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[FYI] (Fwd) FT 5/5/2000: "Business lobbies against e-mail intercept
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From: "Caspar Bowden" <email@example.com>
To: "Ukcrypto \(E-mail\)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FT 5/5/2000: "Business lobbies against e-mail intercept plans"
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9C&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=IXLZHNNP94C UK groups attack e-mail
plans By Carlos Grande and Jean Eaglesham Published: June 4 2000
23:45GMT | Last Updated: June 5 2000 09:41GMT
INTERNET FEARS THAT COMPANIES MAY FACE LIABILITY CLAIMS:
Business leaders have launched a last-minute campaign - against
controversial government proposals on intercepting e-mail - to prevent
companies being exposed to potentially huge liability claims.
The British Chambers of Commerce warns that the measures could leave
City firms liable to civil suits for damages resulting from
interception of documents.
The BCC is pressing for significant changes to the regulation of
investigatory powers bill to protect companies. The Alliance for
Electronic Business, a cross-industry group which includes the
Confederation of British Industry, is also calling for companies to be
indemnified against the risk.
The lobbying reflects mounting criticism that the bill is being rushed
through parliament without scrutiny of its long-term impact on
internet use by businesses. Concerns over the bill - now before peers
- have come from the Post Office, Sun Microsystems, Internet Service
Providers' Association and the government's former adviser on
All support the Home Office's attempts to tackle use of electronic
encryption among criminals. But they have criticised wide-ranging
powers for police and government officials.
These require internet service providers to be able to intercept, on
behalf of law enforcement agencies, any electronic messages they
carry. They will also compel businesses or individuals to provide, on
request, un-scrambled electronic documents or the software "keys" used
to encode them.
Anyone failing to comply faces up to two years in jail and there is a
similar "tipping off" penalty for revealing that a key request was
made. Individuals claiming they had lost, forgotten or never knew
their key would have to prove this - a reversal of the usual burden of
The BCC believes that banks or law firms that surrender keys used to
encrypt private client documents would be at risk from damages suits
for breach of confidentiality.
It wants law enforcement agencies to be made "clearly liable in civil
law" for damages resulting from misuse of a surrendered key.
The Alliance for Electronic Business is also asking for a government
compensation scheme for internet service providers against similar
Chris Humphries, director-general of the BCC, said: "We are passing
this legislation in London, where the financial services sector is
crucial to the economy, as is the whole issue of trust between banks
"If we don't amend the bill to avoid exposing UK companies and their
clients to risk, other countries will use this as a marketing ploy to
lure business away
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