RIP becomes law, opponents promise 'cold war'

Campaign to internationally discredit the RIP Bill is being launched by privacy groups

Internet campaigners promise to launch a "cold war" against the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill which became law Friday after a final reading in the House of Lords this week.

Although the Bill is now scheduled to come into force on 5 October, campaigners say they will carry out a prolonged international effort to discredit it. The Bill will give law enforcers powers to trawl through email messages using "black boxes" placed at UK ISPs and to allow law enforcers to decrypt encrypted messages.

RIP had much of its power diluted during its passage through the Lords but many still believe it is invasive and could potentially be very costly for ISPs and other Internet companies. The government has agreed to set aside £20m towards these costs but has not clarified precisely what ISPs will be expected to do.

"This legislation will devastate British e-commerce," says director of watchdog group Privacy International, Simon Davies. "It will undermine confidence in the Internet and force investment off-shore."

Davies promises Privacy International will step up efforts to draw attention to the legislation. He believes that targeting the international investment community along with ordinary Internet users will intensify pressure against RIP.

Yaman Akdeniz, director of CyberRights & CyberLiberties agrees that the fight should continue. "This is certainly not the end of the discussion as far as we're concerned," he says.

The fight is likely to be carried on to an international stage. Akdeniz believes that the Home Office intends to encourage other European nations to adopt similar legislation. "That will be the next arena," says Akdeniz.

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