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Europe to investigate legality of RIP

British Govt's anti-free speech chickens coming home to roost

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Britain's big brother email snooping law - RIP - could be in breach of European privacy legislation.

The legality of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act is currently being investigated by the European Commission on four separate counts, according to information released today.

It could even be in breach of the Treaty of Rome - a central plank of Europe's legislation.

Replying to a parliamentary question tabled by British Lib Dem Euro-MP, Diana Wallis, European Commissioner Liikanen said: "The Commission is currently examining the Act to determine if it is compatible with the provisions of several Community dispositions."

Ms Wallis wanted to know whether measures such as email interception along the lines of that covered in the RIP legislation were "unacceptable measures on the basis that they are a breach of the right to privacy and free speech."

"The irony is that this Act was put forward by the Government supposedly to implement part of an EU Directive on Data Protection - actually protecting citizens from intrusion," said Ms Wallis

"But the Government has chosen to concentrate on the possible exception to when data protection applies - to give itself and its agents wide investigatory powers to tap and intercept communications.

"It looks as though it might have gone too far and it will be Europe who acts as the citizens' guardian and
champion against a government seeking inappropriate powers," she said.

However, even if RIP is found to be in breach of European law it could take years of legal wrangling to change it. ®

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