RealTime IT News

Parliamentary Committee Condemns E-Commerce Bill

The House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee Wednesday severely criticised the forthcoming Electronic Commerce Bill, saying that the focus on key escrow has been "a blind alley" that has damaged the UK's reputation for e-commerce.

Now that the hardline policy on key escrow has been dropped, the Committee in its report has even questioned whether there is still a need for such a bill.

The Trade and Industry Committee Wednesday released the report in printed form at 11.30 a.m. and on the Internet at 3.30 p.m. It comes just two days after the London School of Economics proclaimed the UK as a world leader in e-commerce, with companies such as Tesco and BT showing the way.

An advisor to the government told uk.internet.com last night that a "softly, softly" approach to the issues surrounding key escrow and key recovery was now the policy being followed. Even this has not pleased the Committee, which says in the report that it is "disappointed that the government should still hold a candle for key escrow and key recovery and can foresee no benefits arising from government promotion of either technology."

For dealing with computer crime, the report's authors say that the government should consider establishing a special law enforcement resource unit. However, it also says that the proposed licensing criteria for Trusted Service Providers were fatally flawed and were "not fit to be written into law." They would, says the committee, be "a damaging and embarrassing failure."

The 400-page report has been published after extensive consultation with e-commerce experts, civil liberties groups and law enforcement agencies.