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UK communications data surveillance demands rise

Not all hit their targets
Fri Jul 19 2013, 09:59
The UK has seen an increase in comms data requests

A REPORT HAS REVEALED that UK law enforcement agencies are making an increasing number of communications data demands.

The report, called the 2012 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (PDF), has been presented in Parliament and published by the House of Commons.

It reveals that the number of law enforcement data demands have grown to 570,000 surveillance requests in 2012. These are "lawful interceptions" that are carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

The commissioner and his staff are expected to oversee each warrant, discussing some with legal advisers should that be indicated.

We can't help but think that they must work Sundays, as 570,000 of anything sounds like a heck of a lot to go through in a year. Commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy said that mistakes have been made, 979 in total.

"During the reporting year public authorities as a whole, submitted 570,135 notices and authorisations for communications data. The intelligence agencies, police forces and other law enforcement agencies are still the principal users of communications data," said the report.

"It is important to recognise that public authorities often make many requests for communications data in the course of a single investigation, so the total figure does not indicate the number of individuals or addresses targeted. Those numbers are not readily available, but would be much smaller."

The increase works out to be 15 percent year on year, and Kennedy said that there has been an increased demand for internet data and a spike around the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

The bulk of requests, 57 percent are for subscriber data information, 28 percent are for traffic data, and five percent are for service use data. The remaining 10 percent are a combination of all three.

Where communications data requests have misfired and the wrong people were put under surveillance, six members of the public were affected. Kennedy said that this was regrettable.

The number of errors made by senior responsible officers has also increased, from 36 percent to 47 percent. µ


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