fought for freedoms.
The argument goes that, if the powers-that-be crackdown too hard on freedoms in an attempt to foil attacks, then the terrorists have won.
The IP Bill is really this whole issue in a nutshell – the fine balance freedom and intrusion.
It is the latest in a long list of bills all wrongly dubbed either a snoopers’ or spies’ charter that actually aim to bring surveillance measures we already have for telephone communications, for example, up to date to incorporate the internet age.
Not surprisingly, terrorists aren’t using the phone too much these days. It’s in the dark recesses of the internet where they work on their plans and we need to know what is going on there.
This is controversial stuff and the government has negotiated hard with other parties to make sure we have something that does what is needed while offering safeguards to ensure our freedoms are being protected.
The main areas of concern boil down to what information the authorities can access, who can access it and what are the safeguards against abuse.
That we are able to have such arguments about this legislation shows this is still a country that wishes to find that fine balance between privacy and intrusion.
No law of this sort is ever going to please everyone, but my view is that such a Bill is needed now because the danger is so acute to our country.