Letter to Pauline Neville Jones re: RIPA consultation

Pauline Neville-Jones
Home Office                        
2 Marsham Street                                                                                                25 November 2010
London SW1P 4DF
Dear Pauline Neville-Jones,

RIPA Consultation

Your Department recently issued a consultation on changes to RIPA, which we believe are very important to UK privacy regulation. These changes are meant to answer deficiencies in regulation of private interception of communications, such as took place to tens of thousands of BT customers in the trials of advertising technology from the company Phorm.[i]

Unfortunately, your Department issued this consultation with only one month to respond, instead of the usual three months as indicated in government guidelines, and did not inform and are refusing to meet civil society groups. We have no doubt that industry groups have been both met and informed.

The guidelines, maintained by BIS, state:

Moreover, deviation from the Code will, at times, be unavoidable when running a formal, written, public consultation. It is recommended that departments be open about such deviations, stating the reasons for the deviation and what measures will be employed to make the exercise as effective as possible in the circumstances.[ii]

To our knowledge none of this has happened.

We would therefore like to ask you firstly to extend the deadline for the consultation by at least a month to allow civil society groups to respond properly, and secondly to instruct your officials to give civil society groups the same level of access as industry groups on this matter. Please could you also instruct your Department to advertise the Consultation on their website.

Finally, given the urgency of this, we would like you to instruct your Department to arrange a meeting with your officials as soon as possible to discuss this matter before the consultation is closed.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Killock, Open Rights Group
Simon Davies, Privacy International
Phil Booth, No2ID
Terri Dowty, ARCHRights
Dr Eric Metcalfe, Justice
Helen Wallace, Genewatch


[i] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/consultations/ripa-effect-lawful-intercep/ripa-amend-effect-lawful-incep?view=Binary

[ii] ] http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file47158.pdf