While it’s not certain at the moment, it’s being suggested by some sources that the Liberal Democrats could be pushing to have the Communications Data Bill – one that would give police increased powers to monitor email and internet usage – squashed.
According to the BBC, the Home Office is still stating publicly that the bill is set to be brought into practice in 2014 – similar to the way that the Digital Economy Bill was rushed in at the end of the last government’s parliament. It believes that extending powers beyond mobile phone snooping, to include both email and internet usage, is a necessary one to help combat crime and terrorism, while opponents believe it to be a further invasion of privacy and one more step on the road to a 1984 style ‘nanny state.’ Nick Clegg apparently agrees with the latter group, having said directly to the Prime Minister that he is “non-committal” about the bill.
Some of the sources being cited suggest that Mr Clegg will go all out to stop the bill being passed and that ultimately it’s dead in the water, since without Lib Dem support, the Conservatives couldn’t hope to pass it. However Labour has yet to make clear whether it plans to support it or not. Next week the bill we see some public debate, where the joint committee on the bill will suggest that the Home Office hasn’t done enough to show that a bill like this is necessary.
It’s also been suggested that forcing companies to store data records for 12 months puts an unfair burden on business and presents a grave security threat, since information like that would be a gold mine for hackers.
If you want to read the bill in its entirety, you can do so here.
KitGuru Says: Hopefully this bill ends up getting quashed. It was annoying when Labour sneaked in the Digital Economy Bill, it’d be a shame if we see the same sort of thing happen with the current government – though hardly surprising.