E-mail surveillance plans put on hold

Plans
to extend surveillance of e-mail and telephone records have been postponed
under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

The
BBC reports the Home Office has postponed debate on the issue because of
‘timetabling difficulties’, but officials privately say new safeguards are
being added in an attempt to satisfy critics.

The
proposal has been attacked by MPs and civil liberties groups.

A
vote on the proposals was due this week, but the Government has now put the
debate back to 1 July.

Conservative
peers threatened to use their voting strength to block the plans in the House
of Lords.

Critics
say the plan – which would allow seven government departments and a wide range
of organisations to look at private e-mail and telephone records – amounts to a
‘snooper’s charter’.

Currently,
the powers only apply to the Police, Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise.

By Quentin Reade

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