Feeds

Home Office extends online snooping laws

About-face on civil liberty assurances

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The Home Office is to perform an about-face on what the authorities are entitled to do with electronic communications data captured through the RIP Act.

It is looking increasingly likely that The Home Office will award itself the power to gather:

  • Your email addresses
  • The Web sites you visit
  • Details of people you email
  • The ISP(s) you use
  • Your location according to a mobile phone and other details, if the Government believes it is detecting crime and disorder, protecting public health and safety, collecting tax or there is an issue of national security.

According to The Guardian, the Home Office is trying to disassociate itself from several offical assurances that data captured under the Act will only be used for serious criminal cases.

Now it appears that captured data may be used for minor offences, and extensions sought after the 11 September attacks will not be restricted just to anti-terrorist activities - as Home Secretary David Blunkett strongly suggested it would be just a fortnight ago.

The RIP Act allows for the collection of data - without a court order - for detecting crime and disorder, protecting public health and safety, collecting tax, and in cases of national security.

Such a wide definition has provoked heavy concerns since the Act became law last year. The deciding factor, however, has always been the associated Code of Practice for the Act, which is supposed to provide a practical guide to how the Act can be enforced.

The Code has been delayed time and again as civil servants have tried to encompass contradictory laws - including the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act - as well as civil liberties concerns. It was eventually put out to public consultation in August this year with a final deadline date of 2 November.

But then of course the 11 September attacks happened and the last few weeks have seen several ambiguous statements from the Home Office over extensions on how much data ISPs will be required to record and how long they will have to hold it.

(The Home Office has emphasised each time that this is a "voluntary" requirement for ISPs - but let's be realistic here for a second, what UK ISP in its right mind would get in the way of the government? Plus the Home Office has suggested it will also give itself new powers to enable it to force ISPs to comply with the voluntary agreement - you couldn't make it up.)

This in turn has led to all sorts of speculation in the Internet community over what the Home Office is cooking up.

Simon Hughes, LibDems home affairs spokesman, told The Guardian: "We understand the argument for data retention for specific purposes under terror legislation for the period of an emergency. There is a different argument, with much less justification, for general powers from now, in theory, until eternity."

The Home OFfice's Anti-Terror Bill, drawn up following 11 September is due to be heard in the House of Commons home affairs select committee. ®

Related Link

Guardian article today

Related Stories

RIPA Code of Practice goes out to public consultation
RIP Bill - full coverage up to July 2000
Criminal Law Review tears strips off RIP Act
Spooks cock snooks at RIP oversight
RIP not a problem thanks to police stupidity
Email snooping row kicks off again
Email snooping code of practice delayed
Employer snooping code: don't eavesdrop on staff

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.