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UPDATE3 Deputy PM Nick Clegg Hints UK ISP Internet Snooping Bill is Dead

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 (10:56 am) - Score 1,106

The UK coalition government’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat), has this morning put the cat amongst the pigeons after he told London’s LBC 97.3 radio station that the controversial internet snooping bill “isn’t going to happen“.

The Communications Data Bill would effectively require ISPs to log a much bigger slice of their customers online activity, which could then be shared in real-time with pre-approved public bodies, security services and might also require some form of central database. Crucially this would take place irrespective of whether or not you have ever committed a crime.

According to the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA UK), a revised version of the bill, which was heavily criticism last year (here), is due to be published “imminently” and many expect it to be announced as part of the Queen’s Speech on 8th May 2013. Well not if Nick Clegg has anything to say about it.

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said:

There are technical issues about how as technology changes you’ve got to update … and we’ll work with the police and others to do so.

This idea of a ‘snoopers charter’ as it’s being dubbed where a law is passed where there is a record kept of all the websites you visit, of who you communicate with on social media sites I think that is not necessarily workable nor proportionate so it’s not going to happen.

It’s certainly isn’t going to happen with Liberal Democrats in Government.

No doubt this will come as news to the Home Office, which at the last count was still aggressively pursuing the bill. On the other hand Nick Clegg has previously threated to block the bill, albeit only if the changes fail to address the core concerns about unwarranted privacy invasion, cost and workability (or lack thereof).

As usual one must take the words of any politician with a suitably large tub of salt (possible enough to kill any normal person). Clegg is clearly against the idea of keeping a record of all your online activity, although in reality the bill doesn’t log “all” your activity (i.e. the actual content of your communications is not retained).

On the other hand Clegg’s comments are quite broad when referring to the “snoopers charter” and in that respect we’re still waiting to hear what the Home Office has to say for confirmation.

UPDATE 11:13am

A comment from the Open Rights Group (ORG).

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the ORG, said:

This is great news. We expect the coalition to stick to their promise. We will look closely in case broad powers are still proposed, and especially that the “Request Filter” data trawling machines are dropped.”

UPDATE 12:25am

The Register has received a vague response from the Home Office, which flatly refused to comment except to say that “discussions on the bill are ongoing“. The spokesperson also said that we will know if the bill is still alive “if it appears in the Queen’s Speech on 8 May.”

Roughly translated this suggests that the Lib Dem’s weren’t happy with the proposed amendments and have effectively blocked it unless something more considerable is done.

UPDATE 26th April 2013

The ISPA has furnished us with a new statement to reflect what ISPs think about the variable events of the past 24 hours.

Mark Gracey, ISPA Chairman, told ISPreview.co.uk:

Industry are looking for clarity from Government that the draft bill will not be brought forward in its current form.

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. As was raised during the draft bill’s scrutiny by the Joint Committee, 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.

We urge Government to reassess the current proposals and ensure, as recommended by the Joint Committee, that industry and other stakeholders are properly consulted in any future review of powers.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Craig Brass says:

    I’m assuming he means that if multiple people share an IP address which a crime is traced back to, how on earth are they going to work out which user it is?

  2. Craig Brass says:

    (by that I was meaning reference to ISPs who are combating the shortage by sharing an IPv4 IP for multiple of their customers which a few ISPs are trialling…)

  3. Phil says:

    Sack Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) useless, & liar!

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Has he lied in today’s article? We’ll see soon enough I guess.

    2. Timeless says:

      if he hasnt lied in todays article it would be the first time he hasnt broken a promise.. every time he had the chance before with other issues he always lost his backbone..

      until he uses his veto, l dont believe it.

  4. x66yh says:

    CGNAT – multiple users per IP is already used in mobile phones connecting to the web. So it’s obviously already quite possible to ident the end user at any one time.

    That still of course only ID’s the router/modem. It may be several computers & users connected to it.
    That said, from the one case I knew all it took was a visit from the Police to ‘explain the situation’ and that owner might like to “help with their investigations”. Whereupon the modem/router owner suddenly became very cooperative very rapidly and provided full details of the individual that had used their computer on that day………….

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