The government admits that its controversial bill allowing law enforcement agencies to snoop on data traffic may be illegal and costly to business.
"We need to talk, and we need to listen to each other. With your help, we can get the bill right," eminister Patricia Hewitt told an audience of IT industry representatives and civil liberty campaigners.
Hewitt was speaking during the fourth Scrambling for Safety conference in London last week, where the data snooping content of the proposed legislation came under heavy attack.
Law Society representative Nicholas Bohm told the conference that the draft bill clashed with the European Convention on Human Rights, which Labour is incorporating into UK law.
Other speakers said that the legislation will increase operating costs for Internet service providers (ISPs) by forcing them to provide instant access to law enforcement agencies.
Earlier this year ISP Demon Internet said it would have to spend £1 million a year to meet the requirements of the proposed law.
Responding to the criticism, Hewitt said: "I will be a strong voice for the industry, in particular the ISPs, on this matter. We want to reduce business costs."
Bohm said that three clauses in the draft bill contravene the assumption of innocence and the right of suspects not to incriminate themselves. The clauses are in the controversial section of the bill allowing interception of electronic traffic.
"We will certainly ensure that the bill we introduce to parliament will be compliant with the Human Rights Act," Hewitt replied.
Earlier this year ministers abandoned plans to tap communications using the controversial key escrow techniques.
Your questions for the minister covered topics including telephone and telecoms pricing, the difficulties of funding IT startups, the skills shortage and security. They have been forwarded to her department and were asked in an exclusive interview to be published in Computing next week.
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