Clause 35 and computer hacking

Police and Justice Bill – two sessions! Apart from the usual rant about Labour centralising power unto the Home Secretary, the danger of abuse to prisoners by the Government’s proposed merger of inspectorates and the appallingly unequal deal we have with America on extradition – the highlight of the day was that little Clause 35 on computer hacking.

Subsequent to my amendment which was intended to have saved innocent IT people being done for hacking – when they were simply (for example) helping people remotely or checking the security and safety of their own systems, the Government realised their error and had put forward an amendment of their own.

I didn’t think it was as good – but good enough according to the industry expert advising me. Even so, the whole episode wasn’t very satisfactory – the Government should have consulted properly on the details of the measures before putting the Bill through Parliament – as they had been advised to do so.

Rather curiously too, given that this was an IT issue and is about putting people’s liberties at risk, I’ve had very, very little lobbying on the issue. It’s not often I wish for more emails in my inbox (!) but I think the online community missed a bit of a trick on this one.

Anyway, in between the sessions the new Evening Standard politico took me off to a Press Gallery lunch. This is where the members of the press invite a guest speaker – today Geoff Hoon, Labour MP and Leader of the House – to speak and answer questions. Each press person invites one MP as their guest – but only the press are allowed to ask questions. Geoff Hoon was very dull. He sort of said he was going to be as he didn’t want to find himself or his answers in the media. So I guess he probably achieved his goal.