PracticePeople In PracticeMinisters set to back down on e-mail Bill

Ministers set to back down on e-mail Bill

Home Office ministers are working on modifications to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill following harsh criticism from business leaders who claim companies could be forced offshore.

The RIP Bill will pave the way for British law enforcement agencies to intercept e-mails and decode encrypted data sent over the internet. Essentially, the authorities will be able to demand the ‘keys’ to unlock data that has been coded for secure transmission over the web.

But the Financial Times reported today that the controversial bill is being watered down in an attempt to push it through the Lords next month.

Stephen Byers, trade and industry secretary, has been lobbying the Home Office to alter the regulation of investigatory powers bill in a bid to allay business leaders’ fears of costs and privacy.

It is believed, however, that the modifications will be slight amendments rather than major changes.

Jack Straw wrote to the FT last week defending the bill as an extension of current investigatory powers, such a phone tapping.

It is understood the changes to the bill will focus on warding off businesses’ concerns over the cost of installing devices to intercept e-mail traffic and on the rules covering access to encryption keys.

Special report: Critics hope snooping Bill will rest in peace

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