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Parliament is today debating plans which will massively extend Government snooping powers in Britain.

If adopted, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill would give the Government the green light to snoop on private emails and mobile phone conversations.

Those backing the Bill say the new measures simply bring new communication technologies in line with regulations governing traditional telephony services.

STAND.org.uk e-democracy campaigner Danny O'Brien said: "This Bill contains ill-conceived proposals that will seriously damage UK ecommerce, as well as threaten some basic civil liberties.

"Since the Government is trying to rush this legislation through Parliament, we decided to use the Internet to speed up our campaign to amend the worst bits of the Bill," he said.

STAND.org.uk has set up a WebFax service to enable Net users to lobby their MP against the Bill. Follow the link above and you can participate in this exercise in mass democracy.

Yaman Akdeniz, director of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), said: "The RIP Bill is complex in nature and with its current state, there remains serious problems with its compatibility with the Human Rights Act 1998.

"If enacted in its current form, it would only establish an intimidating environment for the legitimate use of encryption products by the UK citizens.

"Such legislation would no longer be compatible with the government policy to make Britain the best place for ecommerce and network development. The RIP Bill would be the first step towards the creation of a very hostile place for network development.

"We cannot support such proposals, which we believe would be a serious curtailment of important and well-established civil rights," he said.

Today the House of Commons is engaged in the second reading of the RIP Bill. The Government hopes it will become an Act by October 2000. ®

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