Lord Lucas

Lord Lucas (Conservative) Peer. Ralph Matthew Palmer. Describes himself as a libertarian. Runs an e-commerce business and can program. His degree was in physics. Member of the All Party Internet Group. Has operated his personal blog since 2006.

9 February 2005

I know that many of my noble friends may not be as comfortable with the Internet as I am, but come on, jump in, welcome to the world.

Commented on his blog Why do environmental pressure groups lie? 2006

I particularly dislike causes I support resorting to lies to support their arguments - it damages them so much in the long term.


Online Safety Bill

During the Second Reading (November 2012) of the Online Safety Bill, Lord Lucas declared his sympathy for the dangers that face children on the internet, but suggested that this issue needed to be looked at in proportion. He suggested that 'we should do something to make it easy for parents to install, and make use of, internet-blocking or filtering software, which gives them at least some level of security and control over what happens to their children.' He also suggested that ISP's should not have to determine what constitutes dangerous material, as they are not institutionally ready to do so. 'Fundamentally, in a free country, these things should be dealt with by parental choice and not by imposition through an ISP.'[1]

House of Lords debate Identity Cards Bill 23 November 2005

I share the concerns of both noble Lords who have spoken, but I think that we are looking at this in the wrong way. I rather feel as though we are trying to stop the Thames by standing in the middle of it. The fact is that DNA data will be, if not directly part of this database, linked to it. The police will have an extensive range of DNA data. In a few years' time—I think that three years is the current estimate—when we are able to take and analyse DNA samples on a while-you-wait basis, DNA analysis will start to become part of everyday medicine so that we know to which diseases we are liable and how we are liable to react to particular drugs. It will become a very important personalising part of medical treatment and, on that basis, our DNA records will become extremely widely available.
With facial biometrics on the ID card, combined with high-quality cameras all over the country, we will be able to tell exactly who is where in which street at any part of the day. We are getting ourselves—for the very best of reasons—into a surveillance society where potentially the Government will know exactly what each of us is doing at any time. If we combine that with the information which will be available from commercial databases and therefore accessible by the Government based on RFID technology as that comes in, we will be absolutely pinned down whenever the Government reach the point of wanting to know what we are up to.
Rather than try to pretend that we can stop the march of technology, we should be looking at an equivalent of the Data Protection Registrar. We should be looking at a body which can operate on principles rather than detailed legislation, which can say where our rights to privacy and personal information really begin and end, and which, on that sort of basis, can control what the Government and other people do with it. To imagine that we can stop technological progress in this way is illusory. We should not think that gives us any safety, given the time scales we are talking about for identity cards in this Bill.

Identity cards

Does not approve of the current ID Card Bill.

House of Lords debate Identity Cards Bill 23 November 2005

On a different issue, how does this subsection tie in with subsection (5)(h)? Suppose we are living in a world where the identity card is well used and supports a lot of commercial transactions. Suppose that I attend a Conservative Party conference and that fact gets into the register under subsection (5)(h) because my identity is checked at the door; then my political allegiance is on file. Suppose I visit a VD clinic and it similarly wants my identity as I go in. Suppose I am a Muslim and I buy something from a vintner. That again seems to be sensitive personal information. How are we going to exclude that kind of sensitive personal information from the register in any practical way?

House of Lords debate Identity Cards Bill 15 November 2005

The noble Baroness is comparing the total benefits of owning a car with the cost of the petrol. You have to include capital costs, particularly of electronic equipment. The rough annual cost of electronic equipment is about 30 per cent of its capital value in replacement, refurbishment and necessary improvements. Unless we have a clue what the capital cost is, neither we nor the Government can have an idea of whether it is worthwhile.

House of Lords debate Identity Cards Bill 15 November 2005

What interests me about the noble Baroness's intervention is what benefits these people were told would come with the card. Her colleague has produced a most fantastical list of benefits that have nothing whatever to do with the identity card—or if they do, perhaps the Minister will tell us how.

