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The government's policy on e-commerce has taken a severe beating from an influential group of MPs after publishing a report calling it a "damaging and embarrassing failure." Such stinging criticism is much more than a metaphorical bloody nose for one of the government's flagship bills announced during the Queen's Speech last year. Following today's unsightly mauling, the government's policy on e-commerce is lying unconscious in intensive care. In a number of key areas, most notably cryptography, the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee said that the government was simply wide of the mark. The committee said: "Inadequate political control has been exercised over the development and determination of cryptography policy." It went on to say it was concerned at the time it has taken to establish and implement such a policy. "[The Select Committee] calls for ministers to take a firm grip of the issues from now on." "The committee is disappointed that the government should still hold a candle for key escrow and key recovery and can foresee no benefits arising from government promotion of either technology," it said. A statement from the Department of Trade and Industry welcomed the report, no doubt through a feeding tube. "We welcome the Select Committee's report on our proposals for electronic commerce and will be studying its recommendations carefully," said DTI minister Michael Wills. ®

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