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Straw hits back at RIP Bill critics

Confirms reputation for libertarian thinking

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Jack Straw, the home secretary, has hit back at critics of the RIP Bill.

In a letter to today's FT, he dismissed estimates from the London School of Economics that the Bill could lose Britain up to £46 billion in lost ebusiness as "wildly exaggerated".

And he ticked off the FT for giving credence to the LSE report, in an article last Thursday.

"I will wager my next year's salary and multiples of the circulation of the FT that the figures are wrong," he said.

Straw makes a killer debating point when he says the lost revenue estimate is "literally incredible", given that ecommerce currently accounts for just 0.6 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product - around about £5 billion.

The RIP(Regulatory of Investigatory Powers) Bill enables law enforcers to intercept emails and imposes tough penalties on ISPs which fail to comply with onerous compliance rules.

So far as Straw is concerned, RIP is a straightforward law enforcement issue. Crime costs the UK £50 billion a year and criminals are using the Internet to launder some of the proceeds. The police and other law enforcement agencies need the tools to cope with this. And the way the law is right now, email interception is illegal.

Straw says RIP will be used sparingly and judiciously - and points to the successful introduction of "similar legislation" in the Netherlands.

Well then. We can all rest safely in our beds, knowing the government wants Draconian powers, but does not intend to use them. It's all a lot of fuss and nonsense got up by some pesky civil rights activists, some of whom you can find here at Stand. ®

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