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UK gov runs up white flag over snoopers' charter

Home Secretary comes over suspiciously reasonable

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The UK government has run up the white flag over the proposed 'snooper's charter' extensions to RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act). Last week it intended to put these extensions before parliament today, yesterday it was going to do it next Monday, and today Home Secretary David Blunkett admits he goofed, and is at time of writing telling BBC news, "when you're in a hole stop digging."

We at The Register cannot help musing that Blunkett's uncharacteristically (for this government) graceful and honest climb-down might have something to do with who wants to be Prime Minister after Mr Tony. But we're cynical, ignore us.

Anyway, Blunkett is now putting the measures on what is effectively indefinite hold, saying they will return after reconsideration and public debate. Given the level of outcry and scrutiny that was triggered by the initial move, it seems inevitable that at the very least the list of bodies that were due to be given access to personal data will be pruned dramatically.

However, civil liberties campaigners may (and surely, must) press home the advantage they've gained through a surprisingly instant and spectacular victory. By keeping government snooping in the public eye they stand a good chance of belatedly reopening the whole RIPA debate. RIPA itself being in all probability unworkable and unenforceable could be a help there... ®

Related stories:
UK snoop charter: we're already getting all the data anyway
Snoops a go-go: UK gov goes mad on privacy invasion

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