E-commerce bill: Cyber lobbyists log on

A cyber lobbying initiative set up by volunteers in opposition to proposed e-commerce legislation has seen a 90 percent take up rate.

The ‘Adopt an MP' programme was launched in December by Stand, a 30-strong group of Internet enthusiasts, who want raise awareness about the dangers of government control of the Net. It offers members of the public the chance to "educate" their local MP on encryption and other Internet issues via Stand's Web site.

So far, 597 out of 659 MPs ‘adopted' by worried constituents. By entering their postcode, participants receive information about their local MP, a certificate of adoption and advice on how to contact their MP to debate issues such as encryption. It is believed to be the first example of online lobbying in the UK.

Organisers of the campaign have written to the government expressing their objections to the proposed e-commerce bill. As well as the implications for privacy - it is feared that emails will be easily intercepted if mandatory key escrow plans go ahead -- Stand is concerned about the damaging effects such a bill would have on e-commerce in the UK. Opposition to the bill, which was due out in December but is now delayed until early summer, has been steadily growing. The Confederation for Industry (CBI) is the latest body to join the anti e-commerce bandwagon.

Two prominent ministers, education minister David Blunkett and the Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd are among the ten percent of who have yet to be adopted.


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