The Home Office will speak with consumer groups over Internet privacy laws after previously refusing to do so as part of a consultation into UK interception laws. The European Commission found the UK in breach of the European e-Privacy directive following findings that UK citizens had no legal redress if they thought their web browsing or e-mail had been monitored unintentionally. With Europe forcing the consultation, we could see changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA) which may force companies to change how they monitor their customers.
"When the consultation started in November we heard about it through the grapevine rather than a public announcement. We wrote to the Home Office saying they needed to meet with representatives from civil society because the law was about individual rights.
We were told that the Home Office was only consulting those directly affected, ie those who might get punished, ignoring the fact that those most directly affected are the general public. The consultation is about a very serious matter. What rights should we have as citizens to take legal action against people who intercept our communications? Should criminal as well as civil charges be available? Who should investigate?"Jim Killock, (Chief Executive) Open Rights Group
This could turn out to be a big win for consumers who were subjected to unlawful interception through the Phorm service which BT trialled without users consent, as a clear opt-in is likely to be required for similar systems in the future. Companies who act in breach will also be subject to sanctions for any unlawful interception. More details can be found on the Home Office site which details the proposed amendments.