Tag Archives: Michael Fabricant MP

The erosion of civil liberties and the legitimacy of Parliament


I’ve moved from angry to depressed. Here’s my letter to my MP, Michael Fabricant, about the Data Rentention and General Bullshit Bill (DRIP);


There’s probably no point in even bothering, given you are highly unlikely to rebel against your party (which, by the way, says something about our “representative democracy”, don’t you think?) but I can’t let this one pass.

After trying it with the slave labour Workfare scheme your party in Government is trying to legalise something that has been found illegal. The new Data Retention & Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) has no legal basis, being as it seeks to legalise an existing practice that has already been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice.

Not only that but the way in which this bill has been concocted and is being pushed through questions the very legitimacy of Parliament itself.

It is a fundamental principle of our parliamentary democracy that bills are presented to the House of Commons and scrutinised in depth by our elected representatives. We put faith in you do to this. No such process is taking place with this bill, which has been cobbled together in a secret cabal of all three major parties. MPs, such as yourself, have very little time to look at the bill.

We have been told that no new powers are being introduced. If this were true that does still not make the bill any more necessary or legal, given the legality of the practice it legislates on. However, initial analysis of the bill shows that it does contain new, wider powers.

We’re told this is a temporary measure, but as the last Labour government demonstrated this is meaningless. Hindsight tells us to expect these powers to remain permanently. Parliament’s record on this is there for all to see.

So I implore, no, I demand, you vote against this legislation in the interests of promoting a liberal country free of unwarranted mass surveillance already deemed illegal. Were you to vote for this legislation (or cowardly abstain as I fear many will) you will be complicit in the continued erosion of our civil liberties that will further damage the legitimacy of Parliament. Parliament is already woefully unrepresentative and citizens are engaging more with campaign groups than they are political parties such as yours. This is just one battle in the ongoing war for a politics that serves the people, not narrow interests.

Yours expectantly,

Philip John

BT’s Content Connect might threaten hyperlocal TV’s prospects

Not content with shying away from laying down fibre while competitor Virgin does a JFDI like a good little broadband supplier, BT is now trying to single-handedly demolish net neutrality in the UK. Below are my thoughts, which I’ve sent in a letter to my MP, Michael Fabricant.

Via a number of sources including this article I learned that BT is planning a service which offers higher quality delivery service to content providers (such as the BBC with iPlayer).

Although I support the need for companies like BT to charge appropriately for services it’s clear that this service could create the two-tiered internet we fear. I can see two impacts;

1) Companies, such as the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, YouTube etc will be forced into a position whereby in order to maintain the quality of their current service they will have to pay substantial amounts of money to an already profitable BT Group. Sustaining could well mean raising prices, cutting costs (and we all know where..) or cutting the service altogether.

2) What I’m most worried about is the impact on local content. The recent Shott report clearly told the Government that local TV isn’t going to be delivered by 81 or 21 stations through masts, it will be over the web; “In the long-term, local TV looks set to be delivered through IPTV technology; therefore, any steps the Government takes through new regulatory interventions to facilitate local TV should have regard for this…”

Already several local ‘TV’ ‘stations’ have sprung up on the web including in David Cameron’s own constituency of Witney. There are similar efforts in Cornwall, Saddleworth (reporting on the Woolas by-election issue) and I would like to do the same in Lichfield.

I may find that The Lichfield Blog is priced out of providing good quality ‘TV’ services to residents though, thanks to this two-tier level of access to BT’s infrastructure.

For example, who is to decide whether programs from Sky’s on demand service are more important than a Lichfield-made documentary about the contentious HS2 issue or Friarsgate?

I hope you’ll put my argument to the minister responsible but also consider the potential impact on your constituents too.