Lord Bassam

Lord Bassam of Brighton Labour Peer. Runner up for Worst Public Servant in the 2000 UK Big Brother Awards.


Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

House of Lords debate Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill 12 June 2000

I have read the press coverage. We have received many representations. We wish to be as helpful as we can. However, the public debate has revealed some very serious misunderstandings about the Bill. We must, first, try to correct those misunderstandings because some of them are ill judged, while others are misconceived. They are also beginning to skew somewhat the debate. ...

Lord Bassam's written reply to the question that RIP permits GCHQ trawling of domestic Internet.

House of Lords debate Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill 25 May 2000

My Lords, I beg to move that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill be now read a second time. I commend the Bill to your Lordships and in doing so take the opportunity to explain the thinking of the Government in bring it forward ...
... Even this--the power to demand that data be decrypted--is simply a necessary response to new technologies. In simple terms, a wide variety of situations exist under which at present law enforcement and other agencies can acquire data. That may be through the interception of communications; it may be through a production order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act; or it may be because an individual has wandered into a police station and handed over a floppy disk. In all such cases, we would expect the person to whom the data were handed to be able to read them. In its various guises, the current law provides for that. However, the development and marketing of encryption technologies means that the recipients of those data may not be able to read them in future. The Bill provides them with a power to demand that the data be decrypted.

Data Retention

Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2007 24 July 2007

Communications data have nothing to do with the content of a communication. They are information about who is communicating with whom, when and where they are communicating and the type of communication. Typically, public communications providers have retained this information for their own business purposes, such as billing, network management and the prevention of fraud. Different businesses retain this data for different periods, and once the business purpose for retaining the data has expired, they are required to destroy it. These regulations are relevant only to businesses that keep their data for less than a year.
Without this data, the ability of the police and the Security Service painstakingly to investigate the associations between those involved in terrorist attacks and those who may have directed or financed their activity would be limited. The police and the Security Service's ability to investigate terrorist plots and serious crime must not be allowed to depend on the business practice that happens to be employed by the public communications provider that a particular suspect, victim or witness used. These draft regulations will ensure that, regardless of which public communication provider supplies the service, the communications data will be available.

Retention of Communications Data (Further Extension of Initial Period) Order 2005

The purpose of the order is to extend, for a further two years, the initial period within which the Secretary of State may, by order, authorise the giving of directions to require communications service providers to retain communications data.
Communications data—that is, data about communications and how they are made, but not what was said or written—remains a vital investigative tool. It provides evidence of associations between individuals and events in time and place. It also provides evidence of innocence. Without data of this sort being available, one of the suspects for the attempted terror attack on London on 21 July may well have evaded arrest in Rome. It is also likely that the ability of the police and the Security Service to painstakingly investigate the associations between those involved in all of the July attacks, and with those who may have directed or financed their activity, would be limited. Many individuals convicted of the most serious offences with evidence communications data might escape detection and prosecution.
Yet, the availability of such data is not guaranteed. The effectiveness with which the police can investigate offences can depend upon which communications service provider a suspect, victim or witness has used. Service providers are required to erase data or make it anonymous once a communication is completed, unless the provider needs to retain it for a business purpose. Once the provider has no need of keeping that data it is destroyed, within days—or, sometimes, minutes—of the communication taking place. One consequence of a vibrant and competitive communications sector is a trend to reduce costs, and to retain less data or even stop retaining it at all.


