Cameron Calls For Cross-Party Support On Communications Data Controversy

Prime Minister David Cameron said today he hoped the House of Commons could come to an agreement on what should be done about the Communications Data Bill, following fresh calls to revive the so-called Snoopers’ Charter.

Nick Clegg said the bill, which would give police greater access to Internet-based communications information on every citizen, would not go through with the Liberal Democrats in government. Many subsequently thought the bill had been killed off.

But since the murder of military drummer Lee Rigby last month, members of the House of Lords and home secretary Theresa May have called for bill to be put back on the table.

Cameron on communications data

Cameron said during questions in Parliament today that the house needed a “frank debate” on the proposals, which would let government force ISPs to collect all customers’ comms data, not including the content of messages, but the who, when and where. Website visits would also be logged under the rules.

“There is a problem when at the moment, 95 percent of serious crimes involve the use of communications data,” Cameron said.

“As telephony moves from fixed and mobile telephony and on to the Internet, our intelligence and police services will have a problem. We need to address this problem. We should address it in a sensitive and careful way.

“We should look at all the non-legislative options that there are, but I hope we can have a measure of cross-party support on all sides of the house to try and get this right because we will suffer if we don’t.”

The Tories and Labour look set to back the bill, which privacy campaigners have derided, claiming it will lead to gross infringements of people’s human rights. The Liberal Democrats are almost certain to continue fighting the proposed laws.

Just last week, Clegg reiterated his concerns about Snooper’s Charter, telling LBC radio it was “unworkable and disproportionate”.

Julian Huppert MP, of the Lib Dems, told TechWeek over Twitter it appeared a tussle between the three parties was emerging. “But there are some on both Labour and Tory sides who are more enlightened than their front benches,” Huppert said.

Technology companies are against the plans too. Google, Facebook and Skype owner Microsoft have written to the government, warning about the cost implications of the bill.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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