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This page provides occasional items, linked to the original articles, as we attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing situation on civil liberties.
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2002 - 2004

1st Jan to 9th Sept 2005


MPs’ barrage of criticism of “Snooper’s Charter”

A committee set up to scrutinise the coalition’s Draft Communications Bill has finally reported and is highly critical of the bill.

Note that these proposals are the latest incarnation of the intercept modernisation program that the previous Labour government tried to introduced and would require internet service provides to record information about who you communicate with on the web including messages sent via web mail, instant messaging, online chat within video games, etc. The police and other authorities would then get access to this information on their own authority without a warrant. Currently much of this information is not recorded and what is proposed extends mass surveillance of the internet to new degree.

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government has said his party would block the plans unless there was a “fundamental rethink”, whilst the Prime Minister has promised a rewrite.

It seems to me that what should happen here is that the police should be allowed to demand ISPs to record this information about specified individuals or specified accounts, once they’ve persuaded a judge that they need to perform such surveillance to investigate or prevent serious crime. I.e. they should be required to get a warrant. The technological aspect - how deep does the surveillance go - is then down to whether the level of intrusion is necessary and proportionate for investigating/preventing the suspected serious crimes concerned.

However the Home Office is intent on mass surveillance of everyone’s internet activity with the information accessible to the police and other law enforcement authorities via self authorisation.

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