ISPA criticises e-commerce bill

The UK's Internet trade body, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), has attacked the government's e-commerce bill as potentially damaging to ISP employees and likely to stifle e-trade.
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

ISPA has joined a barrage of criticism aimed at the government's long-awaited and controversial bill which was finally published two weeks ago.

ISPA criticises the bill for being overly complicated and laying too much emphasis on law enforcement provisions. At the heart of ISPA's concerns is a clause relating to police powers to access decryption keys. Clause 13 makes a new offence of "tipping off" whereby a recipient of a police notice reveals information to someone else. The offence carries up to two years in prison.

"These provisions directly affect employees of ISPs and expose them to a potentially disproportionate penalty," says ISPA chairman Tim Pearson. "Even thought the disclosure notice may not have been served directly on them they may simply become aware of it and mention it in passing to another person. This looks unacceptable," he adds.

Secretary general of ISPA Nicholas Lansman believes the bill is far too severe. "While the intention of the bill is to promote e-commerce, there are elements to it which will stifle it," he says.

Defending the bill, a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) spokesman dismissed ISPA's concerns: "It is designed for those who deliberately tip off suspects. Law abiding individuals have nothing to worry about," the spokesman says.

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