Theresa May, the UK’s Home Secretary, has detailed the government snooping bill that plans to monitor all communications of every individual in the UK for 12 months. The Communication Data Bill is being proposed under a “counter-terrorism” initiative that could see every day users lose all rights to privacy and security online.
The bill which has been published in draft form here (PDF), proposes that data such as activity on social network sites, webmail, internet phone calls and online gaming be recorded, in addition to phone records and ISP-based email services, which are already kept for 12 months. Theresa May, defending the bill said:
It’s not about the content, it’s not about reading people’s emails or listening to their telephone calls. This is purely about the who, when and where made these communications and it’s about ensuring we catch criminals and stop terrorists.
The new bill means that police will not need a warrant to see details of the time and place of messages provided they are investigating a crime, but will need a warrant to see the content of the messages. Conservative MP and Theresa May’s colleague, David Davis argued:
The ways around this are legion, the only people who will be caught by this are the incompetent and the innocent.
He gave an example of the July 7th public transport bombings in the UK, in which the bombers used prepaid, newly purchased mobile phones, meaning they could not be traced. Similarly, email addresses could be created at any time, from any internet cafe or wireless access point, making this bill useless in catching true criminals. He also pointed out that during the last government’s reign, the current Prime Minister and conservative backbenchers were against a similar proposed bill.