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UK Government web surveillance plans delayed

Plans for new surveillance laws giving the UK Government freedom to monitor people’s browsing habits in real time look to be delayed.

Speaking to the Guardian, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke of a desire to challenge the bill when it is published in draft form, after Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert threatened to rebel over the issue.

“I will defer to Julian, as readily as I will to [director of Liberty] Shami Chakrabarti, when it comes to being a guardian on the high principle of liberty and liberalism. It is actually something I genuinely care about a lot.”

Chakrabarti, was earlier quoted saying that the bill is “more ambitious than anything that has been done before [in the UK] It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy.”

UK Government web surveillance plans delayed

Originally to be announced during the Queen’s Speech on the 9th of May, the bill has already attracted controversy. The new legislation would allow the government to monitor social network and email traffic in real time.

The idea is that security services would be able to monitor who was talking to who and when, but not be able to monitor the actual content of messages. It’s understood that the proposed laws wouldn’t require a target to be a suspect in a criminal investigation and wouldn’t require police to seek a warrant to begin surveillance.

In a separate article published earlier in the Guardian, Clegg said “We are not simply going to bounce new legislation through parliament. We will publish draft clauses and subject them to proper pre-legislative scrutiny. The route to legislation will be a deliberative, open one which can be subject to real stress testing and scrutiny. That is what proper pre-legislative scrutiny is all about.”

“The security establishment will always say they need new powers tomorrow… It is the role of the politicians and parliament to make sure that requests for new powers, updated powers, made by the security services, are properly scrutinised and checked.”

Image credit: Flickr user adam_kershaw

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