The days of the draft Data Communications Bill (aka internet snoopers’ charter) may well be numbered if reports in the last few days are true that Nick Clegg is about to ditch the controversial plans. Here’s the BBC’s James Landale:
Party sources say leader Nick Clegg is ready to use a parliamentary report, due out next week, to oppose the plans. The draft Communications Data Bill would allow police access to details of people’s email and internet use, which many Lib Dems oppose. But Home Office sources insist the bill would become law by 2014. At the moment, the police and intelligence services can get access to information about people’s mobile phone use. The bill would extend those powers to cover email and the internet. The authorities would be able to see details of who communicated with whom, and when and where, but they would not be able to see the content of the message.
The Lib Dem boss has asked PM David Cameron to kick any law for online snooping into 2014 at the earliest. Plans for internet service providers to hold on to all online activity for a year should have been in place for the London Olympics. But Mr Clegg insisted on a 12-month scrutiny of the Communications Data Bill over civil liberties concerns. … The Deputy PM’s latest delaying tactic has ignited a Coalition clash with Home Secretary Theresa May, who vowed to push the plans through as soon as possible. … A security source added: “Clegg’s playing to his own left-wing party activists on this. It’s deeply irresponsible because lives are at stake.” The row comes ahead of two major reports by MPs on the bill due next week. They are expected to back its main thrust.
LibDemVoice recently surveyed party members about the draft Data Communications Bill — an overwhelming 70% opposed the Bill in its current form.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.