Tag Archives: Communications Data Bill

Queen’s Speech: crime-fighting measures announced by UK Government

An Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill has been announced by the Queen in her annual speech to Parliament.

The Home Office will introduce an Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to create new and simpler powers for the police service such that officers can deal with antisocial behaviour, cut crime and continue police reform.

The Bill would tackle the use of illegal firearms by gangs and organised crime groups and provide better protection for victims of forced marriage.

It would also encourage responsible dog ownership by strengthening the law for tackling dogs that are dangerously out of control.

Additionally, it would continue the coalition Government’s programme of police reform by extending the powers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Communications Data Bill: what next?

The Queen’s Speech had been due to include the Communications Data Bill. Dubbed the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ in some quarters by opponents, this would have allowed the monitoring of UK citizens’ online and mobile communications.

However, the plans published by Home Secretary Theresa May were recently blocked by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on civil liberties grounds despite warnings such legislation is desperately needed to help detect terrorism plots.

BBC News states: “The Government is now considering forcing Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to store more data about the devices from which e-mails, Skype calls and other messages are sent to help police identify the sender, if necessary. The Home Office had previously rejected this option (which may not need new legislation in order for these plans to be implemented) on technical and cost grounds.”

The BBC continues: “Fresh proposals to investigate crime in cyberspace are being promised…” to “…help protect the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.”

The major strand of this plan is to find a way to more closely match Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to individuals in order to identify who has sent an e-mail or made a call.

The BBC states: “Despite Nick Clegg’s objections to the Communications Data Bill, the Home Office has said action is needed to reflect the fact criminals are increasingly using Internet phone calls or social media websites to communicate.”

Helping to keep the public safe

The BBC report continues: “In the Briefing Notes on the Queen’s Speech, the Government makes clear it remains ‘committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public and ensure national security'”.

“These agencies use communications data – the who, when, where and how of a communication, but not its content – to investigate and prosecute serious crime,” say the Briefing Notes.

“Communications data helps to keep the public safe – it is used by the police to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and to save lives.”

“This is not about indiscriminately accessing the Internet data of innocent members of the public.”

“The proposals to be brought forward would address the fact the police – who can already tell when, where and who made a mobile phone call or sent a text message – cannot always trace the origin of an e-mail, a message sent via instant messaging or a phone call made over the Internet.”

“The Government says one problems is that IP addresses are shared between a number of people, or devices.”

“In order to know who has actually sent an e-mail or made a Skype call the police need to know who has used a certain IP address at a given point in time,” says the Government.

“The Government says it is ‘looking at ways of addressing this issue… it may involve legislation'”.

“There have been questions raised about how, or whether, it might be possible to achieve the goal of matching IP addresses more closely to devices or individuals.”

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