Is Britain turning into a government surveillance state? That would seem to be the implication in annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, which states that in 2008 authorities made over half a million requests to intercept communications, up 44% on two years before.
That’s 1,400 e-mail and phone calls accessed every day, or the correspondence of one in 78 British adults.
The report was made public by the Liberal Democrat party, and their Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne, said:
“It cannot be a justified response to the problems we face in this country that the state is spying on half a million people a year.”
“The government forgets that George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, and not a blueprint. We are still a long way from living under the Stasi but it beggars belief that is necessary to spy on one in every 78 adults.
“The huge rate of phone tapping is all the more baffling when Britain is one of the few countries that will not allow intercept evidence in court, even in terrorist cases."
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), public bodies can access confidential communications.
The Home Office responded:
“These powers can make a real difference in delivering safer communities and protecting the public — whether enabling us to gain vital intelligence that will prevent a terrorist attack, working to tackle anti-social behavior or ensuring that rogue traders do not defraud the public.”
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