Jeremy Hunt on #ipbill

I wrote to my MP, who happens to be the Health Secretary but you can write to your constituency MP about anything, best way to do it is through https://www.writetothem.com/. I tend to write about one specific actionable point, even if it isn’t the biggest issue on the subject. This time the subject was the return of the snoopers charter, the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Dear Jeremy Hunt,

I am concerned about the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

"Section 51 Whilst everyone has a right to privacy, certain professions handle particularly sensitive or confidential information, which may attract additional protections. These professions include medical doctors, lawyers, journalists, Members of Parliament and the devolved legislatures, and Ministers of Religion."

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong. Ministers of Religion should not have a privileged status here, Abu Hamza, Anjem Chowdry, other radical clerics and the paedophile priests of all denominations do not deserve more hurdles protecting their privacy than I do.

Please work with your colleagues to remove Ministers of Religion from the list of sensitive professions.

I can't say I am a fan of the bill overall, it seems rather naïve about the nature of encryption.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Bell

and he wrote back, completely and utterly failing to address my point.

Dear Mr Bell

Thank you for contacting me about encryption.

The Government recognises the importance of encryption. I agree it is vital in keeping people's personal data and intellectual property secure and ensuring safe online commerce and communication. Current law requires that companies must be able to provide targeted access, subject to warrant, to the communications of those who seek to commit crimes or do serious harm in the UK or to its citizens.

It is true that the growing use of encryption does present a significant challenge. However the Government does not advocate or require the provision of a back-door key or support arbitrarily weakening the security of internet applications and services in such a way. Such tools threaten the integrity of the internet itself. The current legislation already requires that companies providing services to UK customers must be able to comply with a warrant and I am assured that the Government intends to preserve that position.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which will be subject to scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, will not introduce any new powers relating to encryption.

Best wishes

Jeremy Hunt
--------------------------------------------
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Member of Parliament for South West Surrey

Well, that was quite unsatisfactory, so I wrote back.

thanks for replying, but it seems you didn’t address my specific and actionable point.
Section 51 of the draft investigatory powers bill gives radical clerics more protection over their privacy than I have for mine. Why is this? Why does the bill privilege radical clerics and other ministers of religion above anyone else? Can you please press for the removal of the privileged status of ministers of religion under this bill.
"Section 51 Whilst everyone has a right to privacy, certain professions handle particularly sensitive or confidential information, which may attract additional protections. These professions include medical doctors, lawyers, journalists, Members of Parliament and the devolved legislatures, and Ministers of Religion."
Alan Bell.

turns out if you are persistent you get results, this time it seems he read the mail.

Dear Mr Bell
Thank you for your further email. As you have mentioned, Section 51 includes Ministers of Religion as a profession that may attract additional protections as such people do tend to handle particularly sensitive or confidential information. Let me assure you that there are many measures in place to make sure extremist preachers cannot spread their message of hate. The new Counter-Extremism Strategy is a clear signal of the choice to take on the poisonous ideology of extremism with resolve, determination and the goal of a building a greater Britain. The strategy follows the 4 key pillars set out by the Prime Minister last July: to counter extremist ideology; to support mainstream voices, especially in our faith communities and in civil society; to disrupt extremists, aggressively pursuing key radicalisers; and to build more cohesive communities, tackling segregation and feelings of alienation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Best wishes
Jeremy Hunt
 — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — 
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Member of Parliament for South West Surrey

so, second part of that is a bit of a brush off, but I think the point got through. Radical preachers are on the same level as politicians, journalists, doctors and lawyers under this bill, so either the protections for all of these are meaningless, or the bill really misses the very people it is allegedly aimed at.

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