The Liberal Democrats have welcomed Theresa May’s announcement that action to match IP addresses to individuals will be included in the upcoming package of counter terror measures.
The measure will help the police to identify individuals by matching them to the computers and mobile phones they are using.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for action to match IP addresses when he blocked the illiberal Snoopers’ Charter – the Communications Data Bill – in April 2013. The Bill would have allowed security services to access records kept of every website you visit and who you communicate with on social media sites.
The inclusion of IP address matching in the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill shows that the much wider and disproportionate proposals in the Snoopers’ Charter will not be resurfacing under the Coalition Government.
The Liberal Democrats are in favour of action on IP address matching and have been since it was recommended by the Joint Committee that did the pre-legislative scrutiny on the Communications Data Bill. The committee said the proposals were the only part of that Bill that did not reduce civil liberties.
The Home Office had gone quiet on the issue of IP address matching until it resurfaced as a result of deeply misleading claims made in Theresa May's Conference speech. May accused the Liberal Democrats of putting children’s lives at risk by blocking the Snoopers’ Charter, citing cases dropped by the National Crime Agency. In fact it was the failure to match IP addresses that led to the failure of those cases.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “It is good news that the Home Office has finally got round to producing proposals on this after being repeatedly asked by Nick Clegg. These can now be agreed and acted on in the upcoming Bill.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that we need to take action on, rather than proposing an unnecessary, unworkable and disproportionate Snooper’s Charter. There is absolutely no chance of that illiberal Bill coming back under the Coalition Government – it’s dead and buried.
“The issue of IP address matching only resurfaced as a result of deeply misleading claims made in Theresa May's Conference speech. That is what has prompted the Home Office to stop sitting on their hands.
“This announcement is welcome news but comes after months of Conservative foot dragging. They always bang on about new security powers but have done nothing about IP addresses since we called for it in Spring 2013.”