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19,000 Emails Against and 0 In Favor of UK Draft Communications Bill 174

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-looks-close dept.
Qedward writes "Open source writer Glyn Moody discusses the Draft Communications Bill (aka Snooper's Charter) in the UK and how the Joint Parliamentary Committee that had been considering the bill received almost 19,000 emails during its consultation period. He notes: 'Out of 19,000 emails received by the Committee on the subject of the proposed Draft Communications Bill, not a single one was in favor of it, or even agreed with its premise. Has there ever been a bill so universally rejected by the public in a consultation? Clearly, it must be thrown out completely.'"
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19,000 Emails Against and 0 In Favor of UK Draft Communications Bill

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  • Unfair comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PieMasters (2751119) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:35AM (#41628641)
    People always voice their concern when they're against something but rarely express their opinion if they're for it. This makes it unfair comparison. Just saying..
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:39AM (#41628675)

      And that is just one of the excuses we are likely to see when the government ignores the consultation and presses on regardless.

      It goes without saying that all the people who objected are probably terrorists and paedophiles.

      • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:4, Informative)

        by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:25AM (#41628903) Homepage

        But this bill is what we wanted. We voted the people in to government that are making this bill.

        I'm sure the government will use some bullshit excuse like this.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Better yet:

          1. Take the population of the UK.

          2. Subtract 19,000.

          3. Look how many people are in favor of this bill!

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:34AM (#41628941) Homepage

        And that is just one of the excuses we are likely to see when the government ignores the consultation and presses on regardless.

        It goes without saying that all the people who objected are probably terrorists and paedophiles.

        They're being added to the "extra surveillance" list as I write this.

      • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Nursie (632944) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:27AM (#41629163)

        Always the way.

        The last big one I remember was ID cards, which was also very skewed, but at the last minute the government decided that any results collected from the internet were unrepresentative and to be ignored.

        It's almost as if your opinion doesn't count if collected electronically, because it's too easy or something. Never mind that it brings down the barriers and allows people to participate just that little bit more in democracy, no citizen, you didn't try hard enough so even though we heard you we feel safe ignoring you.

        And they are safe, frankly. We never vote the bastards out because of this stuff.

        • by N1AK (864906)
          Many of these online campaigns/polls etc are pretty meaningless. When you are after informed debate then having a barrier to entry can often facilitate it better than a free for all especially when so many of those 19,000 emails will be a template. The quantity of emails only tells you how many emails you have received, and with a bit of analysis how that compares to other issues of a similar type. It doesn't tell you how many valid concerns were raised, how many opinions were repeated or how interested the
        • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:4, Informative)

          by Xest (935314) on Friday October 12, 2012 @07:43AM (#41629591)

          We use First Past the Post in the UK, chances are your opinion doesn't matter to your local MP anyway because they more often than not get elected with less than a third of their constituents supporting them.

          AV would've fixed this to some degree because it would've forced MPs to be at least somewhat palatable to over half their constituency, but it still wouldn't have been led to truly representative governments. Unfortunately the Tories and Murdoch saw that any hope of them having to at least somewhat listen to most of their constituents was thrown out the window whilst hypocritically and hence nonsensically arguing against an actual proportional representation system with the excuse that they wanted an electoral system where the electorate had representatives, which is great, except most of us don't, because our MPs don't actually represent our views in the slightest. As such, the Tory argument was actually irrelevant to the vast majority of the population as a change from a system where you have a representative that doesn't give a fuck what you think, to a system where you don't have a representative at all, is absolutely no change at all.

          But here's the real irony, the referendum WAS proportional, and most of the UK's population was too dumb to see that if they wanted MPs that at least somewhat listened to them, that was their opportunity. Instead, over 2/3rds of the population decide they didn't want that, and hence gave their implicit blessing to the status quo - of having MPs that don't give a shit what the vast majority of the country thinks.

          So honestly, you can't even blame MPs, the electorate had their chance and threw it away, it's the electorates fault entirely for being so fucking dumb on average that MPs don't listen to them because the electorate voted to maintain a system where MPs don't have to listen to them.

          So don't blame the MPs, like most people they're doing their job in a way that best suits them, and the electorate gave them the blessing they required to carry on doing that.

          • by Nursie (632944)

            Surely there's enough blame to go around?

            We can and should blame the MPs for doing unethical things, bringing in bad laws and generally behaving like arseholes.

            We can also blame the public for being complacent and not voting for AVC or whatever it was. In fact this latter blame apportioning appeals to me a lot because I left the country for several years, and when I came back I found out that the great unwashed had voted to continue being ignored. Morons!

