What does it actually mean
to you and I as private or business Internet users?
Companies holding data on a
private virtual network across the public Internet, or having private
communications between individuals sent across the Net, may be monitored without
their knowledge to monitor deals "in the interests of the economic
well-being of the United Kingdom".
So you encrypt
communications to avoid eavesdropping, but the police could demand that you pass
on keys to any of your encrypted data. Government claim this defends against
criminal acts, preventing drug barons, child pornographers and terrorists from
using encryption to avoid paying for their crimes.
Ironically, this Bill
guarantees that they will. Criminals who encrypt their data, and refuse to hand
over the key, can only be punished to a maximum of two years. While you or I
won't risk imprisonment because nobody believes we lost our passcode!
Such measures could
potentially damage the competitiveness of British e-business, and destroy
confidence in the use of the Net for confidential business communications.
A spokesperson from the
Office of the e-Envoy, said: " We too are keen to ensure that the Bill does
not have an adverse effect on the development of e-commerce in the UK and we are
keeping in close touch with those in the Home Office who are engaged in the
" I can assure you that we are not complacent about the issues involved, and we
will be examining these further in conjunction with the Home Office and the