skip to content skip to search skip to navigation Listen Live skip to logon
Sunday 28th August 2016
Max 21°C | Min 16°C

Nick Clegg: I Won't Let Snoopers Charter Happen

Thursday 25th April 2013

The Deputy Prime Minister has told LBC 97.3 the controversial law that would allow all our online activity to be recorded won't happen while the Lib Dems are in power.

Nicknamed 'the snoopers charter' the bill would see every website visited, email sent and social media communication by every British citizen recorded and give pollice and security services the ability to access that information.

It has been heavily criticised by business groups, security academics, civil liberties campaigners around the world.

Nick Clegg has launched a strong resistance to the measures, which feature in Home Secretary Theresa May's Communications Data Bill.

"It's not going to happen," Mr Clegg made clear in his weekly LBC 97.3 programme Call Clegg.

"It's certainly isn't going to happen with Liberal Democrats in Government," he added.

"I've spoken to senior police officers and members of the security services - of course we need to support them. They've got very significant powers already, which I support them in deploying to go after criminals, to keep us safe."

It is thought that Ms May has now withdrawn the legislation with significant changes in the hope of getting it included in the Queen's Speech on May 8.

However Nick Clegg made clear live on LBC 97.3 that he will accept minor technical changes to how our online activity is currently regulated - but not much more.

"There are techinical issues about how as technology changes you've got to update. For instance we've all got more and more mobile devices but there's not enough IP addresses to go around and we need to straighten that out and that's clearly something the Government will do and we'll work with the police and others to do so."

An IP is a unique series of numbers - a code - that is linked to a specific computer.

It can be used it as a sort of virtual fingerprint, helping police to track down who is responsible for specific online content.

However with the rise of smart phones and tablets many devices can operate online without an IP address.

"This idea of a 'snoopers charter' as it's being dubbed where a law is passed where there is a record kept of all the websites you visit, of who you communicate with on social media sites I think that is not necessarily workable nor proportionate so it's not going to happen," Nick Clegg added.

Privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch has welcomed the news.

"Nick Clegg has made the right decision for our economy, for internet security and for our freedom," Emma Carr, deputy director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said.

"To say that the police can't get data from the internet without this bill is simply wrong.  Where security or child safety is at risk, companies already comply with police requests and there was a real risk this bill would make the situation worse by driving dangerous people underground into encrypted services.

"Recording the websites we look at and who we email would not have made us safer, as some of the country's leading cyber security academics argued this week. It would have made Britain a less attractive place to start a company and put British companies in the position of being paid by the Government to spy on their customers, something that oppressive regimes around the world would have quickly copied."

Big Brother Watch belives the money would be better spent on "ensuring the police have the skills and training to make use of the huge volume of data that is available."