Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has voiced concerns over the nature of the draft Communications Data Bill – legislation proposed by the government to aid the fight against Internet crime and terrorism.
Home Secretary Theresa May has been the bill's leading advocate and says the laws are crucial to help policing and ensure the safety of citizens. The plans would require Internet service providers to store all details of online communication in the UK, including the time and location of the activity, as well as the originator and recipients involved. Police would then have access to the data once they have attained a warrant.
But Clegg has cited a report from the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill, which accepted that a new cyber-policing law was necessary but warned that the law could be abused with ministers able to demand “limitless categories of data”. The plan’s “fanciful costing” was also called into question.
Clegg said the report brought to light "a number of serious criticisms - not least on scope, proportionality, cost, checks and balances, and the need for much wider consultation".
"It is for those reasons that I believe the coalition government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation. We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board."
The Liberal Democrat leader added, "The committee did not, however, suggest that nothing needs to be done. They were very clear that there is a problem that must be addressed to give law enforcement agencies the powers they need to fight crime. I agree.
"But that must be done in a proportionate way that gets the balance between security and liberty right."
Unperturbed by Clegg’s reservations, MP May has responded in a column for the Sun that states she is “determined” to push through “these vitally important laws.”
Image: Flickr, Liberal Democrats