House of Lords debate [2] 15 November 2005

I am in favour of identity cards and I know what benefits I would like them to have. However, I am very unclear that the system we are being sold by the Government offers these benefits. It seems to me to be far too centralised, cumbersome and complicated to offer them in practice. That is why I am interested to hear much more from the Government on how they see the scheme working.
Perhaps I may pick up a comment made by my noble friend Lord Crickhowell. The system fundamentally cannot be secure because the security services need it to be insecure. They will need to hide identities to protect witnesses and to infiltrate people into al-Qaeda. The system will have to have built into it a way in which it can be subverted. If that is the case, there will always be the possibility of someone getting at it.

Computer Misuse Act Reform

Spoke in favour of the Earl of Northesk's Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, this bill unfortunately ran out of time as frequently happens with private members bills.

House of Lords debate Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 20 June 2002

My Lords, I like this Bill. I like the fact that it is drafted in a reasonably wide way, which means that the concept will not go out of date too quickly. The hackers and those who seek to disrupt the Internet move at an ever-increasing pace and it is ever more difficult to keep in touch with their ingenuity.
Denial-of-service attacks are a real pain if you are trying to operate a computer system. There is no defence against them once someone has found a way to operate them, because they are coming in down legitimate avenues by the time they reach you. They use faults in other people's computer systems just to flood yours out. It is rather like a flood. It is like suddenly waking up in the morning and finding that you are six feet under water; and it takes just as long to get rid of the problem—it takes a long time for the enormous queue to drain away, and all kinds of people have to be involved in cleaning up afterwards. You lose business while you are flooded, and it costs you a great deal to set matters right. By any standards, it is an attack; and, by any standards, you have suffered damage. Therefore, in principle, like other forms of attack, denial-of-service attacks ought to be considered a crime.
There are, of course, occasions when people wish to do things that are on the edge of crime. As an act of civil disobedience, you might want to go down the street making holes in people's motor cars. By and large, the question of whether an individual has committed a crime or has acted reasonably in a particular set of circumstances ought to be left to the courts. But, in principle, doing things that harm people in a significant way ought to be a crime.
I therefore strongly support the thrust of the Bill. I have a few arguments with the detailed drafting. I should like to consider, for instance, how the phrasing would apply to people who created or used the system that holds the 1901 census. It could be said that those who had put that system together had done so in a way that caused it to crash and caused it to fall apart under use. It could be said that those who might be judged to have used it too enthusiastically, when they should have known that it was delicate, caused it to crash. We are perhaps going a little too far in terms of the precise in not allowing a word like "substantial" to be included in the concept before a crime is considered to have been committed, and a little too far in Clause 1(2)(2) as regards the guilt of someone who does not know that he is doing something illegal and the idea that he is guilty of an offence if someone could have anticipated the effect of his action. There is perhaps sometimes too much power in hindsight. One should not put ordinary people and ordinarily incompetent computer technicians at risk of committing a crime merely because they design or do something which in the end causes computer systems to crash. On the other hand, perhaps we could put Mr Gates in gaol for a long time, given the number of times that my system goes down every day due to the bugs that he has built into his system. But, sadly, that is a case of someone who is not a British citizen and it is not yet a realistic hope.
Given a "warm wind" from the Government, and with some attention to how we actually make this a usable piece of legislation, it would be a very good piece of legislation to have in place, pending the Europeans coming up with proposals to which we can all agree as a continent. This is one of those cases where individual Acts are important. There is no reason to wait for others. It will not cost us anything to make this a crime in our country. It will make Britain a slightly more attractive place to do business if it is known that we have some rules against domestic attacks against companies in this way. It is one brick in what eventually may become an effective dam. At least it shows the way constructively and gives some impetus to doing something that the civilised world will eventually have to get around to.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

House of Lords debate Security and Liberty 26 March 2003

We also need to consider the effectiveness of what we are proposing. Many noble Lords may remember the Government's proposals on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill and how they were going to control the flow of information over the Internet. It took a long while to persuade the Government to back off that and to consider the practicalities. They are now doing so. One of the great contributions of this House to legislation is that, two or three years after the passage of that Bill, the substantive measures are still not in place because the Government are at last considering the practicalities.

