Feeds

UK wiretap watchdog wants MPs tapped

Report casts spotlight on surveillance Britain

Boost IT visibility and business value

Official figures have revealed that UK law enforcement agencies and other government agencies made 439,000 requests to tap telephones and email addresses in a 15 month period between 2005 and 2006.

A report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the UK surveillance watchdog, reports that 4,000 "errors" were made over the report period. Most concerned less serious slip-ups involving lists of telephone calls and individual email addresses, but 67 involved errors that led to the direct interception of communications, The Times reports.

These errors are "unacceptably high", according to Sir Swinton Thomas, the author of the report.

Alongside intelligence agencies (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ) and police forces, local authorities and bodies such as the Financial Services Authority have the authority to request wiretaps. The 795 organisations authorised to tap communications made 439,000 requests. Interception warrants, where granted, normally run for three months or six months, in the case of investigations involving terrorism.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner's report is the first time the extent of state surveillance activities in the UK has been revealed. The report says the interception of communications played a crucial role in the investigation of the 7 July suicide bombing attack on London's transport system.

Despite his criticism of the accuracy of requests, Sir Swinton wants the prohibition against tapping the communication of MPs and peers to be lifted. The block against interception of communication against parliamentarians has existed for 40 years since MI5 agents carried out illegal surveillance of members of Harold Wilson's Labour government.

Ministers had failed to give a good reason why politicians should be treated any differently from other citizens, Sir Swinton argues. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?