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NEW TIMETABLE FOR COMMUNICATIONS ACCESS PROVISIONS

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The home secretary today responded to public concerns about the ...
The home secretary today responded to public concerns about the

regulation of access to communications data.

The draft order, which was due to be debated in the house of commons

next week, has now been withdrawn for detailed consultation over the

Summer.

David Blunkett said:

'I recognise there is widespread concern about the current proposals

to regulate how public bodies can access phone and internet records.

'It's clear that whilst we want to provide greater security, clarity

and regulation to activities that already go on, our plans have been

understood as having the opposite effect. Bob Ainsworth and I have

therefore decided that it makes sense to withdraw the current

proposals to allow calmer and lengthy public discussion before we

bring forward new plans in this field. This will not affect the

police and security services who will continue to operate in the

usual way under current arrangements.

'However, we need a much broader debate about other public bodies

involved in this area, particularly given that none of them have

joined the debate over the last week to make clear the problems they

face without government legislating.

'Mobile phone and internet usage has grown enormously in the last

five years, bringing a whole new world of communications. The

reaction to our plans has shown that we need a much broader public

debate about how to strike the balance between the privacy of the

citizen and society's legitimate need for measures to support the

investigation of crime and to protect the public. We must also

remember the considerable safeguards provided to the public by the

Data Protection Acts.

'Despite being in public life, I value my own privacy and understand

these sensitivies. The time has come for a much broader public debate

about how we effectively regulate modern communications and strike

the balance between the privacy of the individual and the need to

ensure our laws and society are upheld.'

Home office minister Bob Ainsworth said:

'This is an important debate for the country to have. Everyone agrees

we need to uphold the law while ensuring communication services

providers know where they stand when asked for information. We

recognise public concern and are determined to get the balance

right.'

* The order that has been withdrawn is the addition of public

authorities to Part 1 Chapter 2 of RIPA, (Access to Communications

Data).

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