If we can summon up any enthusiasm, or delude ourselves that the Home Office politicians might genuinely listen to our concerns and practical suggestions, then Spy Blog might make a formal submission to this new Public Consultation:
Passed in 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (called RIPA), created a regulatory framework to govern the way public authorities handle and conduct covert investigations.
This consultation takes a look at all the public agencies, offices and councils that can use investigation techniques covered by RIPA, and asks the public to consider whether or not it's appropriate for those people to be allowed to use those techniques.
In light of recent concerns, the government is particularly interested in how local authorities use RIPA to conduct investigations into local issues. Among other things, in order to ensure that RIPA powers are only used when they absolutely need to be, the government proposes to raise the rank of those in local authorities who are allowed to authorise use of RIPA techniques.
To respond to the consultation, reply by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also reply by post to:
Peel Building 5th Floor
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
If you need a copy of the consultation in any other format (such as Braille, large font, or audio) please write to the address above to request it.
This consultation closes 10 July 2009.
The Home Office has to re-establish public trust in the supposed "public consultation" process, which they have cynically abused in the past.
The wretched Home Office rushed through a Statutory Instrument (not debated by Parliament) which implemented the very policy being supposedly consulted about, halfway through the 12 week public consultation period, without even bothering to pretend that they had "listened" to any of the evidence being submitted !
Remember also that this is not the promised public consultation on the Communications Data Bill, and on the Home Secretary's evil idea about secretly data trawling the phone and internet records of millions of innocent people, currently kept by the private sector telecommunications and internet companies, Such a centralised government database would sneak around the current authorisation and financial audit trails and budget restraints (the authorities have to pay the private sector a small fee for each request). It would also further neuter the weak oversight and paperwork sample auditing, by the deliberately under resourced Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioners, established under RIPA, who can only ever hope to examine a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands requests for Communications Data made every year.
This Bill was threatened last year and the "public consultation" was supposed to gave started this January 2009, and seems to be attempting to create Yet Another Massive Secret National Database Of Innocent People, on the back of the necessary ongoing investment to keep GCHQ's capabilities at the state of the art, via the so called Interception Modernisation Programme.