A letter has been published showing Nick Clegg was warned not to jettison the snoopers’ charter by the director of public prosecutions.
The development comes after a poll showing high public support for more draconian surveillance techniques if they help reduce terrorism.
“For cases such as counter-terrorism, organised crime and large-scale fraud, I would go so far as to say that communications data is so important that any reduction in capability would create a real risk to future prosecutions,” Keir Starmer wrote to Clegg, before the deputy prime minister ruled out a snoopers’ charter.
The director of public prosecutions stressed that the current legislative framework had failed to keep up with technological changes.
The emergence of the letter is a shot in the arm to those who want the government to revive the communications data bill in the wake of the Woolwich attack.
The bill – dubbed the snoopers’ charter by the press – would give intelligence agencies access to people’s web browsing history, email exchanges and social media activity.
Supporters say agencies would only know of the existence of messages and when they were sent – so-called meta data – rather than the content, although there are question marks around whether the technology can be limited in that way.
The letter, which was published in the Sun, came to light after an opinion poll conducted by YouGov for the Huffington Post showing the public are generally sympathetic to the prospect of a snoopers’ charter.
Thirty eight per cent of respondents said the proposals went too far but 43% were happy with the plans.
Interestingly, women were more sympathetic than men. Female respondents backed the plans by 55% to 30%, while men backed it by 48% to 46%.
That is a reversal of polling on military engagements, which men typically support more than women.
Civil liberties issues rarely poll strongly with the public and the snoopers’ charter results are actually more limited than those conducted during New Labour’s time in power.
When Tony Blair proposed 90-day pre-charge detention for terror suspects, for instance, only 22% of people opposed it.
Voters also appeared comfortable with the idea of UK agencies working with US agencies to retrieve data about British citizens, with 46% saying they were “pleased that the UK security services are getting information that might help them track down criminals and terrorists”.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said they were “sorry that the UK agencies might be getting round British law to undermine our right to privacy”.
The result may depend on wording. Previous YouGov polling for Liberty found that perceptions of effectiveness are vital to the way voters respond to questions about civil liberties and surveillance.
daily alternative | alternative news – The snoopers’ charter backlash
Police Will Be Able To Read Everyone’s Internet Search History Under New Plan
UK Police are asking the government for new surveillance powers to be able to view the Internet search history of every single person in the country.
Richard Berry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman told The Guardian that “We want to police by consent, and we want to ensure that privacy safeguards are in place. But we need to balance this with the needs of the vulnerable and the victims. We essentially need the ‘who, where, when and what’ of any communication – who initiated it, where were they and when did it happened. And a little bit of the ‘what’, were they on Facebook, or a banking site, or an illegal child-abuse image-sharing website?”
“Five years ago, [a suspect] could have physically walked into a bank and carried out a transaction. We could have put a surveillance team on that but now, most of it is done online. We just want to know about the visit,” he added.
It is likely that police are already looking at your online activity, but just want the power to do it legally. As we learned from whistleblower Edward Snowden, governments are very interested what their citizens are doing online, and they do have the technology to spy on every telephone call and Internet communication.
Police in the UK have been attempting to reach for these powers through legislation for years, but they have been blocked on multiple occasions. This new effort proves that they will not be giving up on getting legal permission for their spying programs.
MP David Davis told The Guardian “It’s extraordinary they’re asking for this again, they are overreaching and there is no proven need to retain such data for a year.”
Home Secretary Theresa May will announce the specifics of the plan during a meeting about the Government’s new surveillance bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
“I’ve said many times before that it is not possible to debate the balance between privacy and security, including the rights and wrongs of intrusive powers and the oversight arrangements that govern them without also considering the threats that we face as a country,” May said.
“They include not just terrorism from overseas and home-grown in the UK, but also industrial, military and state espionage.They include not just organized criminality, but also the proliferation of once physical crimes online, such as child sexual exploitation. And the technological challenges that that brings. In the face of such threats we have a duty to ensure that the agencies whose job it is to keep us safe have the powers they need to do the job,” she added.
daily alternative | alternative news -Police Will Be Able To Read Everyone’s Internet Search History Under New Plan
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