UK: Home Office plans new surveillance measures
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Deutsch: UK: Innenministerium plant neue Überwachungsmaßnahmen
The Communication Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) proposed by UK coalition, meant to extend the police’s access to individuals' email and social media traffic data, is facing strong criticism from the opposition and civil liberties campaigners.
CCDP is likely to be part of Queen's speech on 9 May and relies on ISPs to gather the information and allow government intelligence operatives to scrutinise it. "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” said the Home Office spokesman.
An attempt to introduce a similar system has been previously made by the Labour Party but was dropped in 2009 after concerns regarding the feasibility of such a project had been raised by ISPs and mobile phone operators.
Civil liberties campaigners have strongly criticised the new plan because of the risk that it could breach the privacy of individuals. Also Mr.David Davis, the former Conservative shadow home secretary, considers it unnecessary and likely to generate high public resentment. Davis believes the provisions of RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) are already "too loose", therefore more than enough. "It's going to cause enormous resentment. Already thousands of people on the web are objecting to it. It was dropped by the last government … if it was so important, they should have kept going last time," added Davis.
"We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications," stated the Home Office spokesmen.
But Davis also drew the attention over the fact that the argument of the government that CCDP does not imply access to the content of communications was false as, in the case of the Internet, a web address was content.
According to Privacy International, what the new proposal is seeking is to require that Google, Facebook and other providers grant government agencies the same type of access to data that Communication Service Providers provide. This would place new regulatory burdens upon them and could set a dangerous precedent for other governments. A second aspect is that of the installation of black boxes with ISPs, to monitor and store all communications data, which will bring serious safety concerns.
Moreover, these black boxes, in order to access the communications data, must intercept all communications streams which are considered as “content” by law and this is in contradiction with the government statements. The boxes may have to reconstruct your browsing session in order to identify your email addressees.
EDRi-member Open Rights Group also raised another important issue - the fact that government would logically have to break encryption to read the communications data it wants to access as, especially with the government reading the traffic, the sites will be very keen to encrypt the information. For businesses and commerce encryption is a vital tool.
A spokesperson for the Commission commented on 5 April 2012 that UK Government’s plans to monitor emails would potentially be incompatible with the right to privacy of UK citizens.
In 2011, the Commission referred the UK to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) because the privacy of Internet users in the country was not being adequately protected, leading to amendments to RIPA which now states that it is generally only legal to intrude on private communications if you have a warrant or the consent of both the sender and recipient of information.
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