A 17-page amendment to a bill designed to thwart terrorism which had raised fears that the government was using parliamentary backdoors to smuggle the so-called ‘Snoopers' Charter’ onto the statue books has been shelved.
However, there are concerns that it could be reintroduced later on in the bill’s progress through Parliament.
The amendments were put forward to be added to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill by four Lords who had raised concerns that the UK lacks effective capabilities to intercept communications data.
They want to give more powers to the government so that telecoms firms have to retain and share communications data.
Privacy groups and MPs have raised concerns over the security and privacy implications of such measures, particularly after the European Commission ruled last year that bulk data collection is illegal.
The UK government has argued that such measures are vital to stop terrorism in the wake of high-profile incidents such as the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby.
The introduction of the 17-page amendment in the House of Lords last week was seen as an "abuse" of parliamentary procedure by trying to introduce new legislation without debate in the House of Commons.
However, during a debate on the amendments on Monday evening, Lord King of Bridgwater removed the amendments for consideration, in an apparent victory for those opposed to their introduction.
However, the wording of Lord King’s removal of the amendment leaves the door open for its reintroduction at a later date.
“There have been a lot of tributes to the security agencies here, and in this instance, with the threats that they face, I believe that the balance comes in favour of ensuring these additional abilities to deal with the new technologies which the out-of-date RIPA arrangements do not provide,” he said.
“I believe we need to look at this very seriously. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.”
Despite this withdrawal, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), expressed concerns that the amendments could return.
”Four Lords with links to the Home Office and security services are campaigning to revive the discredited Snoopers' Charter before the election. [The] ORG is concerned that similar proposals will appear again at the report stage," he said.
“The peers' amendments fail to address the concerns raised by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons who examined the draft Communications Data Bill and found it to be inappropriate."
One of those who had already spoken out against the amendment was Liberal Democrat Lord Strasburger.
He also raised concerns on Twitter that, while the plans have been shelved for now, he believes another attempt to bring in such measurers will take place in the future.
#SnoopersCharter probably stopped for now in Lords but I fear it will be back after the election. Securocrats use fear to justify anything.— Paul Strasburger (@LordStras) January 27, 2015
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill will be debated again on 28 January.
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