2007-07-27 - OUT-LAW - Data retention law passed in UK
Summary: UK telecoms companies will have to keep phone call logs for a year under a new law to come into force in October. The law does not apply to records of internet activity, such as web surfing, email and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls. ... "Communications data, such as mobile phone billing data, have a proven track record in supporting law enforcement and intelligence agency investigations and are a vital investigative tool," said Lord Bassam of Brighton, who proposed the adoption of the Regulations this week in the House of Lords. "They provide evidence of associations between individuals and can place them in a particular location. They also provide evidence of innocence."
2006-01-24 - The Register - Decoupling from passports added to ID Card Bill's woes
Author: John Lettice
Summary: Government suffered further defeats on ID Cards last night, as the House of Lords voted to make the scheme voluntary, and to require a further Act of Parliament before ID cards can be made compulsory. ... Last night Lord Bassam of Brighton and Baroness Scotland cut lonely figures arguing - and losing - the Government's case. But along the way they produced some interesting information on the content of the ID card which Government seems, unaccountably, to have been unable to share with us previously.
2001-05-21 - The Register - Labour pledges on Net pedo problem
Author: Kieren McCarthy
Summary: The Home Secretary Jack Straw has decided to make Internet paedophiles an election issue by announcing government plans for Internet banning orders on people who falsely portray themselves as teenagers. ... Not that this stopped Home Office minister Lord Bassam telling the media in March that no such plans were afoot. Or head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, DCS Keith Akerman, from saying such a move would be "very, very, very difficult to legislate for".
2001-05-09 - OUT-LAW - Home Office wants chatroom child protection law
Summary: The UK Home Office is considering a new law that would make it a criminal offence for someone to pose as a teenager in internet chatrooms. Its aim is to stop suspected sex offenders from trying to pick up child victims, according to a report by The Independent. The Home Office told OUT-LAW.COM that a Parliamentary Question will be answered today on setting up an Internet Task Force to be chaired by Home Office minister Lord Bassam with membership from the internet industry and child protection groups. The Task Force is expected to draft the new "Anti-Grooming Order".
2001-03-21 - OUT-LAW - Call for UK industry to make chatrooms safe for children
Summary: The UK Government yesterday called for the internet industry to improve child safety in internet chatrooms, to "make UK cyberspace the safest place in the world for our on-line generation." Following publication of a report by the Internet Crime Forum (ICF), "Chat Wise Street Wise - Children & Internet Chat Services," Home Office Minister Lord Bassam announced a meeting of internet industry representatives, child welfare organisations and the police to take forward the report's recommendations.
2000-12-05 - The Register - Big Brother awards rock the LSE
Summary: The great and the good when it comes to privacy invasion were honoured last night at the London School of Economics in the third annual Big Brother Awards. ... Runner up for Worst Public Servant for worst public servant was Lord Bassam but the award went to Xavier Solana, Sec-Gen of council of European Union.
2000-07-14 - Computing - Advisory board to monitor RIP enforcement
Author: Ian Lynch
Summary: The House of Lords last night voted to allow ISPs to appeal to a technical advisory board if they felt the government was making unreasonable technical demands on them to enforce its so-called snooping bill. ... Lord Bassam, speaking for the government, said that there is not united industry support for such a board, saying that companies such as BT, Vodafone, NTL and Cable & Wireless felt it unnecessary.
2000-07-14 - Computing - UK snooping bill key amendment defeated
Author: Ian Lynch
Summary: An amendment to the so-called snooping bill requiring the Home Secretary to sign all warrants requesting decryption codes was defeated by just one vote in the House of Lords yesterday. ... Speaking for the government, Lord Bassam said the proposed amendment went too far and could impede criminal investigations. He introduced an alternative amendment, which was adopted, that would require a chief constable, or equivalent rank in other government agencies, to authorise orders that code keys be handed over. Previously the level had been set at superintendent. Lord Bassam also said that an amendment requiring an independent commissioner be informed of demands for copies of code keys would be added to the Bill when it receives its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday, 19 July.
2000-06-29 - Computing - Lords object to 'snooping' bill
Summary: Opposition to the UK Government's so-called snooping bill is growing among members of the House of Lords. ... On Monday night, Labour peer Lord Bassam conceded that the Bill's definition of communications data needed to be redefined. "It is becoming clear that the current definition is not adequate and is raising several concerns because it could be interpreted far more widely than the Government intends," he said.
2000-06-22 - Computing - Government 'in retreat' over RIP Bill
Author: Joe Devo
Summary: The government has conceded that it needs to redefine part of its Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill to check charges that authorities will be able to track web pages visited by internet users. ... "It is becoming clear that the current definition is not adequate," said government minister, Lord Bassam. "It is raising severe concerns because it could be interpreted far more widely than the government intends."
2000-06-14 - Computing - Peers move to ease RIP cost fears
Author: Ian Lynch
Summary: The House of Lords last night moved to calm fears among internet service providers that they would bear the brunt of the cost of implementing the so-called snooping bill. ... During the Lords debate last night, government minister Lord Bassam again insisted that the total cost of the black boxes would come to no more than £20m over the next three years. He also said the situation would be reviewed in April 2004. ... Lord Bassam's assurance that the government would put aside £20m to help pay for the black boxes failed to convince peers. The amendment was then passed ensuring that a "fair" share of the costs were met by the government.
2000-06-14 - Computing - RIP Bill will "cost UK economy £46 billion"
Author: Joe Devo
Summary: The government has been warned that it risks costing the UK economy £46 billion over the next five years unless it makes substantial changes to its Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill. ... The government has no intention of withdrawing the legislation. Labour peer Lord Bassam, speaking in the House of Lords RIP Bill debate this week, said ministers will "not be deflected from our course", despite opposition criticism. Tory peer Lord Cope of Berkeley said that when the Bill went through the Commons it was seen as of serious concern only to the ecommunity, but that now "opposition had become much wider".
2000-06-14 - OUT-LAW - Lords question controversy over surveillance bill
Summary: The House of Lords this week acknowledged the widespread criticism of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill. ... However, Lord Bassam replied that, "the public debate has revealed some very serious misunderstandings about the Bill." He described these as ill-judged or misconceived. He continued, "we shall not be deflected from our course; nor shall we withdraw the Bill, as suggested in some of the wilder public comments. None of our industry contacts asks us to withdraw the Bill. They ask for it to be amended in many and various respects. We shall see what we can do in that regard."
2000-06-06 - Computing - Concern over RIP Bill continues to rise
Author: Joe Devo and Steve Ranger
Summary: UK government changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill have done little to placate opposition to the legislation. ... "We said we would take reasonable criticisms on board as far as we could do so, and engage actively with industry," said Home Office minister Lord Bassam of Brighton. He said the rule would be "plain text first - extra tests if keys are required".