UK gov't told to rethink data surveillance plan

Dec 11, 2012 by Jill Lawless

(AP)—British lawmakers on Tuesday demanded the government water down plans to keep track of phone calls, email and Internet activity—a bill critics dub a "snooper's charter."

The Communications Data Bill would force telecoms service providers to retain for a year records of all phone and email traffic and website visits, though not the content of calls and messages.

The data on billions of emails, tweets, texts, calls and Internet hits would be available to police forces, the National Crime Agency and the revenue and customs service. The bill as it stands gives the government the power to extend that access to other agencies.

Home Secretary Theresa May has called the proposals "sensible and limited" measures to prevent crime and terrorism.

But an all-party parliamentary committee scrutinizing the legislation said the draft bill was "overkill and ... much wider than the specific needs identified by the ."

The committee said the bill would give the home secretary—Britain's interior minister—powers to order to disclose "potentially limitless categories of data."

"There is a fine but crucial line between allowing our law enforcement and ' access to the information they need to protect the country, and allowing our citizens to go about their daily business without a fear, however unjustified, that the state is monitoring their every move," said the committee's chair, Conservative peer David Maclean.

The proposals have split Britain's , which contains both law-and-order minded Conservatives and members of the Liberal Democrats, who campaigned on a promise to curb government intrusion and protect .

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the , said the law required a "fundamental rethink."

"We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board," he said.

Security Minister James Brokenshire, a Conservative, said the government would amend the legislation in an attempt to get it through Parliament.

"We know that there is work that needs to be done and I absolutely accept that," he told BBC radio.

Explore further: US official: Auto safety agency under review

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

British PM faces backlash over 'snooping' plans

Apr 02, 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a growing backlash from within his own party over plans to extend the government's powers to monitor people's email exchanges and website visits. ...

Canada unveils new cyber monitoring rules

Feb 14, 2012

Canada's government Tuesday introduced a bill to give law enforcement authorities sweeping powers to probe online communications, but the move sparked criticism about threats to privacy.

British government backs down over database plan

Apr 27, 2009

(AP) -- The British government said Monday it wants communications companies to keep records of every phone call, e-mail and Web site visit made in the country. But it has decided not to set up a national database of the ...

Greater email privacy won't hinder law enforcement

Nov 29, 2012

(AP)—Legal experts say Senate legislation billed as a major step forward in protecting the privacy of electronic communications won't keep law enforcement agencies from combing through inboxes if they believe a crime has ...

Recommended for you

US official: Auto safety agency under review

20 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Christian Bale to play Apple's Steve Jobs

Oct 23, 2014

Oscar-winner Christian Bale—best known for his star turn as Batman in the blockbuster "Dark Knight" films—will play Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic.

How to find a submarine

Oct 23, 2014

Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, The Bedford Incident, We Dive At Dawn: films based on submariners' experience reflect the tense and unusual nature of undersea warfare – where it is often not how well ...

Government ups air bag warning to 7.8M vehicles (Update)

Oct 22, 2014

The U.S. government is now urging owners of nearly 8 million cars and trucks to have the air bags repaired because of potential danger to drivers and passengers. But the effort is being complicated by confusing ...

User comments : 0