Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 17 July 2014


Most of this week at Westminster has been spent on putting in place a new legal framework for making sure that companies which operate the systems by which we all communicate electronically, have to retain it for a set period of time.

It is necessary in the fight against terrorism to help detect and disrupt the plans that our enemies deploy to attack us. The previous legal framework which was contained in a 2006 EU Directive has recently been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice, so we are moving quickly to ensure that all companies that maintain communications records of British citizens are in no doubt that they have to keep them safe and allow our secret services to look at them if the need arises.

I have supported the government in this attempt to shore up our law. I realise that we have to balance civil liberties and security and that enabling government to look at stored communications data contains certain risks. But sadly we live in a world where there are people out to destroy us. That risk has got worse since the setting up of the new Jihadists state in north Iraq. Most terrorists have to communicate across national borders and it seems that telephones and e-mails are still the primary means of sharing their plans.

On my recent China trip, I remember talking to a young Chinese student who was convinced that her government was looking at every e-mail she sent. She was probably right. I do not want that situation in the UK and it certainly not what is proposed by these new laws.
They simply force EE or BT or Google to store my communications for a number of years so that if I am proposing to blow up Devonport Dockyard it will help to track me down.

I have little doubt that the majority of my constituents are very keen to make sure sufficient security measures are in place. I have been in many meetings over the years when constituents have expressed the view that they would like more CCTV in shopping and town centres, and not less. We understand the slight intrusion on personal liberty, but are prepared to accept it to make ourselves safer from attack.

Similar principles apply with data retention. There are risks to our individual freedom, but the risks to personal safety are far higher if we do not have robust laws in place.

posted by Gary @ 10:46