The authorities made more than 500,000 requests for confidential communications data last year, equivalent to spying on one in every 78 adults.
These requests for information have been made under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The Act gives authorities – including councils, the police and intelligence agencies – the power to request access to confidential communications data, including lists of telephone numbers dialled and email addresses to which messages have been sent to. The powers given within the ACT were originally intended to tackle terrorism and organised crime, but it is believed that many of the request have been for crimes as trivial as ‘dog fowling’.
In 2008 promises were made to crack down on the miss use of such powers, but last year of a total 504,073 requests, 1,553 requests for communications data came from 123 local councils.
Sir Paul Kennedy, the interception of communications commissioner, reviews requests made under the Act. Sir Paul reported 595 errors in interception requests last year, including mistakes by MI5 and MI6, the intelligence agencies, where the wrong accounts had been monitored due to administrative errors.
While i am all in favour of laws that help prevent serious crimes like terrorism, i can’t believe that 1 in 78 of us are suspected or terrorism or organised crime, and i would question whether my local council need any such powers at all, and as for organizations such as MI5/6 requesting information on the wrong accounts that is not only beyond believe, but potentially putting lives at risk if they are indeed looking into potential terror suspects.