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Concerns over new surveillance powers

by jamesbaker on 4 November, 2015


The NO2ID campaign  that I am involved in has issued the following press release on the new surveillance powers contained within the investigatory Powers Bill that the Home Secretary has introduced to parliament today.

Some of the main points for me is that in 2014 there were 517,236 requests for people’s communication data. This metadata could include for instance the fact you called alcoholic anonymous or a sexual health clinic (so it can be very personal). Secondly it’s not just the security services, or even the Police who access this data but a whole host of other public bodies. I have a much bigger concern that officials like the tax man, council or parking enforcement officer have access to this information, then I do the secret services who are fighting terrorists. Thirdly its the fact that the vast majority of all this snooping can be done without judicial oversight.

A copy of NO2ID’s press release on the topic can be found below. 

The new draft surveillance bill is like an iceberg, with a vast bulk of technical change obscured beneath the surface, according to civil liberties organisation NO2ID. Theresa May presented the Investigatory Powers Bill to parliament today as a measure “consolidating and updating our investigatory powers, strengthening the safeguards”. But it amounts to a dramatic alteration in the powers already available not just to the intelligence services, but to police, tax inspectors, and officials and regulators in almost every department of state. It replaces several pieces of complex and technical legislation.
Guy Herbert General Secretary for NO2ID, said:

“I would have more sympathy for the Home Secretary if she did not resort to glib hypotheticals about kidnapped children. This is not a proposed bill that is easy to understand or straightforward in effect.”
“The much trumpeted change in oversight focuses on a tiny portion of cases, the handful of warrants issued by Secretaries of State every day. The real issue is the tens of thousands of surveillance actions a day carried out by officials.”

“The Bill is an iceberg. It is easy to focus on the sunlight glinting on a few peaks, it is harder to grasp the important bits beneath the surface. What is clear is that Parliament is expected to deal with all of this before the expiry of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act at the end of 2016 – to swallow the iceberg before its dimensions can be fathomed.”

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