.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The right to seize phone data

The Telegraph reports on a disturbing development at Britain's borders in which thousands of innocent holidaymakers and travellers are having their phones seized and personal data downloaded and stored by the police.

The paper says that officers use counter-terrorism laws to remove a mobile phone from any passenger they wish coming through UK air, sea and international rail ports and then scour their data. They add that the blanket power is so broad olice do not even have to show reasonable suspicion for seizing the device and can retain the information for “as long as is necessary”. Data can include call history, contact books, photos and who the person is texting or emailing, although not the contents of messages:

David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, is expected to raise concerns over the power in his annual report this week.

He will call for proper checks and balances to ensure it is not being abused.

It echoes concerns surrounding an almost identical power police can use on the streets of the UK, which is being reviewed by the Information Commissioner.

However, in those circumstances police must have grounds for suspicion and the phone can only be seized if the individual is arrested.

Mr Anderson said: “Information downloaded from mobile phones seized at ports has been very useful in disrupting terrorists and bringing them to justice.

“But ordinary travellers need to know that their private information will not be taken without good reason, or retained by the police for any longer than is necessary.”

Up to 60,000 people a year are “stopped and examined” as they enter or return to the UK under powers contained in the Terrorism Act 2000.

Like David Anderson I can see that this is a useful tool in the fight against terrorism but it must be used appropriately and proportionately, be open to challenge and review and be subject to clear rules as to how it it utilised.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?