Lord Lucas was outspoken in his criticism and exposes government confusion 30 March 2001

"Another dimension to the problem arises in the case of Internet Service Providers. Last year we passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. It, too, included a reversal of proof provision that we managed to get struck out. Under the Act it is a criminal offence for an Internet Service Provider to know what is in the e-mails that go through its wires. The Government are now seeking to make it a criminal offence not to know what is going through its wires. The ISPs will be caught coming and caught going. I do not see why it is necessary to catch them in that way with a reversed burden of proof when we have already made it impossible for them legally to know what is going through."

He continued

"Under any practical circumstances, the ISP has been told what is happening. The ISP should be attacked only when he knows what is happening and does nothing about it. Again, there is no reason to reverse the burden of proof."

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

Nobody keeps his private key in his head or anywhere. It is a long succession of digits or symbols, 128 of them, and they are not memorable. They are protected with a pass phrase. So people will carry around their digital signature in their head as a pass phrase. But, as the Bill is written at the moment, that pass phrase can be demanded and received by the police, even though it only protects one's digital signature to which the police have no right. As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said, Caspar Bowden has spotted a technical but important error which should be put right, if not by this amendment then by something similar.

Later on in the same debate Lord Lucas stated that RIP permits GCHQ trawling of domestic Internet

... It is absolutely obvious what is in the Bill--at least it is to me--and that is, yes, trawling becomes legal. The Home Secretary has to renew the warrant every three months, but he can trawl on grounds of economic well-being and serious crime, as well as terrorism, to any extent that he wishes.

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

It is absolutely obvious what is in the Bill--at least it is to me--and that is, yes, trawling becomes legal. The Home Secretary has to renew the warrant every three months, but he can trawl on grounds of economic well-being and serious crime, as well as terrorism, to any extent that he wishes.
I do not think that this particular Home Secretary is going to go after a police state in a big way, but we can be certain that we are going to go after the people who start the riots in the City and the football hooligans. That is exactly what the clause permits. It is absolutely obvious that the economic well-being of the UK is affected by both groups. We have lost the ability to stage a major football tournament because of football hooliganism, and the economic well-being of the UK is affected. The reputation of the City suffers from these annual riots, and the economic well-being of the UK is affected. Under those conditions the Secretary of State can go trawling for any group of people that he chooses as long as such a group is reasonably rationally coherent--and certainly the people indulging in both those activities must come under that category. Under this Bill we have the ability to trawl in any way at all as long as it is referable to that kind of thing.

Data Retention

House of Lords debate Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 4 December 2001

Most communications data have nothing whatever to do with billing. Almost all the communications data concerned with Internet transactions have nothing to do with billing because billing is done simply on, as it were, a leasing-of-a-facility basis. Therefore, I hope that the Minister does not believe that he needs that data because the billing data are sufficient. He is talking about a vast amount of data. Several new computers a day will be required for the length of time that the noble Lord wants to hold such data if he is to access the entire amount. It is very important that the Government know what they want and restrict their demands to what they want and what they can use rather than to the vast amounts of data which are there.

House of Lords debate Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 4 December 2001

The code of practice will apply to something like 100,000 networks throughout the United Kingdom. It will apply to me because I run a little network of three or four computers. The code had jolly well better be a public document. It would be a bit daffy if the Government tried to keep secret something with a circulation that wide. All sorts of people will have to know about the code. The Government should determine that the code will be made public and leave out anything confidential. We shall all need to know about the code, understand what might be required of us and potentially live within it. The notion that the code might under certain circumstances be kept secret is mildly ridiculous.

House of Lords debate [3] 4 December 2001

I entirely support what has been said. Perhaps the Minister can enlarge on the rights under the Data Protection Act for an individual to obtain such data that is to be retained. Considering some of the wilder possibilities, in relation to packet headers there will be vast amounts of data. It will be extremely difficult for a communications provider who is asked to dig out anything that is relevant from their records to do so without incurring a great deal of time and expense.
Recently it has been established that the data that a mobile phone provider holds of a location from which and to which mobile phone calls are made is personal data and can be retrieved by someone under the Data Protection Act. Therefore, I presume that all such communications data will also fall under that heading. We are not considering imposing an occasional burden on the telecommunications provider to look for something for the Government, but a burden to have to do so for every single customer or citizen of this country, or anywhere else, who happens to cause a little disruption by asking for the information. We have to understand how enormous this data supply is and how undirected it is.
Some of my e-mails go through a mailbox. The information in an e-mail can be picked up as easily as someone can look at my telephone bill, although much of it does not touch the sides and is transmitted as packets. Information is squirted into the Internet and arrives at the other end through whatever routes it may happen to take. There may be no record of it other than the packet headers, which, as has been said, is about a terabyte a day or the contents of a DVD every second. Those enormous amounts of data are impossible to search unless they are on line. If so much information is available about the individual citizen, it comes down to 1984.
We must understand the Government's intentions in relation to particular kinds of data. They must have a clue as to what type of data they are considering retaining and for how long. The retention of some data has immense cost implications, nationally and indeed on individual telecommunications providers. One wonders why the Government will need it. If a terrorist organises himself properly, he will not appear. He will hide or cloak himself and he will not appear in any of the easy places. It will be immensely difficult to track him down.
The only people against whom such data will be useful will be the ordinary, everyday criminals who do not know how to take the #1,000 or #2,000 worth of precautions that would enable them to avoid the Act. The Government must be clearer about why they want these provisions.


House of Lords debate Identity Cards Bill 23 November 2005

When I want to deal with junk mail, spam or whatever else and find out where it is coming from, I employ about 15 names to try to track down who has been spreading my details around without my permission.

House of Lords debate Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill 28 March 2001

I agree that when we know someone is sending out Spam e-mails about advertising tobacco products we should be able to make the ISPs do their very best to stop those going through. That is entirely reasonable. But if you are notifying an ISP that something is happening, but he does not do it and you prosecute him, then he knows. The first thing that happens is that he is told officially that there is a tobacco advertisement coming down the wires and that he must stop it. A reverse burden of proof is not needed because it has no function. Under any practical circumstances, the ISP has been told what is happening. The ISP should be attacked only when he knows what is happening and does nothing about it. Again, there is no reason to reverse the burden of proof.

House of Lords debate Electronic Communications Bill 22 February 2000

In Committee we shall be able to discuss the Government's attitude to Spam. Laws in California seem to have made a reasonable start in dealing with that plague. I should like to discuss whether the Government are prepared to consider going down that route in the UK.

DNA database

House of Lords debate Criminal Justice Bill 17 July 2003

DNA can provide absolute proof of innocence but it cannot provide proof of guilt. That is the case, first, because matching is not exact. A piece of DNA is cut into chunks with enzymes and we see how it comes out on a gel. We are not dealing with a complete sequence. So we are dealing with probabilities which are only in the millions and not in the thousands of millions. If we take the world as whole, it seems likely that quite a few people will have identical DNA.
DNA is also contained in many parts that we leave behind us in our passage through life, so it is easy—unlike a fingerprint—for it to turn up in places which might be inconvenient when it comes to an explanation. It may be very compelling evidence—and I understand that it is compelling evidence—but we cannot know that a man is guilty just on the basis that his DNA has been found at the scene until we have tried him. I was very disturbed that the noble and learned Lord, who understands a great deal, did not understand that.

House of Lords debate Security and Liberty 26 March 2003

DNA is useful in the way that it is used at present. However, if it is used universally, then one will begin to encounter problems with it. Some people have two DNA structures. If a person has a blood transfusion, he will have two kinds of DNA within him. If a drop of blood is spilt from a thief who has just had a blood transfusion, whose blood will it be? If someone has received a bone marrow transplant, which kind of DNA will appear at the scene of a crime? Once DNA becomes universal, we must ask whether it is sufficiently accurate to distinguish perfectly between all 50 million of us. No, it is not. There is an error factor which means that, if DNA is used universally, problems will be encountered. If its usage becomes common, then, whatever detection system we use, people will find ways of giving the wrong DNA at the crucial time.

