Tories plan to block Internet snooping Bill

The Conservative party adds its voice to mounting criticism of the government's digital snooping bill.
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

According to shadow Home Office Minister Anne Widdecombe, the conservatives are considering withdrawing support for the Bill over the issue of proving the legal authorities with encryption keys. The government wants to push the bill through by July.

According to Anne Widdecombe's press officer "the conservatives have severe reservations over the issue of the burden of proof". "Just because [the conservative party] supported the government on the third reading, they should not take for granted that we will do so for the third [and final} reading," he says.

If passed, the bill would give law enforces the power to demand encryption keys from individuals suspected of illegal activity. Refusal to hand over keys could result in a two years prison sentence. Encryption experts and civil liberty campaigners claim this reverses the burden of proof and is likely to result in abuses of individual liberty and privacy.

Campaigners point out that it may often be impossible to hand over encryption keys, if the keys are lost or destroyed for example, and that it would be logistically impossible for the government to safeguard all public information.

Civil liberty group Stand recently launched an initiative to encourage Internet users to protest against this proposed legislation. It has set up an online service enabling surfers to send a fax protesting directly to their own MP.

Editorial standards