A 123-page paper that represents a draft of the Communications Data Bill, the United Kingdom’s dreaded online monitoring law, has been published.
As it turns out, every online activity will be recorded and stored by Internet service providers (ISP). That includes emails, browsing history, instant messaging chats, and, of course, social networking.
While the draft leaves a lot of room for abuse, officials believe that the measure is necessary to protect citizens and to catch criminals.
“Communications data saves lives. It is a vital tool for the police to catch criminals and to protect children. If we stand by as technology changes we will leave police officers fighting crime with one hand tied behind their backs,” Home Secretary Theresa May said, according to The Inquirer
“Checking communication records, not content, is a crucial part of day-to-day policing and the fingerprinting of the modern age - we are determined to ensure its continued availability in cracking down on crime,” she added.
Authorities highlight the fact that the data collected doesn’t target the content of communications.
Instead, in the case of emails, information such as the sender's and the recipient's addresses, and in some cases the location of the device from which the messages have been sent or received will be recorded.
The agencies that will have access to this data include GCHQ, MI6, MI5, SOCA, HMRC, and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
So, let’s see what the Information Commissioner’s Office thinks of the Communications Data Bill.
“Ultimately, it is for Parliament to determine whether or not the proposals contained in the draft Bill are a proportionate response to the perceived problem of communications data capability,” an ICO spokesperson said.
“If the Information Commissioner is to be in a position to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act, in respect of security of retained personal information and its destruction after 12 months, the ICO will need appropriately enhanced powers and the necessary additional resources.”