UK Trade and Industry secretary Stephen Byers said the Home Office should consider changing the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill, which will give police agencies the power to intercept email, in light of business concerns.
The concerns came to light this week, following the Bill's entry into committee stage in the House of Lords. Perhaps the loudest objector was the British Chamber of Commerce, which put the potential cost of the Bill to industry at £46bn over five years.
During the DTI's regular parliamentary question time yesterday, Byers said: "We are aware that there are concerns in the business community about some of the Bill's proposals, which is why the Home Secretary [Jack Straw], on behalf of the Home Office, has indicated that he is more than willing to consult business about its concerns."
The UK government has published a series of documents defending the RIP Bill, including one that dismisses the £46bn figure. However, Byers has indicated that changes could still be made following further consultation with business.
Ironically, part of the controversial clauses of the proposed legislation were originally part of the DTI's Electronic Communications Bill, but were removed to ensure its speedy passage through the House of Lords.
Meanwhile, the RIP bill has been further hit by news that it may contain a technical loophole where basic network technology available to criminals and network managers could make it impossible to enforce. See previous story.
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