Liberal Democrats

F8: Safe and Free

Federal Policy Committee

Conference recognises the substantial threats posed to the UK and its citizens from terrorism and violent extremism, and the important work done by the police and security services in fighting against them.

Conference notes legislation proposed by the current Government, including the Investigatory Powers Bill and the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill and rejects the idea that indiscriminate monitoring or limiting of legal free speech enhances security.

Conference calls instead for a liberal and effective approach to security policy that is accountable, community- and evidence-based, and not technology-dependent.

Conference believes that:

  1. In the modern world, many threats are complex, multi-national, and wide-ranging, and we need to ensure our national security framework is capable of addressing these them.
  2. Effective national security policy must combine the fundamental values of liberty and security.
  3. Community involvement is key to combating violent extremism, but that there is a fundamental, fatally damaging lack of trust in the current Prevent strategy.
  4. A system of bulk or mass surveillance is neither effective nor proportional, and that our right to privacy is damaged by the collection, storing, and filtering of material - even if there is no human involvement.

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 123, Safe and Free, as a statement of Liberal Democrat policy on the interaction between liberty and security, and especially on online surveillance and community engagement with security matters, and particularly welcomes its proposals to:

    1. Scrap the Prevent Strategy, and replace it with 'Engage' - an inclusive community engagement strategy that would contribute to a more effective security policy by:
      1. Supporting communities to lead in developing their own approach to tackling the dangers of violent extremism.
      2. Prioritising community engagement, including putting it at the centre of police operation.
      3. Uniting reporting procedures, so concerns about extremism are handled in the same way as concerns about grooming or abuse.
      4. Challenging extremist views and making the case for an open society
      5. Establishing immediately the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board legislated for in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
    2. Roll back state surveillance powers by:
      1. Ending the bulk collection of communications data by the state.
      2. Ending bulk equipment interference (or hacking).
      3. Opposing the bulk collection of Internet Connection Records.
      4. Opposing any attempts to systematically undermine encryption.
    3. Recognise that legitimate investigation of criminal activity to keep us safe may sometimes require the collection of information about individuals who have not yet been identified; this may require, in exceptional circumstances, the large-scale interception of information between the UK and certain overseas 'national security hotspot' areas only, when certain conditions are met, including:
      1. The request must be issued only by an intelligence agency, and must specify the national security requirements underpinning the warrant.
      2. All other possible mechanisms for collecting the data have been exhausted.
      3. The warrant must be limited in scope to the smallest practicable geographical area.
      4. The warrant must be limited to 6 months.
      5. The request has been approved by a judge.
      6. All possible steps must be taken to avoid collecting the data of UK-based individuals who are not in contact with suspects in the area to which the warrant applies.
      7. Any data that is not relevant to the investigations must be deleted within 30 days.
    4. Only support the routine retention by Communications Service Providers (such as internet providers and phone companies) of communications data they require for business purposes for a maximum of 12 months; retention of any other data for targeted surveillance must be approved by a judicial commissioner.
    5. Support the use of powers to surveil and monitor specific individuals who are under suspicion, whilst ensuring effective and appropriate oversight, including:
      1. Judicial commissioner approval of all intrusive surveillance warrants.
      2. Requiring time-limited judicial authorisation for the deployment of undercover officers.
      3. Tightening rules around Terrorism Prevention and Investigatory Measures (TPIMs).
      4. Abolishing the National Extremism Database and ensuring that all police and security services databases are placed on a statutory footing.
      5. Allowing the police or security services to apply for a judicial warrant to retain an individual's web history only when they are under suspicion of serious crime.
    6. Strengthen and simplify surveillance oversight by:
      • Creating a single, independent, public-facing oversight commission that would help to form a distinction between warrant approval in advance and audit after the event.
      • Allowing the oversight commission to launch inquiries into matters of public interest or areas of concern.
      • Giving the Investigatory Powers Tribunal remedial power, including the ability to award punitive damages.
      • Where possible, notifying innocent people who have been placed under targeted surveillance.
    7. Promote technological development in the UK and give people power over their own data by:
      1. Requiring a clear and simple opt-in scheme for data sharing where people can access a service or device even if consent for data collection is withheld.
      2. Introducing annual data notifications where individuals are sent details of the data a company holds on them.
      3. Requiring additional consent for the sharing and sale of anonymised big data, and increasing regulation of pseudonymised data.
      4. Doing further work towards establishing a Digital Bill of Rights in law.

Applicability: Federal.

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