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UK Internet 'spy' plan condemned

UK Internet 'spy' plan condemned

LONDON, England -- A proposal for all Internet activities and telephone calls made by Britons to be recorded and monitored by British intelligence services has been attacked by civil rights campaigners.

In a report to the British government, spy agencies MI5 and MI6 and the police jointly request new legislation requiring communication service providers (CSPs) to log their traffic and keep the details for seven years.

The proposals, drawn up by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), suggest that the log would help the fight against cybercrime, paedophile rings, terrorism and drug trafficking.

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But civil liberties campaigners say such powers would breach the country's human rights and data protection laws and could see Britain hauled before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The director of Liberty, John Wadham, said: "The security services and the police have a voracious appetite for collecting information about our private lives, but this is an extraordinary idea."

"This would violate the principles of (Britain's) Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act and the government should reject this idea now."

'Vital' for justice

The Home Office, the government department responsible for domestic security, confirmed it had received the report but a spokeswoman said no decisions had been made relating to the proposals.

"There are no plans to implement it at this stage," a spokeswoman told CNN.com.

But the NCIS report, however, suggests the government is interested in pursuing the plans.

The report reads: "We believe that the (government) Home Office already accepts that such activity is unquestionably lawful, necessary and proportional, as well as being vital in the interests of justice."

Details of the report have been circulated within Britain's telecommunications industry.

The document estimates that a database to store all the information would cost about 3 million ($4.3 million) to set up and 9 million ($13 million) per year to run.

It states: "In the interests of verifying the accuracy of data specifically provided for either intelligence or evidential purposes, CSPs should be under an obligation to retain the original data supplied for a period of seven years or for as long as the prosecuting authority directs."

In July, the UK parliament approved new surveillance legislation granting the government sweeping powers to access e-mail and other encrypted Internet communications.

The laws were the first of their type to be mandated in Europe.



RELATED STORIES:
Analysis: Your PC could be watching you
November 15, 2000
MI6: Spy force shrouded in mystery
September 21, 2000
U.K. e-mail snooping bill passed
July 28, 2000
Concern over U.K. e-mail surveillance bill grows
June 13, 2000
Feds may be reading your mail
April 26, 2000
Echelon: The skies have ears
December 30, 1999

RELATED SITES:
National Criminal Intelligence Service
Britain's Home Office
MI5

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