Feeds

UK Attorney general backs legalising of phone-tap evidence

Cites US wire-tapping success

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Phone-tap evidence could be admitted as evidence in court as the attorney general signals a change in UK Government policy. Lord Goldsmith told The Guardian newspaper that phonetap evidence is a "key tool" that should be used.

Goldsmith, the Government's senior law officer, indicated that the current laws banning wiretap evidence could be changed in a bid to fight organised crime.

"I'm personally convinced we have to find a way of avoiding the difficulties," he said. "I do believe there are ways we can do that. Otherwise we're depriving ourselves of a key tool to prosecute serious and organised crime and terrorism".

Goldsmith is currently on a visit to the US where he has discussied the use of wire-tap evidence with the attorney general there, Alberto Gonzales. "What I'm being told here is that the admissibility of intercept evidence is critical to some of their most difficult cases," he told The Guardian. "They have put the top five mafia bosses in prison as a result of it."

Official government policy is still to maintain the ban on phone-tap evidence, and security services and police have backed the ban amidst worries that investigation techniques would become apparent via the recordings.

Prosecutors have also traditionally worried about the lifting of the ban because of the volumes of material that defendants might request. "We may need help from the legislature and the judges to avoid the agencies being swamped with irrelevant requests," said Goldsmith.

The news of Goldsmith's change of heart comes as 20 Italians, many of them police, were arrested over wire-tap evidence abuse. Phone company security chiefs and police are implicated in a case involving the gathering of surveillance on celebrities, footballers and politicians dating as far back as 1997.

Reports from Italy suggest that the leaking of wire-tap evidence to the press is commonplace in the run up to trials.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.