A joint committee of the UK's House of Lords and the House of Commons is preparing to debate a draft bill known as the Snoopers' Charter, a disastrous data retention bill which, as Techdirt explained, "would require ISPs to record key information about every email sent and Web site visited by UK citizens, and mobile phone companies to log all their calls." But before they begin, MPs are doing their homework. In addition to having a public consultation, they are taking oral testimony from a range of stakeholders, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Wales has been an outspoken critic of the Snoopers' Charter from the beginning, characterizing the proposed bill as "technologically incompetent," and comparing it to the tactics of authoritarian regimes: "It is not the sort of thing I'd expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese." In this week's testimony, he went on to say that if the data retention bill were passed into law, he would move to encrypt all of Wikipedia's connections with Britain, forcing the government to resort to the "black arts" in order to gain information about the pages Britons are reading and editing on Wikipedia. He went on to urge other Internet companies to do the same.