In the final campaign of the year, the York PEN team got out and about on campus to raise awareness about the dangers of the Investigatory Powers Bill. We raised hundreds of student signatures to a petition calling on our local Labour MP Rachael Maskell to stop abstaining and vote against the bill at its third and final House of Commons reading.
As the new co-chair Jonathan Tait wrote in his eloquent and passionate article, the bill will create a “government mandated and legal mass state surveillance framework” and engender a “profound stifling of free expression”. Individuals will be forced to consider that data about their every action is captured and available not only to various security services, but to the police and local councils. This too assumes that the storage of said data, which would be a gold mine for hackers and fraudsters, is perfectly secure. Overall, in terms of free and independent expression, the bill is a profoundly disturbing landmark.
In brighter news to round off the final term, the York PEN Big Fat Quiz of the Year at Lounge was a smash hit and raised over £160 for English PEN! A fantastic evening was had by all, thanks in part to the themed cocktails…
Thanks to all who contributed throughout this fantastic year for York PEN, and best wishes to the new committee who have an amazing opportunity ahead of them!