‘Snooping’ powers review published

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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A major review of police and security service surveillance powers will be published today.

The report by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, will focus on the interception of communications and communications data.

His review of the operation and regulation of investigatory powers was one of the requirements of legislation fast-tracked through Parliament to maintain the ability of authorities to access telephone and internet data last year.

Issues it is expected to cover include current and future threats to the UK, the challenges of changing technologies, and the effectiveness of existing legislation.

Submitted the day before the general election, Mr Anderson has described the report as a “substantial piece of work”.

His findings and recommendations will take on extra significance after the Government announced plans to introduce new legislation it says will “modernise” the law on communications data.

Ministers say the Investigatory Powers Bill is required to address gaps that are “severely degrading” the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tackle terrorism and other serious crime.

When it was announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Government said the legislation will respond to issues raised in Mr Anderson’s review.

Communications data is the who, when, where of a phone call, text message or email – but not the content of what was said or written.

Legal interceptions involve police or security agencies listening to a specific suspect’s calls or viewing content of emails. They require a warrant signed by the Home Secretary in every case.

The new Bill is seen as a fresh attempt by the Conservatives to furnish security services and police with powers they have repeatedly said they need in the face of changing technology, while there have been warnings that monitoring threats is more difficult in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about surveillance techniques.

In 2013 the Communications Data Bill – labelled a Snooper’s Charter by critics – was shelved after opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

It would have extended the requirement for companies to retain phone and email data to include records of browsing activity, social media use and internet gaming, among other things.

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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