House of Lords debate Criminal Justice and Police Bill 8 May 2001

...Being on the database puts one in a position that is akin to mislaying a hair sample in the days of witchcraft. One puts oneself enormously in everyone else's power. If a person is known to be on the DNA database, all that one needs to do is to pick up one of his hairs and place it at the scene of a crime. That would be evidence that he was there and it would be extremely difficult for him to disprove that evidence...


House of Lords debate Security and Liberty 26 March 2003

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Greenfield, for reminding us what a horrific world it would be if everyone knew everything about us, including what we were doing and where we were going. Privacy is a terribly important part of being human, from the first time we tell a fib to our parents about what we have been doing or where we are going to the ordinary business of running our everyday lives. It is absolutely essential that a large part of our lives should be our own and not belong to or be open to other people.

WHOIS Database

Written question WHOIS Database 15 May 2002

Whether they support the principle that the WHOIS database of web domain owners should be open to access by the general public; and, if so, what representations they have made, and to whom, with a view to it remaining so.


House of Lords debate Electronic Communications Bill 22 February 2000

I hope very much that the Minister will bring us up to date on where we are with European legislation which will have an impact in this area. In particular, I should like to end up in a situation where if I, as a UK businessman, decide that my contracts with third parties all over the world shall be governed by English law that will be respected by the EU when it comes to judge whether or not I have broken those contracts. At the moment, it appears that the EU seeks to make me subject to the legislation of 15 different countries. Perhaps in some senses the Financial Services and Markets Bill takes the same attitude; namely, it seeks to impose UK legislation on a lot of foreign transactions. I should be grateful to hear a statement of principle from the Government so that we have an idea of where we may be going.


House of Lords debate Electronic Communications Bill 22 February 2000

The prime sinner is, as ever, British Telecom. For years it delayed pricing ISDN properly. The service was so expensive that it was out of the reach of people. BT brought it down to a proper commercial price only when the service had scarcely any advantage over ordinary modems. Not surprisingly, it has not been able to do much with it. Now BT is entrusted with the introduction of a crucial piece of new technology: ASDL (asynchronous subscriber digital lines). I do not know whether many noble Lords have seen the speed of Internet access that is available through the new Library terminals. Pages flick across the screen so fast that one scarcely sees a change. When one tries to dial in over the old network one must wait 15 or 20 seconds before the next page chugs along. ASDL is about 20 times faster than the ordinary dial-up access and will make an enormous difference to how the web is used.
ASDL is the equivalent of mobile telephony for the web in terms of usefulness. People will be prepared to pay the kind of price that the French are being asked to pay for ASDL access, which is about £250 a year. BT proposes a figure of about £1,000 a year. That is not right. This is a crucial development, and if the UK is to remain the centre of innovation in e-commerce we must get it right.
The only matter I wish to pursue in Part III relates to social exclusion and ASDL. If we do not do something about telecommunications licences there is a strong chance that people in the countryside more than three miles from a main exchange will be excluded from the ASDL network. It is not technically possible to run an ASDL line more than three miles from an exchange. However, the mobile telecommunications companies have masts all over the countryside. Few homes are not within three miles of a telecommunications mast. As part of the permission by the community to have those masts in the area, there should be some obligation on the owners of the masts to provide ASDL connections from those masts to local houses. I do not seek to put that provision in the Bill, but I should like to discuss the issue. I can see no other way in which ASDL will be brought effectively into the countryside.

