Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill
Viscount Goschen (Conservative)
I support the amendments moved and spoken to by my noble friend Lord Cope. There seems to be little difference of view among all parties who have contributed to this and previous debates in this Chamber and, indeed, among independent commentators and figures from industry about support for the objectives of the Bill.
We all want to prevent crime on the Internet and ensure that the Government have at their disposal the maximum tools reasonable to combat the sort of hideous crimes that we have seen and heard about taking place on the Internet. I do not believe it is possible to do that efficiently without the support of the industry. However, it is clear that high levels of concern are being voiced from all quarters within the industry.
Industry knows more about e-commerce than do the Government, and will continue to do so. As has been stated, the technology is moving extremely fast; faster than the time it will take for the Home Office to consider all the implications. I would also suggest that the competitive balance within this new industry is changing extremely rapidly. National borders present one of the interesting challenges faced by the Internet. Clearly, this is an international industry and an international solution needs to be found.
The amendments tabled by my noble friend do not claim to solve the problem. However, they go some way towards allowing industry a statutory position to contribute to the debate and to ensure that those who seek to regulate the industry do not take precipitate action, or at least advise against that. In the final analysis, the decisions will be with the Government.
I believe that industry genuinely wants to help. It does not want to be associated with a pariah sector known to be a haven for crime. Industry will be in the best position to ensure that government regulations can be made as effective as possible. Clearly, the Bill poses a very real threat to the competitiveness of the e-commerce industry of the United Kingdom. I support the objectives of the Bill. However, mechanisms must be found to ensure that the concerns of industry are minimised, its support garnered and the regulatory regime made as robust as possible. I strongly believe that the amendment will contribute to that.