Tuesday, December 16, 2008

UK surveillance powers to be reviewed

I am delighted to see that the government is to review the use of surveillance powers by local councils. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, passed in 2000 to combat terrorism and serious crime, has recently been used against dog fouling; the employment of paper boys without permits; families living outside school catchment areas; and the unlawful selling of potted plants.

Even better news is a Conservative party pledge to require approval from a magistrate before these powers are used. I do hope my book chapter on the regulation of communications surveillance had some influence on this (since we discussed it over the summer :)

1 comment:

Jock Coats said...

I often come across the comment that this legislation was only intended for terror. In fact it was not. I have still got a copy of a motion I was trying to submit to Oxford City Council in 2002 when the Act was about to be extended to include Local Authorities to require at least elected member oversight of its use.

Whilst it was supposed to be about "serious crime" such as benefits theft and similar, it was quite clear that it was not simply "terror law". After all, it preceded the worst of the terrorist attacks, "9/11" by two years when it was introduced.

Needless to say that the by then Labour city council would not have any truck with oversight of its use, judicial or elected!