According to BBC party sources, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is set to oppose the controversial draft Communication Data Bill. This decision is suspected to coincide with the release of a report on the Bill which is written by a parliamentary committee of MPs and Peers.
Should Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats oppose the Bill, the Conservatives may find it difficult to pass the legislation through Parliament. Conservative MP, Dominic Raab, said that he would personally oppose the Bill while claiming “There are fundamental issues of necessity, principle, cost and viability that remain unanswered”
Labour has not yet committed to supporting the Bill and their Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, claimed “the Government still needs to do more to reassure the public and to get the balance right”
The Communication Data Bill intends to strengthen the ability for government security services to monitor online activity in order to prevent serious crimes such as terrorism. The current draft of the bill would require data telecoms firms within the UK to store users’ communication data for up to a year. The data that they would have to archive would include the time, sender, receiver and location from where a message was sent. These messages would include emails, social media interactions, voice calls and even communications made over multiplayer games.
Access to this data would be restricted to the Police, Serious and Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and the intelligence agencies. The authorities would require no permission or warrant to view basic details about the communications; however the permission of a judge would be necessary if the authorities wish to view the contents of a message.
Should the Bill make the current 2014 date quoted by the BBC’s Home Office sources, it may also face technical difficulties in its implementations. For example, the Bill may force companies to incur extra costs in having to store this communications data. Should the government undertake the collection of data itself, it may face problems when trying to archive sites that use encryption technology such as HTTPS. Twitter currently has HTTPS as default and Facebook recently announced that they would follow suit.