Theresa May vows Tory government would introduce ‘snooper’s charter’

Alan Travis reports in the Guardian that Theresa May the Home Secretary has vowed that a future Conservative government will introduce into law the Communications Data Bill, which is often referred to as the Snooper’s Charter.

May criticised the Liberal Democrats for blocking the Communications Data Bill two years ago claiming that:

“If we do not act, we risk sleepwalking into a society in which crime can no longer [be] investigated and terrorists can plot their murderous schemes undisrupted.”

However, the Liberal Democrats rejected May’s claim that their opposition to the “Snooper’s Charter” was putting lives at risk, pointing out that the police can already access communications data when needed.

Met obtained phone records of Sun political editor without consent

Lisa O’Carroll reports in the Guardian that Police investigating the Plebgate saga obtained the telephone records of Tom Newton Dunn, the political editor of the Sun without his consent, despite laws which entitle journalists to keep their sources confidential.

The Sun confirmed that neither Newton Dunn nor the paper knew anything about the intervention of the police.

It appears that the Metropolitan Police used powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) which circumvents a different law under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) that requires police to go to a judge to get disclosure of journalistic material. The Metropolitan Police have refused to disclose how many other times they have used these powers to secretly access journalists phone records.

The incident raises concerns about the threat such activities present to journalistic privilege, confidentiality of sources and the protection of whistle-blowers.

Police want right to see medical records without consent

Vikram Dodd writes in the Guardian that Sir Peter Fahy the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester has said that the Police want new and expanded rights to access medical records and other confidential data without an individual’s consent.

Fahy said that the enhanced access to sensitive data was needed to help Police cope with growing numbers of vulnerable people, such as the elderly, people with dementia, those with drug and alcohol problems and those with mental health problems.   Most controversially though, he said medical professionals should share information about women suffering from domestic abuse, even against the victim’s wishes.

UN Concerned about Mass Surveillance Programmes

The United Nations News Centre highlights UN concerns about the increasing number of Government initiated mass surveillance programmes. It comes in the week that the UK Parliament approved the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (Drip) bill, which makes communication companies store user data.

Launching the report Navi Pillay , the  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that:

“The onus is on the State to demonstrate that such interference is neither arbitrary nor unlawful,” Ms. Pillay said, noting that article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.”

A copy of the report is available here: The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age