Govt rushing internet law, says solicitor

A leading computer lawyer says industry has not been given enough time to respond to the Government's e-commerce proposals.
And he says the industry panel selected to respond on 1 April comes from a “narrow” slice of industry leaders.
Fox Williams partner and council member of the Society for Computers & Law, Nigel Miller, says: “This is a ridiculously short period of time for legislation this important.”
Miller says the Government has selected a narrow corporate panel to respond to the paper. But it is taking submissions from interested parties. Lawyers have already had time to get to grips with European directives on e-commerce.
“Lawyers are looking for a balance,” he says. “Maintaining people's rights of privacy and anonymity on the internet is vital. There should be no impediments to e-commerce and realistic rights for law enforcement authorities consistent with these objectives.”
Key escrow proposals, relating to encryption, have been the most controversial aspect, as competing interests are at stake, says Miller.
Used to scramble internet messages, encryption is often too sophisticated for the Government to break.
The proposed solution,”key escrow”, is to hand over private encryption keys to a “trusted third party”, who would pass them over to police on production of a warrant from the Secretary of State.
Miller says this would have given police unrealistic powers. “It was unworkable. The proposals have not been scrapped but have been made voluntary.”