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UK govt makes very stupid Bill decision

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The government has voted not to change a forthcoming Bill on the private security industry that threatens to include systems admins in new licensing legislation.

The Bill has gained more and more detractors after its unnecessarily broad drafting has accidentally included IT security consultants when it was aimed purely at physical security staff such as bouncers and wheel-clampers.

The Bill plans to set up a licensing system for such people, thereby safeguarding a booming and unregulated market. However by failing to discern between "physical" security and any other forms of security, the Bill has involved large sections of people that the legislation was never intended to include.

It seemed - especially when the CBI became involved - that when the Bill was going through the committee stage the government would simply improve the wording and solve the whole problem. But the government has actively chosen to keep the legislation as is.

The argument from the government side is that even though the Bill covers people that it wasn't its intention to include, it doesn't have any plans to legislate against IT folk in particular and so they shouldn't be worried. This logic withstands about three seconds worth of thought. By the same token, why not simply produce Bill for every UK citizen every time with the assurance that they will only enforce it against people they choose? A nonsense.

The Bill will now go to the report stage and a third reading before it becomes law.

The fight isn't over - the CBI feels that the legislation goes against a European directive - but it wasn't a fight, merely a consultation, before this point.

Caspar Bowden of the government watchdog to deal with Internet matters, FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research), had this to say: "The Minister says the industry is not under threat of licensing, but in the same breath says activities which are routine for many types of IT personnel are caught by the Bill, and unspecified 'further action' may be required. If there is no threat, why not amend the Bill?"

And as a worrying aside, the minister behind this Bill, Charles Clarke, is the self-same minister that was behind the widely hated RIP Act that gives police unprecedented powers to snoop on individuals. ®

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