Friday, April 17, 2009

Restrictions on "snooper's charter"?

The BBC reports that city councils in England and Wales face new restrictions on the use of surveillance powers for minor offences such as dog fouling and littering. The UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows public authorities to intercept phone and e-mail data and use CCTV to spy on suspected criminals. But Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has launched a review after fears it was being used for "trivial" offences.

The Ripa law allows for

  • Interception of communications, such as phone calls and e-mails
  • Acquisition of information from service providers
  • Covert surveillance
  • Use of informants or undercover officers
  • Access to electronic data protected by encryption or passwords