See the draft bill together with explanatory notes. At a time of supposed financial stringency, the question of this massive cost suddenly does not seem to matter to government. Furthermore, in a democratic society, the necessity for this degree of State intrusion into the communications of every person in the land will be seriously questioned in the weeks and months to come.
Citing the recent sexual grooming case in Rochdale, the Home Secretary Theresa May
told The Sun newspaper: - "I just don’t understand why some criticise these proposals. They must either not get what this data is and how it’s used or just can’t grasp its importance. By trying to stop the police having access to this tool, they are risking both justice and public safety. Conspiracy theorists will come up with ridiculous claims about how these measures infringe freedom."
May's comments were backed by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who wrote in The Times that the powers could be "a matter of life and death". Hogan-Howe has been criticised for his intervention - Daily Mail 15th June. The press release from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is, unsurprisingly, supportive of the need for further powers.
The proposals now merit serious consideration but they are being introduced into a country in which the population is already among the most spied on in the world. CCTV proliferates and the authorities already have extensive powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and under the Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009. Perhaps having a few "conspiracy theorists" around is not necessarily a bad thing.
Telegraph 14th June - Snooping laws will stop paedophile rings, says Theresa May.
Eversheds - Update 14th June - worth reading for greater detail
Earlier 2008 Bill
Other commentaries etc:
Paul Bernal blog - A Police State?