            • by Xest (935314)

              Honestly, for me it's not so much the wrong doing but the hypocrisy that pisses me off.

              The same people who voted against AV will have been in the pub the next day bitching about how unaccountable politicians are.

              It's for that reason I believe those people deserve the largest proportion of the blame, because they were the ones who bitch and moan about this sort of thing but then when given the chance to at least partially mitigate it, decide not to, only to continue bitching and moaning again.

              You see a simil

            • by Xest (935314)

              So there I was, reading the BBC, catching up on the day's news, and I came across this:

              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-19921055 [bbc.co.uk]

              I believe this might actually be the strongest demonstration yet of what is wrong with our country. These people will have voted in the way they were told to vote by the media, because they're that fucking dumb. I think this really highlights everything that's wrong with the UK's electorate, these people need the vote taken away from them.

              How does this even end up on the

          • by smugfunt (8972)

            Instead, over 2/3rds of the population decide they didn't want [AV PR]

            I'm an expat, partly for the reasons we are discussing, so I didn't vote. But I would have voted against, not because I don't want PR but because AV is not it. If AV had passed there would be no chance of ever getting a real PR system adopted.

            • by Xest (935314)

              Why do you say that? AV would've given more voice to the parties supporting PR, which would've inherently pushed it up the agenda due to more MPs in parliament supporting it.

              Voting against AV has had the opposite effect because now any time anyone mentions proper electoral reform like PR the Tories and Murdoch's papers as well as The Daily Mail just go "Well look at the AV vote, no one is interested in electoral reform". This means that ALL electoral reform is now off the agenda for at least another decade

              • by smugfunt (8972)

                AV would've given more voice to the parties supporting PR

                If so the Tories would never have agreed to the referendum on it. Passing AV would have enabled PR opponents to say 'you've got it, shut up now' forever, while enjoying something very close to the status quo. In a decade or two perhaps pressure will have increased sufficiently for real reform to take place.

                • by Xest (935314)

                  The Tories wouldn't have had a choice as it would happen under a Labour, or Labour/Lib Dem government. Now they can't do that, because Labour/Lib Dems will be shot down in flames by the heavily Tory biased media hoarde if they so much as bring it up.

                  Waiting two decades, instead of one parliamentary term is just stupid. AV wasn't an improvement in terms of proportional representation, but at very least it solved the problem of MPs who are not representative of their constituents. Another two decades is simpl

      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:30AM (#41629173) Homepage

        Having read the results of a previous unrelated consulation (on anti-money laundering powers), that unfortunately sounds way too accurate. In that case actually most of the responses were for additional state surveillance and law enforcement powers, largely because it didn't get noticed by any groups like 38 Degrees or ORG so most responders were, eg, regulators, people who run compliance training firms, law enforcement themselves, companies that already paid the huge cost of compliance and wanted competitors to have to pay it too and other organizations that were by and large a part of "the system".

        In that case the consultation was triggered because a survey of "government activities that infringe civil liberties and individual freedom" highlighted the oppressive AML regime. Several years later, the results of the consultation concluded that the laws should be made even more intense! The government did get some dissenting submissions (such as mine). However the response was largely along the lines of, "we recognize the highlighted potential for abuse and you can rest assured we will be proportionate and reasonable in our application of these powers". Which is obviously stupid. The whole point for separation and limitation of government powers is you cannot assume reasonability over the long run! But despite that being pointed out they did not understand or care.

        Consultation processes do seem like little more than an exercise in box ticking, especially when the consultations are often so obscure or (too often) simply canvassing opinions only from people who stand to directly benefit.

      • by tubs (143128) on Friday October 12, 2012 @07:34AM (#41629535)

        19,000 people? What difference is that going to make? The government of the day ignored at least 750,000 (+/- some) people who appeared in person to protest. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/2765041.stm [bbc.co.uk]

      • by jdfox (74524)
        Yes, we'll get that, as well as the tried-and-true "praising with faint damn" approach:
        "Yes, perhaps it's not a perfect bill, but those who are rejecting it are arguing that we should do nothing."

        No, it's not perfect, because it's a bag of shit. Throw it out.

    • by ledow (319597) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:39AM (#41628679) Homepage

      Ah, yes, the Waitress/Teacher/Street Cleaner Imbalance.

      If you're doing a good job, people generally won't bother to tell you.
      If you're doing a bad one, people will let you know.

      That said, not receiving a SINGLE email for is sign of something - either you didn't do a proper consultation (and those people in favour didn't get the opportunity to reply) or people are vehemently against it. Either way, it means going back to the drawing board rather than pushing through with it.

