An alliance of more than 50 UK organisations has called on the House of Lords to scrap the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill.
Delivered on the day the Upper House committee begins to present its report on the Bill, the open letter has been signed by a mixture of trades unions, consumer groups, business and medical organisations, and human rights campaigners.
The Bill, which would give the police powers to monitor private internet surfing and email, has been criticised for being badly drafted, too expensive for ISPs to implement, technologically obsolete, damaging to ecommerce and potentially breaking European Union human rights laws.
Signatories include Amnesty International, Manufacturing and Science Finance Union, Esther Dyson, Royal College of Nursing, National Union of Journalists, the Society of Editors, Privacy International and the Telecommunication Managers Association.
The government has proposed amendments to the Bill to assuage fears and earlier this week published four codes of practice for comment, but the moves are seen as too little, too late by the Bill's critics.
The full text of the open letter delivered to the House of Lords follows:
"We wish to express our opposition to the UK government's Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill.
"We agree that the government has a duty to protect public safety, but the RIP Bill is neither an acceptable nor a responsible means of achieving this goal. We are deeply concerned that the bill will inhibit the development of the internet and ecommerce, while creating a range of onerous and unfair impositions on individuals, organisations and companies.
"The Bill substantially increases the power of law enforcement and security agencies, and yet provides wholly inadequate measures for authorisation and oversight. The ability of Government to demand decryption keys creates a dangerous precedent, which will affect the rights of all computer users. Surveillance of website visits will undermine confidence in the internet as a means of communication.
"We urge the government to withdraw the Bill. Any subsequent legislation should, at the very least, provide stringent limitations and oversight to ensure that it does not violate the rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and privacy."
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