HC Deb 15 December 1999 vol 341 c209W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to extend the privacy protection afforded to the Royal Mail to electronic mail correspondence; and if he will make a statement. [101083]

Mr. Straw

[holding answer 6 December 1999]: I have been asked to reply.

Section 1 of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 makes it an offence to intercept a communication in the course of its transmission by post or by means of a public telecommunications system. It therefore provides privacy protection for electronic mail (e-mail) when it is carried on the network of a public telecommunications operator (PTO), but not when it passes over networks which are not operated by a PTO. We recognise the need to extend legal protection to all communications on non-PTO networks. In June 1999, the Home Office published a consultation paper, "Interception of Communications in the UK", which contains the Government's proposals for legislation in this area. I will carry these proposals forward in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill which was announced in the Queen's Speech.