28 June 2000

Following intense lobbying from industry associations and civil liberties groups, last minute changes to the government’s forthcoming Regulation of Investigatory Powers bill now include safeguards concerning the information police can obtain without a warrant from the Home Secretary, and on when police can demand the submission of decryption keys to allow the deciphering of encoded internet files.

The bill, which paves the way to interception of private e-mails by the police and state security organisations, is to be presented to the Commons this week. The government hopes the latest concessions will be sufficient to defuse a revolt on the bill by the House of Lords.

Home Office minister Charles Clarke also promised limitations to the bill’s cost implications for business: in particular, the Home Office will "make explicit" the costs to be borne by internet service providers in setting up and maintaining a capacity to intercept e-mails. However, the Home Office insists the changes are limited and "not a climbdown".

News source: Financial Times