All Sections

Communications Bill snoopers charter delayed until after Olympics

The controversial Communications Bill, described as a ‘snoopers charter’ has been put on hold until after the Olympics. A green paper of the bill has instead been replaced by five seminars which will be held over the coming months.

The first seminar will take place next month, with minutes and a video published on the 18th of July. Results of the last seminar aren’t expected to take place until mid-September. This takes us past the Olympics, giving beleaguered Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt some breathing space.

“The UK’s communications sector is one of the strongest in the world” said Hunt. “We must ensure the sector can grow by being at the forefront of new developments in the industry. It is essential that we set the right conditions for the industry to enable businesses to grasp the opportunities created by new technology.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey added that “The communications industry is a key part of our economy. Through these seminars, we will look in detail at how best to drive investment and competition. We want to shape the Communications Bill so that we have the right framework to secure our place as Europe’s tech hub.”

The Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, is understood to encompass a variety of measures to stimulate competition and growth. It’s also thought to give security forces greater freedom to track citizen’s online activity.

While it is currently possible for police officers to do this, permission from a magistrate is required before monitoring can begin. The new Bill would remove this requirement.

The Communications Bill will also address “greater protection for children from inappropriate content,” which may or may not incorporate findings from a separate piece of legislation and “strengthening the ratings system for video games and consulting on extending age ratings to more music videos.”

So in the future, you may be required to prove that you’re 18 years of age before watching a saucy Rihanna video on YouTube.

A white paper will be published in early 2013 with a Communications Bill introduced by the final session of this Parliament. After the white paper, essentially a final draft, there then begins a lengthy process of debate and amendment before Royal Assent is given and its pressed into British Law.