Home > Censorship, Government, Protest, Surveillance > UK Town halls join rush to use the snoopers’ charter.

UK Town halls join rush to use the snoopers’ charter.

By   13th April 2013.    Find Article Here:-

UK Council staff, health and safety inspectors and even Royal Mail want to harness the Government’s proposed “Snoopers’ Charter” to monitor private emails, telephone records and internet use.

It had been thought that only police, intelligence agencies and the taxman would be able to use the Communication Data Act, which will also allow scrutiny of social network sites including Twitter and Facebook.

But dozens of public sector organisations have applied to use the powers. They include nine Whitehall departments, NHS trusts, the Environment Agency, the Charity Commission and the Pensions Regulator. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has argued that the legislation is vital to combat terrorism and other serious offences.

But the Home Office confirmed that it was considering all the submissions made by public bodies.

Dominic Raab (Rex Features)

Dominic Raab, one of 40 Conservative MPs who oppose the legislation, said: “This scheme is Orwellian. Intrusive surveillance powers should be limited to pursuing terrorists, paedophiles and villains – not enabling jobsworth inspectors at the Health and Safety Executive or council busybodies to snoop into the private lives of ordinary citizens.”

Last year the Home Office asked organisations who wanted to be able to use the powers outlined in the Communications Data Bill — which will be included in the Queen’s Speech next month — to submit a “business case”.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request from Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaign body, the Home Office said 36 “groups” had applied, but it counted local authorities and NHS trusts once each, making it unclear how many individual councils or health trusts were involved. Fire authorities, the Food Standards Agency and the Gambling Commission also submitted cases.

The proposed legislation obliges internet service providers to keep all records of their customers’ online activity for 12 months. This includes every email, posting on a social networking site, video or telephone calls over the internet.

Approved bodies would need a warrant for the content of any message to be handed over.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said its officials used such powers rarely and only to help in its criminal investigations.

A Home Office spokesman said that Parliament would make the final decision about which bodies would have access.

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