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UK government scoops 'Internet Villain' nominations

There are three nominations for Internet Villain at this year's ISP Awards, and they are all government bodies
Written by Matt Loney, Contributor

Government departments have monopolised nominations for the Internet Villain award at this year's ISP Awards.

The Home Office, Oftel and the RadioCommunications Agency have all been nominated for the award, which will be presented at the ISPCon show at Olympia Exhibition Centre in February.

The Home Office has come under massive criticism over the past years for several laws that have been introduced under Labour, most notably its draconian Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). This Act, introduced under the auspices of Jack Straw when he was Home Secretary, gives law enforcement officers new powers to snoop on electronic communications.

The law has received particular criticism for the vexing issue of lost or missing encryption keys, where it states that firms must take responsibility for storing and giving up an encryption key on demand.

Anyone who loses an encryption key that the police have requested must shoulder the burden of proof to show their innocence -- a reversal of the usual concept in British law that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Failure to prove innocence could result in a prison sentence.

Oftel, meanwhile, is responsible for overseeing telecommunications in the UK, and unbundling of the local loop in particular -- seen by many as a fiasco.

And finally, the hapless RadioCommunications Agency is the body responsible for selling off radio spectrum in the UK; both the 3G spectrum which precipitated the collapse of telecoms shares when the successful bidders found themselves in massive debt, and broadband fixed wireless auctions. Three months after the start of the broadband fixed wireless auctions, the process had still failed to attract any bidders.

The nominations for Internet hero go to Broadband4Britain.com, to the information commissioner Elizabeth France and to Caspar Bowden of the Foundation for Information Policy Research. Broadband4Britain.com is a campaigning site, while both France and Bowden have been vocal critics of government moves that jeopardise the privacy of individuals online.

For everything Internet-related, from the latest legal and policy-related news, to domain name updates, see ZDNet UK's Internet News Section.

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