IT legislation

UK to publish draft internet monitoring law

Warwick Ashford

The government is to publish details of its controversial plans to make it easier for security and police services to spy on e-mails, phone calls and internet activity.

The Queen's Speech in May revealed that the government would go ahead with the plan, despite opposition from civil liberties groups concerned that it could lead to blanket surveillance.

The government's Communications Bill, to be published in draft form on 14 June, has already sparked controversy and led to tension within the coalition government, according to the BBC.

It has emerged that the government, which has promised "strict safeguards", wants details of internet use in the UK to be stored for a year.

In that time, records of people's activity on social network sites, webmail, internet phone calls and online gaming will be accessible to the authorities.

Communications and internet service providers will be required to share the data about their subscribers, but costs are to be covered by the government.

The government wants details of internet use in the UK to be stored for a year

Home secretary Theresa May said the change is necessary to keep up with how criminals are using new technology, by giving access to data on when calls are made, where and by whom.

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), the current lack of access to details of internet communications is hampering investigations.

But opponents of the plan believe it goes too far, will not be effective in clamping down on those acting with criminal intent, and could reduce accountability and increase risks of abuse.

Although authorities will not be able to monitor the content of phone calls and e-mails without a warrant from a judge, the laws cover social media and internet-based calls for the first time.

Once the draft legislation is published, the government will still have to get the proposals through Parliament in the face of opposition from Lib Dem MPs and some Conservatives.

The draft legislation will be also be scrutinised by a joint parliamentary committee before the legislative process can begin.


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