Tag Archives: Liberties

Phonecalls and texts to be logged by Government

Information about all landline and mobile phone calls made in the UK must be logged and stored for a year under new laws.Data about calls made and received will also be available to 652 public bodies, including the police and councils.

The Home Office said the content of calls and texts would not be read and insisted the move was vital to tackle serious crime and terrorism.

But critics said it was another example of Britain’s “surveillance society”.

The new law, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, was signed off by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in July.

It requires phone companies to log data on every call or text made to and from every phone in Britain.

‘Different uses’

Since 2004, companies have voluntarily provided data, where available, if it was requested, but now they will required by law to retain it for a year.

Minister for Security and Counter-terrorism Tony McNulty told BBC Radio 4 that the data could provide three levels of information, the simplest being about the phone’s owner.

“Say some old lady has got difficulties with someone who’s repaired the gas in her house and has a mobile phone for somebody who’s clearly dodgy,” Mr McNulty said.

“The local authorities can just get the subscriber information next to that number.

“The second level of data is not simply the subscriber, but also the calls made by that phone.

“And the third level which is purely for the security forces, police, etc, is not just the subscriber information and the calls made, but also the calls coming in and location data – where the calls are made from.”

Personal ‘profile’

A person’s location can be pinpointed to within a few feet by identifying the mobile phone mast used to transmit their call.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said people were more concerned than ever about their personal privacy, especially how many bodies had access to their phone records.

“There are actually a very broad range of purposes for which this information about who we’ve been phoning and when can be revealed,” Ms Chakrabarti said.

“It includes, for example, the Gaming Board, the Food Standards Authority and every district and county council in the country.”

She said requests for information would not be limited to those concerning serious crime and national security.

“We’re talking about a profile that can be built of your personal relationships on the basis of who you’ve been speaking to and when.”

Public consulted

Mr McNulty said local councils would only have access to data on “a legitimate and proportional basis”.

“(To say) that all of a sudden anyone and everyone’s information is available, that all these authorities somehow have the right to go fishing and snooping, simply isn’t the case,” he added.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “Once again this government has been caught red-handed creating new surveillance state powers with no meaningful public or parliamentary debate.

The Home Office said the plans had been through a public consultation and said a senior police officer would have to approve any request for phone data.

Councils would only be able to use the powers to “prevent and detect crime – not for the collection of taxes”, the spokesman added.

The new law brings Britain in line with an EU directive on the retention of phone data.

Should the innocent have to hide too?

Last year I saw a film called Taking Liberties and came away feeling that really stuck in my throat that was  a strange mixture of rage, anger and sadness. I’d say the sadness is actually the strongest emotion that I feet overall.
This film was not ‘entertainment’, infact towards the end I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by it all, but it kept me gripped because, unlike most cinema flicks, this is real, this is happening, this is the country I live inright now! As I watched in disbelief I was transformed through anger to rage, through the whole spectrum of emotions by the actions and words of those who we once considered to the be the Servants of Society: our politicians and our police.

 

One by one many of the liberties that we as UK subjects have taken for granted were shown to be no longer reliable. Right to protest, Free speech, Privacy, Inocent until proven guilty, Extradition and Torture were all highlighted and real cases were examined.

The premise of this film is that we are turning in to a police state, if a rather badly organsied one. That somehow police and politicians had become our masters and we their servants. On it’s own that statement can be easily scoffed at. But the evidence was there on screen to see, and it was unnerving and slightly sinister. Using a mixture of police footage and protestor’s footage, a rather peculiar picture began to emerge: police with unprecedented powers unable to control the itch to use these powers.

It was like watching Teineman Square in minature, or a communist state in operation. The comparison to the Nazzi’s was startling, but there was no denying the similarities of method, even if the motive was slightly different.

The laws that have been passed that allow these things to go on, political will and control enacted by the police, may not be used against the innocent so much at this time. But if there comes a day when there are leaders or governments who like the taste of power too much, now there is no stopping them and we are all under suspicion.

Many refer to the erosion of our liberties, and what a great metaphor. Like a cliff face, once the process of erosion starts, it is very difficult to protect further and the land becomes more vulnerable piece by piece until it is swallowed up. For good.

At two hours this film may be too much for many to take, but I really urge you to try it, see it and witness what our country really is like today. And if you think, “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” – then just tread carefully as it might just be your turn next…

What do you think? Leave your comments here.