Report says snooping bill expensive and useless

Regulation of Investigatory Powers bill could impose crippling costs on ISPs and undermine British e-commerce

The controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers(RIP) Bill will cost Britain a crippling £43bn over the next five years if made law, according to a report published Monday.

The Economic Impact of The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill, commissioned by the British Chamber of Commerce(BCC) and produced by experts at the London School of Economic(LSE), says that government assurances about cost efficiency are woefully off the mark.

"The overall financial implication of RIP, in terms both of losses and leakage from the UK economy, and of cost of implementation, may be in the order of £46bn in the first five years of operation," it says.

The Bill requires British ISPs to install equipment enabling the security services to monitor surfing and email in the UK. These measures could cost ISPs in excess of £640m, considerably more than the £30m suggested in a government commissioned report from the Smith Group in May.

The BCC's report argues RIP will not even fulfil its stated purpose. "The RIP Bill as it stands is entirely inadequate as a mechanism to achieve efficient and reasonable interception and surveillance. Its effect is likely to be loss of confidence in e-commerce, unacceptable costs to business and to the UK economy," it says.

The BCC announced Monday that it has written to Jack Straw, the home secretary, to highlight concerns over the bill. "The government has so far failed to reassure the business community that the RIP Bill will not impose considerable new costs, risks and disruption," says director general of the BCC Chris Humphries. "As it stands, this legislation could undermine the government's ambition of making the UK the best place to trade electronically."

RIP is currently in the committee stage within the House of Lords, where it will receive its closest scrutiny so far.

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