      That doesn't mean that's what will happen, though.

    • by xaxa (988988) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:41AM (#41628689)

      People always voice their concern when they're against something but rarely express their opinion if they're for it. This makes it unfair comparison. Just saying..

      I don't think that's true. The article says that on assisted death, there were many replies on both sides.

      • by Xenx (2211586)

        People always voice their concern when they're against something but rarely express their opinion if they're for it. This makes it unfair comparison. Just saying..

        I don't think that's true. The article says that on assisted death, there were many replies on both sides.

        There's a difference between this, and assisted death. With this bill there really isn't much of a reason to be outwardly in support of it. However, there are definite reasons to not support it. In the case of assisted death, there are strong reasons to take both sides. As such, people are more likely to voice an opinion.

    • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Adelea (1181917) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:41AM (#41628693)
      In the report, they compared this bill with another one, which had appx 50/50 support - so that illustrated that people DO write in on both sides of the fence.
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      'ER' that is a lie ;D. People also very often express refinements and improvements to things when they are in favour of them. We like it, however can you change this and possibly add that. Just saying ;).

    • ...but there isn't some corporate or security fearmonger asshole somewhere (who might be, in the current mindset, worth thousands of "normal" people) that said "OMG TERRISTS?!?"

    • by rwise2112 (648849)

      People always voice their concern when they're against something but rarely express their opinion if they're for it. This makes it unfair comparison. Just saying..

      And of course here's the way they'll look at it - 'only 19000 against in the entire population! Surely it must be liked by most then.'

      • by tqk (413719)

        ... 'only 19000 against in the entire population! Surely it must be liked by most then.'

        To which I'd reply, "Yet out of the entire population - 19000, not one of them considered this important enough for them to say so. I think that speaks volumes about how important this bill is for them. Isn't there something you ought to be focusing your energy on instead of this?"

    • by methano (519830)
      You know what? I don't believe this crap. I didn't read the article but there is no way that you can 19,000 opinions, all in the same direction and not one dissenting from the majority. It's just not possible. Unless, maybe only one person responded because nobody knew about it and he responded 19,000 times. This is big time BS. If I was running anything and I asked for feedback and I got 19,000 con and 0 pro, or vice versa, I would ignore the input and look into how this happened.

      The conspiracy is
    • by sjames (1099)

      There is validity to that, but usually at least a few supporters speak up, no matter how crazy that something is. In this case it is 10,000 to zero. Apparently it is such a phenomenally bad idea that even the nutters don't like it.

  • I wrote to my MP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:38AM (#41628671)

    I wrote to my MP, via a link the Open Rights Group (which I'm a member of) sent. I was pleased with the reply -- my MP agreed with me, gave some additional points that I'd not made, and asked me to forward any reply I received to him.

    (At least, I think I did. There have been a few similar bills, and I've not necessarily kept up with which one is which.)

    • by alexo (9335)

      When I tried writing to my (Canadian) MP, Costas Menegakis [parl.gc.ca], expressing concerns about the digital locks provisions in bill C-11 and the fact that they trump *all* consumer rights, the result was an exercise in frustration.
      The reply that I received, was a generic blurb extolling the virtues of the bill. There was no mention of digital locks whatsoever.
      I then wrote him again, expressing my disappointment that my original message was apparently not read at all, reiterated my concerns and asked him again to ad

  • by Coisiche (2000870) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:43AM (#41628703)

    When faced by overwhelming public rejection of a Bill has there ever been a modern government that has thrown one out because of that? Clearly they will just change the name and sneak it in with something else. Because what do the public know?

    Government politics is now so completely flawed that it needs to be replaced. I'm with Billy Connolly when he said that "the desire to be an MP [modify as appropriate for your jurisdiction] should automatically prevent you from becoming one."

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:14AM (#41628855)

      I'm with Billy Connolly when he said that "the desire to be an MP [modify as appropriate for your jurisdiction] should automatically prevent you from becoming one."

      Isn't that more or less a rehash of Douglas Adams? "It is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. Anyone who is capable of getting themselves into a position of power should on no account be allowed to do the job."

      • Simple solution: you hold a lottery among all people of voting age. The losers go serve in the legislature. Lots of good points:
        1) Fair
        2) Representatives don't owe anyone payback for helping them into office
        3) Representatives are truly representative of society (i.e., no lawyer bias, or rich person's bias), and you might even see some homeless people in the legislature for a change
        4) When you make the changeover, enforce that any benefits they vote the Legislature membership don't go to them, but to

        • Oh, and one more good point I forgot. I read about someone who'd done an unscientific study in the US: they gave a civics test to random people in the street and to people serving in the House.

