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Data privacy law: UK government agrees to meet protest groups

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Government officials will meet with civil liberties representatives as part of a consultation it is carrying out into UK data privacy laws.

The move comes after the Home Office previously refused to meet with the groups. The consultation itself was forced on the UK by the European Commission.

The EC had concerns about the impact of controversial data tracker software Phorm after their investigation revealed the UK currently has no consumer protection for anyone who has their email or web traffic monitored without consent. This put the UK in breach of European e-Privacy law.

Civil liberty groups are worried the consultation is being pushed through with the minimum of publicity in an effort to not draw attention to the controversial planned changes to online data privacy laws.

Organisations want to see tough consumer laws in place to protect UK citizens who have their online data collected without their consent.

Open Rights Group, one of the groups set to meet the Home Office, regard the news as an "important victory". On their website they state:

"It is vital that civil society is not 'locked out' of discussions like this, allowing industrial voices to determine the agenda alone."

Apart from the Home Office's u-turn to meet the protest groups, they have also extended the consultation deadline until 17 December 2010.

As the Home Office uses the extra time to ponder what steps to take next and Phorm comes under increasing fire, UK citizens face an uncertain future over online privacy and what laws are in place to protect them.

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