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Death of snoopers’ charter is cautiously welcomed

Opponents aren't ready to celebrate yet
Fri Apr 26 2013, 12:45
Butler with champagne

OPPONENTS OF THE INTRUSIVE UK snoopers' charter Communications Bill haven't been celebrating since Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he won't support it.

Clegg said yesterday that he and his party cannot support the Communications Bill and that it will not be included in the Queen's Speech.

He was clear about this, but his statement has not been repeated by Prime Minister David Cameron, and it is possible that he could stand up and tell Clegg to pipe down.

While Clegg and his Lib Dem party are convinced that this is the end of the bill, UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye cautiously welcomed the news.

"This proposal should never have come forward in the first place, it would turn us all from citizens into suspects. I hope this is indeed the good news we are promised. Let's wait for the final evidence, you'll forgive me for being sceptical about LibDem pledges," he said.

"The death of the Snoopers' Charter would be a great victory for digital rights activists. That the Government are prepared to listen shows our growing strength. It's clear that attacking the free Internet and people's privacy is becoming more and more unacceptable politically. We need to see the Digital Economy Act dumped, opposition to Cameron's unworkable idea for public WiFi filters, an end to site blocking, real investment in infrastructure, and action to get those left behind online."

The head of the UK Internet Service Providers Association, the body that represents the interests of the ISPs whose role in the Communications Bill is seen as controversial, wants more clarity over the future of the bill and others like it, adding that his members see the issue as an important one that needs careful handling.

"Industry are looking for clarity from Government that the draft bill will not be brought forward in its current form," said ISPA chairman Mark Grace.

"This is an important and sensitive issue for industry and the wider internet community and we have argued all along that there is a need to review law enforcement's powers in this area. However, as we have consistently maintained, any new powers should be workable and proportionate. We are yet to be convinced that the current proposals for a bill will meet these requirements, in particular the third party data retention requirements and the request filter."

Big Brother Watch spoke more warmly of the development, saying, "Nick Clegg has made the right decision for our economy, for internet security and for our freedom."

Closer to home, the co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Julian Huppert said he is delighted with Clegg's decision.

"I am delighted that Nick Clegg has stood up for the British public on this. He was right to demand that these proposals be published as a draft, which gave us all a chance to see just how badly thought through the Home Office proposals were," he said, adding, "And he is now right to say that what the Home Office propose is unacceptable."

Nick deBois, the Conservative MP for Enfield North added, "It's good news that this Bill is dead. The scattergun approach to monitoring personal data would have made us all suspects." µ


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