Public don’t trust Snoopers’ Charter and say it’s a waste of money

Today Big Brother Watch has published new research showing just how little support the Home Office’s draft Communications Data bill has.

You can read our briefing on the bill here and why we don’t think it’s right the Government passes a law requiring data to be stored about everyone’s communications.

Witnesses have lined up to tell the specially established Joint Committee investigating the draft bill how the legislation is a risk to economic growth, innovation, cyber security, foreign policy, not to mention the privacy and civil liberties of every British citizen. From our research, conducted with YouGov, it is clear the public are not content with having their every email, social media message, website visit and online conversation’s logged and stored.

Despite rhetoric reminiscent of ID Cards and 90 day detention, just 6% of people think the Government has made a clear and compelling argument for the draft Communications Data Bill.

As many witnesses have warned, it is impossible to guarantee data security once it is collected. The public agree –  71% say they do not trust that the data will be kept secure.

Of course, the estimated £1.8bn cost (if indeed it comes in on budget) is money that could be spent on providing more, better trained police officers and ensuring they have the right equipment and skills to deal with the new technological landscape.  The public are equally aware of this concern, with 50% saying it is bad value for money, compared to just 12% who say it is good value.

With so much of our everyday lives reliant now on internet-based communications – a trend that will only accelerate as eHealthcare and Government services become standard – the questions about privacy are particularly acute. Would you want to visit the website of an an abortion provider, email Alcoholics Anonymous or Skype with business contacts about a sensitive deal if you knew the details of who you spoke to, when, for how long and how much data was passed between you was recorded?  41% of online respondents say they would be less likely to use online websites and services if the was bill passed.

The public have seen through the scaremongering rhetoric and see the snoopers’ charter it for the waste of money that it is. Instead of spending two billion pounds on another dodgy IT project, the Home Office should be making sure there are enough police officers with the right skills and equipment to investigate online crime.

While the real criminals take simple steps to hide their activity, the law would require every single’s person’s emails and messages to be monitored and the public are right to be concerned that the data won’t be kept secure.

The draft Communications Data Bill will hurt growth in the digital economy, undermine British foreign policy, create huge security risks and treats us all as suspects. The message from the public, technical experts and communications companies is clear – the only place this bill belongs is the bin.