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Snoopers' Charter

Emergency phone and internet law to be introduced to combat threat of terrorism


Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing to introduce emergency laws to ensure police and security services can continue to access phone and internet records. He believes the legislation is necessary to protect Britain against security threats caused by Syria and Iraq. In a highly unusual move the emergency bill will be rushed through Parliament in a matter of days – a process that usually takes several months.

The government says it was forced to act after the European Court of Justice struck down an EU directive (EU legislation aimed at harmonising law of members states which becomes effective once domestic law is passed to implement it) in April requiring phone and internet companies to retain communications data on the grounds it infringed human rights. This lead to concern that telephone and internet companies were being threatened with legal action by campaigners if they did not start to destroy data, some of which might be vital to criminal investigations.

Not everyone is convinced by the government’s arguments though. Civil liberties campaigners have argued that the emergency laws will infringe people’s privacy. Some commentators have also raised concerns about the speed with which the law is being passed and whether this may mean it is not subject to sufficient scrutiny.

The government’s proposals raise the question of whether potentially having our privacy invaded is a price worth paying to ensure national security.

11 July 2014

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