Electronic Signatures

House of Lords debate Electronic Communications Bill 22 February 2000

I look forward to considering in Committee whether they can be settled by negative procedure. In the passage of those regulations we shall find it difficult to know the circumstances in which an electronic signature is valid and when it is not. I wish to pursue with the Government the concept of an individual or a business stating that he or it will accept an electronic signature in all circumstances when legislation or other custom would require a written signature, thereby bypassing the slow, difficult-to-discern passage of legislation. For instance, Westminster City Council might say, "We will accept all notices required to be given to us in electronic form with an electronic signature. We do not have to wait for the Government to pass all the necessary legislation to make that a consumer right." In other words, until the Government pass such legislation, I would not have the right to serve those notices by e-mail, but an individual council might make it possible for me to do so. It would wish to be certain that everything was made valid by electronic signature.
I wish also to pursue proof of delivery. I have not seen the issue discussed anywhere. It is a difficult concept as regards e-mail. I do not know how the Government imagine that that concept will be tackled. I am concerned about the "believability" of signatures. I should like to pursue in some detail in Committee the precise way in which we are to understand that an electronic signature represents a person. If I am buying a house from a person, I know through a chain of people that that person exists. I have talked to my solicitor who has talked to another solicitor. Solicitors know and trust each; and there is a client at the other end. Even if I have never met the person there is reason for me to believe that his signature on a piece of paper has reality. How do I achieve a similar state of belief with an electronic signature? I may not be able to make the same connection through to the person making the signature.

Internet Crime

House of Lords debate Internet Fraud 8 July 2004

Why the police do not investigate attempted fraud over the Internet.

He continued

My Lords, I hope that I am not alone in finding that an extremely woolly and unsatisfactory Answer. Is the noble Lord aware of what it feels like to be told that, effectively, part of the place where one works and lives is off limits to the police—that one can see a crime being committed but the police do not express the slightest interest in investigating it, locally, nationally or through the department? What does he think that that does for one's impression of the Internet as a place to do business, and of the police as people who should keep law and order in this country? Such simple things could be done by the police to make matters better, if only they would get off their bottoms and do them.

Freedom of Information

Against the attempts made to change the Freedom of Information Bill to exclude MPs.

A private member's bill, the Freedom of Information Bill was introduced by Lord Lucas and received a second reading in February 1999, although the Bill failed to reached the Statute Book it helped to persuade the Government to enact their own Bill in fulfilment of their election promises.

[4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]


Lord Lucas recently suggested an amendment to Clause 65 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which supports the transfer of the right to use a copyright to another legal person. The amendment, withdrawn on the 16th of Jan[1], reads:

  • 28A Insert the following new Clause:
    • “Ownership of licences to copyright
      • Any natural person who acquires, for value and for his personal use only, the right to use a copyright may, for value or otherwise, transfer that right to any other person.
      • Any terms in any contract that purport to forbid, place restrictions on or require payment for a transfer under subsection (1) shall be null and void.
      • Any person who in any way controls the use of a copyright must do all things necessary, without undue delay and without recompense, to effect a transfer under subsection (1) above.”
  • 28B Insert the following new Clause:
    • “Fair use
      • A person in legal possession of a licence to use or enjoy copyright material may freely make copies of that material for the purposes of—
        • backup;
        • the enjoyment of the copyright material in alternative media to the one for which the copyright was licenced.
      • A person may not, without express permission, make a copy made under subsection (1) above available to any other person.”



