Industry opposition to the UK government's proposed communications snooping bill has intensified following the publication of a report claiming it could cost UK business a massive £46bn over its first five years.
The report, commissioned by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), also claims the Bill would place many businesses in a precarious position. Yesterday, the Institute of Directors and the Foundation for Information Policy Research said the Bill is at odds with the government's standing on the European Convention on Human Rights.
The proposed Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill will require ISPs to provide facilities to allow police authorities to intercept and decrypt electronic communications, including email. Yesterday, the Bill entered its committee stage in the House of Lords, the last time the proposed legislation can be amended. So far, 229 amendments have been tabled, and the government faces the prospect of seeing it substantially changed before it is sent back to the House of Commons.
Government estimates put the cost of implementing the Bill at £34m, but this figure is a fraction of the £640m over five years that the new report says it will cost ISPs alone. In terms both of losses and leakage from the UK economy, and of implementation costs, the sum may rise to £46bn in the first five years of operation, according to the report which was written by a team of university professors, international information privacy experts and UK business leaders.
"It imperils the government's intention of making Britain the most desirable place to trade electronically," said the report.
"As it stands, RIP is likely to create a legal environment which will inhibit investment, impede the evolution of ecommerce, impose direct and indirect costs on business and the consumer, diminish overall trust in ecommerce, disrupt business-to-business relationships, place UK companies at a competitive disadvantage and create a range of legal uncertainties which will place a growing number of businesses in a precarious position."
The Home Office has refuted the high cost claims. "We took widespread soundings on how much the Bill would cost to implement and nobody mentioned any figure remotely approaching £46bn," a Home Office spokesperson told vnunet.com.
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