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Communications czar to launch inquiry into police data collection

British bobbies might have a collecting hobby
Tue Apr 08 2014, 17:20

UK LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES might be heavy-handed with their authorisations to access private communications data, according to a report.

The annual report by Interception of Communications commissioner Anthony May said that he will launch an investigation into whether, as in the US, boundaries have been overstepped in the collection of data.

In the report presented to Parliament on Tuesday, he spoke of the number of requests for information across departments, some 570,000, saying, "It seems to me to be a very large number. It has the feel of being too many," though the figure had fallen year on year.

He added, "My office is in the process of undertaking an inquiry into whether there might be an institutional overuse of authorisations to acquire communications data."

A statement from the Home Office welcomed the review but told Reuters that communication intercepts played a vital role. It said, "Communications data has played a significant role in every major security service counter terrorist operation over the last decade and is used in 95 percent of all serious and organised crime investigations."

May said that British intelligence has not conducted indiscriminate mass surveillance and does not have "the slightest interest in doing so", which will come as a relief to those concerned that the UK is being monitored in the same way that the NSA has been accused of doing in the US.

"British intelligence agencies do not circumvent domestic oversight regimes by receiving from US agencies intercept material about British citizens which could not lawfully be acquired by intercept in the UK."

Of the warrants issued for interception of data, the majority came from law enforcement, with only 11.5 percent coming from intelligence agencies. µ


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