The two Public Consultations on aspects of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 being run by the Home Office formally close today, August 30th 2006.
The Home Office's Covert Investigation Policy Team will probably not reject submissions up until when they present these Draft Codes of Practice to Parliament sometime in the Autumn. [UPDATE no later than 13th September - see below]
If you do not feel like submitting a full response, or if you wish to submit an anonymous one, then please feel free to make use of our two mini-blogs which allow you to comment on each section of these Consultations and Codes of Practice:
- "Consultation on the Revised Statutory Code for Acquisition and Disclosure of Communications Data - Chapter II of Part I of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000"
This seeks to extend the use of Communications Traffic Data to tracing missing persons etc. perhaps even if they want to remain out of touch from those seeking them, even in non-emergency situations and when there is no criminal investigation.
The "consultation" questions about the use of Communications Traffic Data to identify dead people have been pre-empted by Secondary Legislation which was published and rubber-stamped during the Public Consultation period.
Why have the Home Office shown such contempt for the public, and flouted the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Public Consultations in this way ?
- "Consultation on the Draft Code of Practice for the Investigation of Protected Electronic Information - Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000"
This deals with the controversial seizure and forced disclosure (possibly in secret under penalty of 5 years in prison for "tipping off") of either Cryptographic Keys or the Plaintext of whatever they have have been used to protect from snoopers.
There are huge practical implications for the e-commerce, e-government, banking, financial services and telecommunications industries, which could lead to a loss of jobs and investment in the UK economy, as some multi-national companies are forced to move their headquarters and data centres overseas.
The curent legal framework on the validity of Electronic or Digital Signatures will also be affected by this Code of Practice.
There are privacy and civil liberties issues as well. especially regarding the already increased penalty (amended even before RIPA Part III has ever been used) for vague, catch-all "national security investigations" .
The Consultation also asks for views on extending the offence of non-disclosure, entirely on circumstantial evidence and on previous history of convictions, in regard to child porn.
Part III has been on the statute book for 6 years, but has still not yet been brought into force. This Public Consultation implies that it could well be activated in the early part of 2007.
For more information see the speakers' slides from the recent Scrambling for Safety 8 conference
The senior Home Office Civil Servant in charge of these Consultations
Simon Watkin writes on the UK Ctypto email list:
It really doesn't seem like twelve weeks since the Home Office published its consultation paper inviting comments on a draft code of practice relating to the exercise of powers under Part III of RIPA and on proposals for amending section 53. The closing date for the consultation was today (30 August).
Together with my colleague, Graeme McGowan, I am beginning to work through the responses we have received already received.
However, in almost equal number, we have received lots of calls and e-mails asking if it will be OK to submit a late response. We've said that will be fine, as I mentioned at SfS8.
It will be helpful if any further or additional responses can reach us no later than 13 September. After then we can't guarantee we will consider as thoroughly as we undertake to do if they are received within that time.
I hope that's helpful.
Covert Investigation Policy Team
2 Marsham Street
We guess that this also applies to the RIPA Part 1 Chater 2 Communications Traffic Data consultation as well.