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Nick Clegg: Snooper's Charter 'isn't going to happen'

Not 'while Lib Dems remain in government', anyhow

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Updated Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has strongly rejected Home Office plans to massively ramp up surveillance of Brits' internet activity in a very public rebuttal of Theresa May's proposals this morning.

"The 'Snooper's Charter' isn't going to happen - the idea that there would be a record kept of all your online activity," Clegg told listeners on his weekly LBC radio show. "It won't happen while Lib Dems are in government. Of course we need to support the police, they have significant powers already which I support them in using."

He added:

"This idea of a 'Snooper's Charter' - I think it isn't workable or proportionate," before repeating "it isn't going to happen."

The Register has asked the Home Office what the deputy PM's comments mean for May's redrafted bill, which had been widely expected to make an appearance in the Queen's Speech on 8 May.

A Home Office spokesman told El Reg that May's department would not be commenting directly on Clegg's claims and said that "discussions on the bill are ongoing". When asked if the bill was effectively "dead" as has been claimed by the Lib Dems this morning, the spokesman declined to comment.

He added: "You will see if it appears in the Queen's Speech on 8 May."

It may now be pushed back by a year or even more, meaning that the Home Office spooks and cops could be lobbying for the powers way into 2014 - which is the final year of this Parliament.

A delay to May's bill could also play into the hands of its opponents as it may mean that the Home Office will be forced to open up the plans to proper public scrutiny in a new consultation.

Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, who serves on the home affairs select committee and has been very heavily opposed to the draft bill, told us that the proposed legislation had not simply been delayed. He added: "As you quote 'It isn't going to happen'. [The] HO [Home Office] are, I suspect, not that pleased ..."

When pressed on whether the scuppering of the plans - which have been floated repeatedly by successive governments - would mean that the Home Office would simply continue to lobby for these powers, Huppert told us via Twitter: "I hope they will learn their lesson. They started this in completely the wrong place!" ®

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