          Guess who scored higher on the civics test?

          So if random people perform better than the elected membership, well, why don't we have random people instead of the collection of "winners" we have now?

          --PM

          • by tqk (413719)

            I generally hate this saying but, I wish I had mod points. I really like your proposal. Too bad there's not a chance in hell we'll ever get a system like that, or at least in my lifetime anyway.

          • A lot would depend on who wrote the civics test. Remember that a lot of aspects of the US legal and political system are still the subject of much debate both in legal and popular forums, usually with both sides insisting with utter conviction that their own interpretation is clearly the correct one and anyone with half a brain should be able to see this. How highly one scores on a civics test would depend largely on how well one agrees with whoever wrote said test.
        • by dargaud (518470)
          It's called sortition [wikipedia.org] and was invented as soon as democracy itself. The caveat was that at the end of the term there was a vote to see if the incumbent had done a good job. If not they were executed. Caveat or advantage.
          • by Raenex (947668)

            The caveat was that at the end of the term there was a vote to see if the incumbent had done a good job. If not they were executed. Caveat or advantage.

            I can't find any support of that. Wikipedia has a reference that says it was for officials chosen by vote, as opposed to lottery, for whom the death penalty was a possibility:

            http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-43.html [historyandpolicy.org]

            "So, for [offices which required expertise] they made an exception to their general, ideologically-driven rule, and held elections. [..] The corollary of this conscious, deliberate exception was that the people came down extremely hard on elected officials who were deemed in so

        • by jader3rd (2222716)

          you hold a lottery among all people of voting age.

          I can see some additional problems. I wouldn't want it to be open to all people. There are some people who are very self destructive, and I wouldn't want to be ruled by people who can't take care of themselves.
          Another downside would be when a very charismatic, manipulative person gets chosen and has no check or balance in any of the other representatives. At that point the legislature becomes a one man show.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        This particular insight goes all the way back to Plato in The Republic, and probably further.

    • by Quakeulf (2650167)
      If I want to be sinister, I could try as hard as I could, but I would never possibly beat the government. This isn't even its final form.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:45AM (#41628713)

    ...suggest such a thing. Just like it's illegal to organize and conspire to murder or terrorize people. Oh wait. That means it already is.

  • Government doesn't pass or reject bills based on what its subjects want. Government passes or rejects bills based on what it wants.

  • I mean not to sound negative, but does anybody think that e-mails or petitions really matter in a sense that because you think you have a voice, that your opinion will matter to politicians? It's different in the UK I guess to a larger extent because you have more redress to vote the bums out of office if they aren't doing their job. In the US, we get petitions like the this and then the government choose to ignore it. [thinkprogress.org] I'm not being naive here and yes, social media is playing a bigger part in the attenti

    • by Altanar (56809) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:12AM (#41628843)
      Emails to your representative can work [arstechnica.com].

      "When SOPA-PIPA blew up, it was a transformative event," said Dodd. "There were eight million e-mails [to elected representatives] in two days." That caused senators to run away from the legislation. "People were dropping their names as co-sponsors within minutes, not hours," he said.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        That is the exception that proves the rule. Public opposition got major corporations to change their stance, which preceeded legislators changing their stances. And they're just going to push the same provisions through other means, e.g. trade agreements. Not a particularly inspiring example of the responsiveness of the US government to petitions from citizens.

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      There's a difference between a mere petition, and public consultation on a Bill to a Joint Parliamentary Committee under the Westminster system of government (i.e. as used in the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ etc.) The JPC is tasked with discussing and researching matters related to a specific piece of policy and as such must take into account the submissions it receives from industry and the public in forming its final opinion. They are commonly used when the subject matter of a proposed policy is controversia

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        But even if they obtain the consultation say for public input, do they actually follow that sentiment? If in this case all of the responses are negative, wouldn't that send a clear signal or would it just be ignored? Politicians in the US tend to feel very safe and secure once elected and it takes a real screw up or term limits to typically unseat a politician bent on holding office. I'm not sure in the UK if this actually is the same in practice but most politicians in the US could really give a shit a

  • by gsslay (807818) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:20AM (#41628893)

    When you are directly quoting someone's writing it is usually considered a professional courtesy not to change the spelling to suit your own preferences.

    He did not say "not a single one was in favor of it", he said "not a single one was in favour of it.

  • I'm guessing that the only people who would support it are unable to open an email client.