2007-05-21 - Lord Lucas Blog - Freedom of Information Amendment Bill
Author: Lord Lucas
Summary: Greeted with a hum of discontent from all round the house when it was introduced this afternoon. There's a good chance that timetables and end-of-year congestion will mean that it fails to complete it's passage here, and dies. If it does get through, I'm certain that we'll excise the reference to the Lords.
2007-05-20 - Lord Lucas Blog - Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill
Author: Lord Lucas
Summary: So we are going to have to deal with this Bill. I had hoped that the Commons would kill it -- but it clearly has widespread support there. It seems to me to be corrupt, in the finest sense of that word. For someone to protect themselves from the effect of general legislation merely because they have the power to do so, and to neglect to address the interests of others, seems to me to be profoundly wrong. It is just the sort of behaviour which we have become used to criticising in the European Parliament, and it pains me to see it appearing here. I cannot see that any attempt was made in the House of Commons to defend what was being done -- they just sat there while their opponents tried to play for time. A measure like this surely needs details justification, and at least our procedures in the Lords will make sure that it requires that to pass.. At the very least, however much we pay respect to the House of Commons, we should insist on the removal of the House of Lords from this legislation.
2007-02-25 - Lord Lucas Blog - Goodbye cruel Word
Author: Lord Lucas
Summary: At last I've done it, and it feels wonderful. I've been a faithful Word user since the program first appeared, but I've finally lost patience with Microsoft's FUser attitudes. I don't own, and I can't get, a single disk that installs Office - just upgrade on upgrade on upgrade. And when my machine died, and I tried to reinstall on the new one, some element in the trail was missing. So I've downloaded Open Office, and with luck will never buy Microsoft again.
2007-02-08 - Lord Lucas Blog - Data protection
Author: Lord Lucas
Summary: If the home office is so deficient, why don't they get on with getting it right rather than flooding us with new legislation? Yesterday's edition was the latest serious crimes Bill, which (other than allowing the courts to lock people up who they think might create a crime) allows government departments have free access to all the data that government holds on citizens, and allows the Audit Commission (why the Audit Commission?) to trawl through government data and data obtained from outside sources (such as credit card companies, banks etc) in search of criminal patterns of behaviour. We seen to be totally unconcerned as a nation about this invasion of our privacy -- believing that it will only affect other people. We should learn a lesson from what has happened to motorists -- it isn't the Mr Bigs that get done in, indeed if you have over a hundred outstanding fines they don't bother to pursue you because they reckon they let you know how to avoid pursuit. It's the ordinary motorist who gets done at the slightest excuse, and all our lives are made that little bit more miserable. I don't believe that we shall be able to make any serious changes to this Bill, my party are too concerned about the public mood, and though the Lib Dems shout imprecations at the government at a local level they want the surveillance the same as everybody else. What I hope to do, though, is to make sure that we have a fully documented record of all the surveillance that is taking place, so that we might at some stage be able to take a long look at what is happening and feel so sick and that we do something about it. Not that these powers couldn't be used well -- but in the hands of the Home Office ...
2006-12-07 - Lord Lucas Blog - Total disclosure of personal data held by government
Author: Lord Lucas
Summary: ... So, the unsatisfactory aspect is that everything the government knows about your may become public property if you don't pay your judgement debts. As I have said before, I don't see any useful way of standing in front of this tsunami. It is no good trying to put in clauses to stop government departments passing on information to each other, or to restrict the gathering of that information -- that I'll always good reasons why it should be done. We have to develop ways of protecting the citizens rights on the assumption that the government will know everything about them, and will communicate this information when it suits them.
2001-03-30 - The Register - New Bill labels ISPs as publishers
Author: Kieren McCarthy
Summary: A government bill currently in the House of Lords labels ISPs as publishers, in an apparent attempt to bypass their undecided legal status and enforce new tobacco advertising rules. ... Lord Lucas was outspoken in his criticism and exposes government confusion: "Another dimension to the problem arises in the case of Internet Service Providers. Last year we passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. It, too, included a reversal of proof provision that we managed to get struck out. Under the Act it is a criminal offence for an Internet Service Provider to know what is in the e-mails that go through its wires. The Government are now seeking to make it a criminal offence not to know what is going through its wires. The ISPs will be caught coming and caught going. I do not see why it is necessary to catch them in that way with a reversed burden of proof when we have already made it impossible for them legally to know what is going through." He continued: "Under any practical circumstances, the ISP has been told what is happening. The ISP should be attacked only when he knows what is happening and does nothing about it. Again, there is no reason to reverse the burden of proof."
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. At a meeting with IT industry representatives in London, peers from across the House said that mounting criticism of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill was such that it could be radically altered, or perhaps even defeated, when the Lords vote later this summer. ... Armed with a viable alternative that has support outside of the House, Lords Cope, Phillips and Lucas said there was the potential to gain cross-party support and make significant amendments to the "worst" areas of the Bill.
2000-06-12 - BBC - Criticism of net snooping bill grows
Author: Mark Ward
Summary: UK Government plans to give police the power to watch what you do on the web are facing an increasing chorus of criticism. ... During the last House of Lords debate on the Bill in late May, Lord Lucas said peers should not be afraid to destroy the Bill if it cannot be made acceptable. "We will help the government get a good Bill on the statute book but we're not going to accept a pig in a poke like this," said Lord McNally. Peers are critical of the RIP Bill on several grounds.


This page was last edited on 19 May 2016, at 09:40.

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