Is this the week Nick Clegg will ditch support for the draft Data Communications Bill?

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.

And this from today’s Sun:

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.

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10 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 1st Dec '12 - 6:51pm

    I guess that means we lost the fight to reform it. Oh well. At least it’ll go away for another five years.

  • Martin Lowe 1st Dec '12 - 8:17pm

    If Charles Farr (the Home Office mandarin who wants to introduce this law) believes so strongly about allowing the State to snoop on its citizens with few controls, then he should stand for Parliament with this as his main electoral pledge.

    Not keep pushing the same warmed-over plans under the noses of successive Home Secretaries irrespective of their Party.

  • Andrew Suffield 1st Dec '12 - 11:43pm

    If Charles Farr (the Home Office mandarin who wants to introduce this law) believes so strongly about allowing the State to snoop on its citizens with few controls, then he should stand for Parliament with this as his main electoral pledge.

    But that wouldn’t work. What he’s doing will eventually work – if he keeps rolling the dice, someday he’ll hit a government which does not care about all the people opposed to it.

  • Andre Wimble 2nd Dec '12 - 7:21am

    The Communicationsbill is exactly the sort of attack on Civil Liberties I would expect the libDems to oppose,

  • Conor McGovern-Paul 2nd Dec '12 - 3:46pm

    “Is this the week Nick Clegg will ditch support for the Bill?”

    God, I hope so.

  • Leekliberal 2nd Dec '12 - 6:11pm

    So do I!

  • I do hope so. Not sure my views are “left wing”…well, perhaps compared to The Sun

  • Incredible that the Tories’ talk about the new Press PCC’s statutory underpinning being the thin edge of a wedge . And yet they see no problem with giving away power to snoop in real time on the whole population. These ISP ‘black boxes ‘ are the real thin end of the wedge . The potential for abuse , whether it be smearing political opponents or general fishing expeditions, is huge. And as technical ability grows and heuristics improve, it could amount to a 24/7 monitored internet raising basic privacy concerns.

    If Clegg can’t oppose this he should hand in his resignation as leader now. Tell Cameron to put it in the 2015 Tory manifesto if he’s so committed to these non coalition agreement bound proposals,is he really that confident the public want it?

  • It is disappointing that Nick Clegg has only just decided to withdraw support from the Bill, it seems as though Clegg is not only departing from his manifesto but his also his liberal roots. None the less it is good to see that there may still be hope.

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