Feeds

Top prosecutor warns against growing state power

Urges caution on new surveillance powers

The Power of One Infographic

The country's most senior prosecutor has intervened in the gathering storm over the forthcoming Communications Data Bill by urging "legislative restraint" in coming months.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced last week that laws will be open to consultation in the new year. The security services are demanding massively expanded internet surveillance powers.

Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald warned in a speech yesterday that expansion of state snooping powers was likely to be irreversible. "They will be with us forever," he said. "And they in turn will be built upon.

"So we should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can't bear."

Sir Ken didn't mention the Communications Data Bill by name, but it was clear its proposals, reported here, were among his targets. He said: "Technology gives the state enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each of us, and the ability to collect and store it at will. Of course, modern technology is of critical importance to the struggle against serious crime. Used wisely, it can protect us."

Jacqui Smith said last week that she wants an open, reasoned debate to build consensus around the Bill. Two days later transport Secretary Geoff Hoon argued that not building a government database of all UK communications data would grant terrorists "a licence to kill".

Sir Ken said: "We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom's back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security state."

Summing up his five-year tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken claimed world-beating anti-terror conviction rates, while having resisted the "paraphernalia of paranoia" such as special courts and vetted judges. The full text of the speech is here.

Also yesterday, the Information Commissioner's Office repeated its call for a full public debate around communications data. A spokesperson said: "The Commissioner warned that it is likely that such a scheme would be a step too far for the British way of life. Creating huge databases containing personal information is never a risk-free option as it is not possible to fully eliminate the danger that the data will fall into the wrong hands. It is therefore of paramount importance that proposals threatening such intrusion into our lives are fully debated." ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles
Arrests people allegedly accessing child abuse images online
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
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.
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.