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Controversial Communications Data Bill to be redrafted admits Cameron

December 17, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, Email, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

The prime minister David Cameron has accepted the criticism from the public and businesses of the draft Communications Data Bill and agreed to re-write the controversial legislation.Controversial Communications Data Bill to be redrafted admits CameronCivil liberties campaigners have described the proposals as a “snoopers’ charter”, but Home Secretary Theresa May insists they are vital for countering paedophiles, extremists and fraudsters.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaderships agree on the need for new measures, but they disagree over their scope.

Nick Clegg: ”We need a fundamental rethink, go back to the drawing board”

The plans in the draft bill included:

  •     Internet service providers having to store for a year all details of online communication in the UK – such as the time, duration, originator and recipient of a communication and the location of the device from which it was made.
  •     They would also be having to store for the first time all Britons’ web browsing history and details of messages sent on social media, webmail, voice calls over the internet and gaming, in addition to emails and phone calls
  •     Police not having to seek permission to access details of these communications, if investigating a crime
  •     Police having to get a warrant from the home secretary to be able to see the actual content of any messages
  •     Four bodies having access to data: the police, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the intelligence agencies and HM Revenue and Customs

A report from the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Bill, made up of MPs and peers, accepted a new law was needed to help police fight crime and tackle security threats organised online.

But it warned ministers would be able to demand “potentially limitless categories of data” unless the draft bill was amended.

It called for “safeguards” over the new powers to prevent abuse and accused the government of producing estimates of the cost of implementing the plans which were not “robust” enough. The “net benefit figure” was “fanciful and misleading”, it said.

The MPs and peers added that the draft bill paid “insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy” and went “much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data”.

Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the committee had raised “a number of serious criticisms – not least on scope, proportionality, cost, checks and balances, and the need for much wider consultation”.

“It is for those reasons that I believe the coalition government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation. We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board.”

But he added: “The committee did not, however, suggest that nothing needs to be done. They were very clear that there is a problem that must be addressed to give law enforcement agencies the powers they need to fight crime. I agree.

In its report, the committee said the home secretary would be given “sweeping powers to issue secret notices to communications service providers, requiring them to retain and disclose potentially limitless categories of data”.

But it added: “We have been told that she has no intention of using the powers in this way. Our main recommendation is therefore that her powers should be limited to those categories of data for which a case can now be made.”

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