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UK internet monitoring bill set to be rewritten after privacy complaints

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Cloud over British Parliament stock
Cloud over British Parliament stock

The British government has said it will rewrite a proposed law that would have required ISPs to store user information like browsing history and email details for up to a year, the BBC reports. The Draft Communications Data Bill was introduced by UK Home Secretary Theresa May, who has said it's vital for helping the police catch "pedophiles and terrorists" who operate online. But a report by a Parliamentary committee said that "the current draft Bill is too sweeping, and goes further than it need or should." Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also threatened to block the bill in its current form, saying that "the coalition government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation. We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board."

Besides requiring the storage of more information, the Draft Communications Data Bill would have allowed police to view details of it (though not the content itself) without a warrant. As happens with many bills of its type, the committee said that the underlying concept of using data effectively in crime-solving was sound, but that the draft erred too far on the side of surveillance. "We believe that... the Government will be able to devise a more proportionate measure than the present draft Bill, which would achieve most of what they really need, would encroach less upon privacy, would be more acceptable to [service providers], and would cost the taxpayer less," says the report. Specifically, MPs questioned whether collecting more data would actually benefit police and disputed the estimates of costs and benefits, calling the latter "fanciful and misleading."