Feeds

UK wiretap watchdog wants MPs tapped

Report casts spotlight on surveillance Britain

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.