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:37AM (#41628959) Journal

    Clearly, the submitter doesn't understand the purpose of a consulation in the UK if he thinks this will get the bill thrown out.

    The purpose of a public consultation is so that Westminster can tick a box saying "we had a public consultation". If the consultation is favourable, they additionally may say that a bill has public support. If a consultation is negative, the consultation is simply ignored. I've responded to a couple of these consultations and I shan't bother again because they were simply ignored despite volumes of correspondence voicing (often constructive) opposition.

    Perhaps a consultation won't be ignored if the majority of the comments are from marginal constituencies, but 19,000 voters can safely be totally ignored if not.

  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:52AM (#41629019) Journal

    As I already commented, consultations generally are to tick a box "we had a consultation" (not to pay any actual attention to the responses), furthermore the document from "JOINT COMMITTEE ON DRAFT COMMUNICATIONS DATA BILL" is already titled "WRITTEN EVIDENCE: SUMMARY OF CHAIN EMAILS" (sorry about caps, copy and pasting from the PDF). They note more than once that most of the emails are pro-forma and go onto mention it's from a political pressure group website. This means furthermore that the responses will be ignored.

    If you're ever responding to a European Union consultaiton, they say right up front that pro-forma responses will be ignored (at least they are honest) - so if you ever want the slightest chance that your response to an EU consultation then you have to write your concerns in your own words. I suspect Westminster is the same, they just don't come right out and say it.

    Therefore I'm even more pessimistic that anyone is going to pay the slightest bit of attention to this consultation - it will be full steam ahead for this awful bill.

    • I wrote to my then MP three years ago regarding some legislation regarding copyright and fair use. She said many things about IP being an important part of our economy, protection or rights being important, but ultimately this new law wouldn't help and her party (Lib Dem) and therefore herself would be voting against it.

      She didn't even turn up to the vote. Don't think personally written correspondence is treated any better.
      • by Coisiche (2000870)

        She didn't even turn up to the vote.

        This is the thing that probably annoys me most about our MPs. Their attendance is beyond shockingly lax and wouldn't be tolerated in the corporate world.

        The only vote that they will definitely turn up for is one that their party is forcing a strong whip on. And even then they turn up only to vote according to the party line even if it would be against the wishes of the people that actually voted them to office.

        Ok, people have occasionally defied a whip but it's very rare.

      • She may have found someone from the other side and agree to be 'paired' with them. Then neither of them vote on the bill.

      • They have a process ( perhaps not quiet that formal) in teh uk whereby unless the parties insist on it someone opossing a vote pairs up with someone voting for it and that way they can both go and do more impotrant things like f**king mistresses or going to important meetings to be bribed than actually turn up and vote.
    • If you want to see a real political consultation, try looking at the one over the proposed introduction of opt-out pornography filtering on all UK internet connections. I tried to respond, but it was written like a parody of surveying. Most of the questions were multible choice, and every option available was in support of the filtering - it was quite literally impossible to object on those questions! I was half-expecting the final question to be 'Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes/no.' There were a fe
  • Perhaps the ones in favour were intercepted and censored in the spirit of the bill. ;-)
  • by 3seas (184403) on Friday October 12, 2012 @07:52AM (#41629679) Journal

    Don't ask for consultation and you won't get rejection. The US politicians try to do this all the time and sometime it slips by in fine print along with other bills.

  • About 3 years ago, our government held a nationwide public consultation on copyright reform. The response was tremendous (greater response than any other similar consultation in our country's history, in fact), and with only a handful of exceptions, there was a very pronounced unifying voice among the responses, which was to *NOT* offer legal protections to digital locks in a similar manner to the US's DMCA.

    But...meet Bill C-32 (for those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a lot like the DMCA, but doesn't

  • Had this act already passed, there'd be no need to send emails. They'd ready know the views of John Taylor of Poole, along with tens of millions more people.

  • "Out of 19,000 emails received by the Committee on the subject of the proposed Draft Communications Bill, not a single one was in favor of it, or even agreed with its premise. Has there ever been a bill so universally rejected by the public in a consultation?"

    In other words, the people overwhelmingly support this initiative and it should be implemented as soon as possible, probably way pay raises for the politicians involved?

  • Reminds me of when Google introduced its new version of News a couple-three years back. There were thousands of messages on its user forum deploring the new interface, and asking for the old one back. I never saw a single message in favor of the new version. (Ok, there was one, but it was tongue-in-cheek.)

    FWIW, Google never did go back to the old version, despite its unanimous rejection on the part of users.

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