Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has put the kibosh on the Home Office’s controversial plan to hang on to details of Britons’ web activity, saying the bill will not be passed under the Liberal Democrats’ watch.
"What people have dubbed the snooper's charter - I have to be clear with you, that's not going to happen,” Clegg said during his weekly LBC radio appearance.
The bill was tabbed to store details of every website visited, email sent, and social media communiqué dispatched by Britons, under the auspices of protecting citizens from terrorists, paedophiles and perpetrators of fraud.
However, following sweeping objections from civil liberties watchdogs and business groups, a redraft was demanded. But discussions about “next steps”, including a potential overhaul of the bill, are ongoing.
"In other words the idea that the government will pass a law which means there will be a record kept of every website you visit, who you communicate with on social media sites, that's not going to happen. It's certainly not going to happen with Liberal Democrats in government,” Clegg said.
"We all committed ourselves at the beginning of this coalition to learn the lessons from the past, when Labour overdid it, trying to constantly keep tabs on everyone. We have a commitment in this Coalition Agreement to end the storage of internet information unless there is a very good reason to do so,” he added.
Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch applauded Clegg’s statement, calling it a “tremendous victory”.
“Rather than spending billions on another Whitehall IT disaster that tramples over our civil liberties and privacy on an unprecedented scale, we should focus on ensuring the police have the skills and training to make use of the huge volume of data that is available,” the group wrote in an email.
The Home Office has not commented on the deputy prime minister’s announcement.