Tom Watson writes:
In April, when the European court said Britain's data retention laws breached two of our fundamental rights – the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data – I started to lobby Labour's shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, as to what a possible reform might look like.
With surveillance on the agenda like never before following the Guardian's publication of the Edward Snowden revelations, I thought we should draw a line in the sand.
I got no response, so I wrote again in June, this time because security and terrorism chief Charles Farr had for the first time confirmed that GCHQ was conducting the mass surveillance of every British citizen using Google, Facebook and YouTube channels.
In June the Home Office told me that it had no plans to update our data retention regulations in light of the European judgment.
Either the Home Office has terrible legal advice, or they were cooking something up behind closed doors.
Both should worry us.
Perhaps that is why Cooper didn't respond to my letters.
But her team has clearly been busy because we now know that the three main party leaders have been engaged in secret talks to respond to the European court.
Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and David Cameron are going to railroad surveillance laws through parliament in just three days. Apparently it doesn't have time to discuss this properly.
Yet parliament went into recess a week early in May because we were told there was no need to debate further legislation.
Something isn't right about representatives of the people being told by their party leaders to pass laws that they've barely read, let alone properly considered.
The bill was published in draft form a few hours ago.
It's pointless attempting to scrutinise it because, thanks to the secret deal, we know it will be law by the end of next week. Yet on first look the bill only pays lip service to the European court.
The judgment said the previous legislation was not "necessary and proportionate". The draft bill does use these words, but it's barely a nod to the court's requirements.
The judgment said clearly that the mass retention of the data of every citizen was not proportionate. This legislation ignores this, allowing its retention for 12 months.
The bill says that new regulations may be passed to restrict the use of retention notices, but these are not set out.
And these new restrictions won't be passed by all parliamentarians but as statutory instruments through small committees of a select few MPs.
There is a tiny amendment to section 5 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, presumably inserted to save the blushes of those Liberal Democrat MPs who stood on a manifesto to reduce state surveillance.
Never mind the coalition agreement committed to reducing the unnecessary storage of our emails and internet records, this will do little to alter the balance – and in fact the law's scope will be enhanced by new provisions for warrants on people outside the UK.
While the Lib Dems can spin as much as they like that this isn't the draft communications data bill, this is clearly a light version of it which ignores the ruling of a court on fundamental rights and extends surveillance powers overseas.
The party spent the day crowing about the concessions granted to civil liberties groups such as Don't Spy on Us, but the concessions aren't even in the bill.
We have to trust this government to deliver these concessions. Is this a game we should be willing to play?
Yet the details are irrelevant.
A secret deal between elites has removed the possibility of parliamentary scrutiny and engagement with civic society. The bill, warts and all, will be law next week.
Theresa May has in the past stood strongly for the idea of policing by consent. What a shame she doesn't think the same principles apply to our security services.
The party leaders will get their way next week, but the price will be further erosion of the authority of our political institutions.
Today parliament feels a little further away from our citizens.