Last month I wrote a letter (republished here) to all the Manchester Gorton Constituency candidates regarding civil liberties and more specifically the recently passed Digital Economy Bill. To date, only Justine Hall of the Green Party has replied, although the Press Officer of the Pirate Party has been in touch offering to have Tim Dobson call me personally (I have asked for a letter).

Here is Justine Hall’s letter:

“Dear Ms McCulloch

Thank you for your email. I am very supportive of the 5 points raised by the Power2010 pledge. I joined the campaign some time ago as an individual and have now signed the pledge as a candidate – currently the only candidate for Gorton who has!

All 5 of the points are Green Party policy and have been for some time. We believe that a written constitution is important for citizens and lawmakers to understand what our rights are, and it would make it more difficult for the government to take rights away from us.

ID cards must be stopped, and the registering of every child in the UK is ID cards by the back door. I cannot believe that MPs children may be ‘shielded’ from this database – the fact they vote for an abhorrent database and protect themselves is truly a mark of how out of touch they are.

I am appalled that the Digital Economy Bill was pushed through at the last minute. Even more appalling was the low number of MPs that actually bothered to turn up to vote. A small ray of sunshine is that the law sems unworkable and looks very unlikely to survive any legal challenge against it, particularly as even the MPs that drafted it got rather confused about what they were asking for, with one convinced that IP meant ‘intellectual property’, not ‘internet protocol’ as it actually does.

Some more information about the Green Party view is here:

MPs MUST be subject to the laws they pass, as every other citizen is. The Green Party will continue to press for any exceptions to be made public and repealed immediately.

A vote for the Green Party is a vote against politics as usual, a vote for transparent politics and against shady lobbyists and MPs self interest.

You can learn more on our website www.greenparty.org.uk/policies.

Justine Hall
Green Party candidate, Manchester Gorton”

Thank you very much to Justine. :)

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Sent to Qassim Afzal, Caroline Healy, Gerald Kaufman, Karen Reisseman and Justine Hall.

Dear candidate,

my name is Sarah McCulloch and I am a constituent of Manchester Gorton, whom you wish to represent in Parliament. I thought I would write to you with my concerns regarding the past few decades of curtailment of civil liberties in this country.

I have been appalled by how so many MPs in the last Parliament seemed to think there should be one rule for them and another for everyone else, especially when it comes to how government treats our personal information. When the government can just lose the personal details of 25 million parents and children from the child benefit database with barely an apology, to send our confidential medical data overseas for transcription, as we have discovered local hospital trusts are doing this week, is utterly absurd.

Though I don’t suppose such privacy violations will happen to any MPs. All our children are now documented on the government’s ContactPoint database, whereas the children of MPs can be “shielded” to protect their privacy and security – outright recognition that the database is available to anyone willing to pay for it.

Similarly, hundreds of MPs voted in favour of ID cards. Very few MPs, however, have chosen to get one themselves, even though they’re now available to those who volunteer. Many of these same MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, all in the name of their “privacy”, whilst passing laws that erode our privacy. Need I mention the Communications Data Bill which would have required ISPs to keep details of every phone call and email made in this country, a dream which was only dropped as unworkable as opposed to GROSSLY intrusive?

This is terrible, and the hypocrisy has to end.

I would therefore ask that you commit to saying that if you are elected you will vote to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006 and will defend my privacy as fiercely as you would defend your own and that of your family.

Should you be elected, your own internet connection is just at risk of disconnection as mine should anyone allege you (or your children) have infringed their copyright to your ISP due to the Digital Economy Act 2010 – this, I have no doubt, is what will lead the the bill’s repeal as MP after MP is disconnected because of such allegations. When we live under the same rules, as my MP, I know you will ensure those rules are actually fair. This is why it is important that you support a fair system across the board by which MPs must abide as well as myself and my fellow voters.

As part of the POWER2010 campaign I have joined a number of local people in writing a joint letter to our local paper with the same message and encourage you to write a response. You can read the letter here: http://www.power2010.org.uk/page/s/outrage

I won’t ask you to sign up to the Power2010 Pledge because I personally think parts of it are stupid – allowing any of the corrupt and self-serving politicians we currently have and are likely to have at the highest levels of our government to lay down in stone in a written constitution what we, and they, are entitled to strikes me as the height of idiocy. However, I would strongly recommend that you at least read it and make up your own minds: http://www.power2010.org.uk/page/s/powerpledge

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah McCulloch

Write to your MP here.

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