Feeds

Protection of Freedoms Bill is released

New Bill to curb Old Bill powers laid before Parliament

Security for virtualized datacentres

The long-awaited Protection of Freedoms Bill – aka "the great Repeal Bill" – has been published, to much trumpeting of liberties restored by the Coalition, and a sharp intake of breath from everyone else, who is rapidly reading the small print.

Top of the list of freedoms restored is the right to volunteer without being checked to the nth degree by the state. The much-derided vetting and barring scheme introduced by New Labour is to be rolled back, so current government estimates of 9.3 million individuals needing to be vetted will be reduced by one half or more. In addition, the entire edifice of vetting and criminal records checking will be subject to a review, with hopes that a combined and more effective system will roll out at the end of the process.

The Home Office also announced that:

  • millions of householders are now to be be protected from town hall snoopers checking their bins or school catchment area (a reference to the increasing use of RIPA legislation to check on minor matters);
  • Section 44 powers (under the Terrorism Act 2000), which have been used to stop and search hundreds of thousands of innocent people are to be scrapped;
  • the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects will be reduced to 14 days;
  • DNA samples and fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of innocent people will be deleted from police databases;
  • thousands of gay men will be able to clear their names with the removal of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts; and
  • thousands of motorists will now be protected from rogue wheel-clamping firms.

Other measures brought forward under this Bill include an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent; a shiny new code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (matched by a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner to oversee the code); a sharp reduction in the powers of government and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations; the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury; the liberalisation of marriage laws, allowing people to marry before 8am or after 6pm; and an extension and strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act.

So far, so good. Introducing the Bill to the Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The first duty of the state is the protection of its citizens, but this should never be an excuse for the government to intrude into people’s private lives.

She went on: "I am bringing common sense back to public protection and freeing people to go about their daily lives without a fear that the state is monitoring them."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who had publically identified himself and his party with the cause of the Repeal Bill, said: "This is a landmark Bill which will result in an unprecedented rolling back of the power of the state.

"Freedom is back in fashion – 2011 will be the year that the coalition government hands people their liberty back. I have campaigned for this for many years and I am delighted that we have been able to deliver the Freedoms Bill in government.

"The Protection of Freedoms Bill follows the review of counter-terrorism and security powers and the scrapping of ID cards as the coalition government delivers on its agreement to put traditional British freedoms at the heart of the Whitehall agenda.

"It also drew on views put forward by the public through the radical Your Freedom website set up after the coalition government came to power."

The Protection of Freedoms Bill is being introduced with the aim of gaining Royal Assent by late 2011 or early 2012. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.