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Government spooks want more internet and mobile data to fight crime

Can't get enough data from spying on Facebook chats alone
Wed Feb 06 2013, 16:00

GOVERNMENT SPOOKS need access to more data such as internet traffic and mobile phone calls to fight crime and terrorism, the head of MI5 has said.

Speaking to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament, Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5 said that accessing communication data (CD) is proving difficult and changes in laws are needed to address this.

"In general, it is becoming more difficult to be confident that you are getting CD coverage of the targets that we need to look at, and therefore from our point of view the ability to go some way at least to future-proofing our access to CD is very important," he told the ISC.

Evans was speaking to the ISC as part of its report on the draft Communications Bill that is being debated.

The committee said it was concerned by these points, and recognised the importance of improving the ability of government spies to access key information.

"We believe that the decline of available communications data will begin shortly to have a serious impact on the intelligence and security agencies," it said.

However, it also agreed that more clarity is needed on the extent of the plans, as in their current form they are too vague and that understandably is causing concerns.

"We strongly recommend that more thought is given to the level of detail that is included in the Bill, in particular in relation to the Order-making power," it said.

"Whilst the Bill does need to be future-proofed to a certain extent, and we accept that it must not reveal operational capability, serious consideration must be given as to whether there is any room for manoeuvre on this point.

"Parliament and the public will require more information if they are to be convinced."

On the point of the order-making power, which would grant powers to the secretary of state to require firms such as BT or Virgin Media to generate and retain communication data, it said more thought must be given to this in order to allay public fears of unnecessary monitoring.

This would relate to information including "IP address subscriber details, data identifying which internet services or websites are being accessed; and data from overseas CSPs (communication service providers)".

Opposition to the Communications Bill is already fierce, with many MPs and civil liberties groups lining up to take aim at the proposals when the bill was first unveiled. µ


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