Snoopers' Charter amendments withdrawn – FOR NOW ...

Battle won, yet the 'peeping powers' war rages on

The House of Lords rejected controversial last-minute amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in a debate on Monday.

The amendments – which critics slammed as akin to those previously proposed, and which were rejected in the Communications Data Bill – were stapled onto the bill in a last minute move last Thursday.

Critics argued that the 18 pages of amendments would have radically expanded surveillance powers without proper Parliamentary scrutiny, labelling them a Snoopers' Charter via a legislative backdoor.

ISPs would have been required to collect and store data taken from their subscribers' online traffic for 12 months and hand this over to the government without a warrant, as previously reported.

Four peers proposed to shoehorn the amendments into the near complete Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. However, after a debate during which many peers spoke against the amendments, Lord Blair withdrew amendment 79 from consideration without calling for a vote.

Although the Snoopers' Charter has again been defeated, privacy advocates see this as only a temporary success, warning that the proposals are likely to return after the UK's general election in May.

Trade group the Internet Service Providers' Association welcomed the decision to drop the controversial amendments: "ISPA is pleased that amendments were withdrawn and believes that inserting wide-ranging powers in to an already fast-tracked Bill was a poor way of making policy," it said in a statement.

"ISPA, along with many others, have not seen the amended CD Bill or had a chance to scrutinise it."

"As many peers and the Joint Committee argued, it is crucial that industry is involved in a full and proper consultation at an early stage. ISPA wants to see a full and open comprehensive debate of the legislation in the next Parliament that takes account of the current reviews to deliver a framework that ensures reasonable access to data, is technically feasible and has adequate oversight arrangements, whilst not negatively impacting on the UK as a leading destination for digital businesses." ®

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