The story appears on

Page A11

August 11, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

UK officials keep eye on e-mails, call records

POLICE, local governments and intelligence services made more than 500,000 requests to access private e-mails and telephone records in the United Kingdom last year, according to an annual surveillance report.

The figures, compiled by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Paul Kennedy, found that about 1,500 surveillance requests were made every day in Britain.

That is the annual equivalent to one in every 78 people being targeted. It included 1,500 approved applications from local councils.

Each request allows public bodies to access data - which includes telephone records, e-mail and text message traffic - but not the actual content of conversations or messages.

"It's about the who, where and when - the time element essentially in directed surveillance," a Home Office spokesman said.

Although slightly down on last year, the total is up more than 40 percent on 2007.

The Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, seized on the figures, saying they "beggared belief," warning that the UK had "sleepwalked into a surveillance state."

"Many of these operations carried out by the police and security services are necessary, but the sheer numbers are daunting," he said.

"The government forgets that George Orwell's '1984' was a warning and not a blueprint."

The Liberal Democrats say only a magistrate should be able to approve a request for surveillance, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The act was introduced in 2000, to take account of technological change. It was extended in 2003 by the home secretary at the time, David Blunkett, to tackle serious crimes including terrorism.

In his report, Kennedy found 595 errors in interception requests last year, including mistakes made by the domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend