12 June 2000

The Alliance for Electronic Business - which includes the Confederation of British Industry - will today criticise a number of fundamental issues in the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers bill. They are expected to back a threatened revolt by the House of Lords against the bill, one of the provisions of which is the power to snoop on commercial and private emails.

Although government ministers have worked hard to win industry support for their e-commerce strategy, the AEB argues that it will impose a "potentially highly onerous" burden on business that could force some high-tech firms to move abroad. Unless ministers offer “substantial concessions, the ‘anti’ lobby in the Lords is almost certain to revolt. Peers claimed yesterday that they had sufficient numbers to defeat the bill, now at committee stage in the Lords.

The progress of the controversial bill will be closely watched by other European governments, since the UK is one of the first to try to impose the right to intercept internet communications. A similar move in the United States last year was roundly defeated.

News source: Financial Times