£12bn snooping database ommitted from Queen's Speech

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£12bn snooping database ommitted from Queen's Speech

Karl Flinders

The Data Communications Bill was a notable omission from the Queen's Speech today whilst the economy took centre stage.

The Queen's Speech outlined the government's legislative programme for the next parliamentary session. A total of 13 bills made the cut from 18 proposed in May.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed the Communications Data Bill in the government's draft legislation programme for 2008/09 in May. It was one of 18 proposed Bills that would have become law if it passed through Parliament.

The Bill would have forced communications companies to keep logs of internet usage and make this information available to the police. A similar law regarding telephone conversations exists.

According to the government the purpose of the Bill was to "allow communications data capabilities for the prevention and detection of crime and protection of national security to keep up with changing technology through providing for the collection and retention of such data, including data not required for the business purposes of communications service providers and to ensure strict safeguards continue to strike the proper balance between privacy and protecting the public."

The government said in October that it will hold a second public consultation on the Bill in the New Year.

This means the government could miss its self-imposed deadline to comply with the European Data Retention Directive by March 2009.

It is also expected to slow the progress of the Interception Modernisation Programme, a scheme to create a centralised database of all electronic communications between everyone in the UK. The government has already spent at least £1bn on the plan, which reports say could cost as much as £12bn.

The Queen's Speech included:

Banking Bill

Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill

Business Rates Supplements Bill

Child Poverty Bill

Children, Skills and Learning Bill

Coroners and Justice Bill

Equality Bill

Health Bill

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill

Marine and Coastal Access Bill

Policing and Crime Bill

Political Parties and Elections Bill

Saving Gateway Accounts Bill

Welfare Reform Bill


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