UK snooping law plans may come into contradiction with EC

By EDRi · July 4, 2012

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Deutsch: [Britisches Schnüffelgesetz könnte Standpunkt der EU-Kommission widersprechen |]

The plans of the UK government of increasing the police online
surveillance powers under the draft Communications Data Bill (CDB),
also known as the “Snoopers’ Chart”, might come into contradiction with
the European Commission’s position on citizens’ rights.

If approved, CDB will place innocent citizens under continuous
surveillance having all their communications and online activity
monitored, all of the time. The government would store information about
who’s messaging whom, who’s a friend to whom on the Internet or what
people are searching for on search engines. Police and HM Revenue and
Customs officers would have the power to access this information without
a judicial warrant.

According to the information appeared in mass-media, the Home Office had
a meeting with the largest electronic communications providers in UK
that included discussions on the hardware which companies will have to
use to monitor traffic flowing through their systems.

Things get more complicated with the design of the system to identify
and store traffic data from the webmail services. Thus, the ISPs might
have “to route the data via a government-approved ‘black box’ which will
decrypt the message, separate the content from the ‘header data’, and
pass the latter back to the ISP for storage.”

When asked about the UK Communications Data Act on the occasion of the
Digital Enlightenment Forum in Luxembourg on 25 June, the European
Commission vice-president Viviane Reding, who in January 2012 proposed
the overhaul of the data protection law in the 27 EU member-states, made
reference to the Treaty of Lisbon that had to be observed by all the
states. She also pointed out there had to be a balance between the
rights and the obligations of the state: “one is to preserve the rights
of the individual and the other one is to preserve the rights of the
society. This is a balancing act; you cannot make them clash.”

Reding added that the proposed Data Protection Directive, now under
discussion in the European Parliament, had some flexibility for the sake
of national security against terrorists and organised crime. “But there
is no way that in those policies the rights of individuals are
eliminated,” she however added.

The significant impact of the CDB on human rights was underlined also by
Dr. Paul Bernal in a submission sent to the Joint Committee on Human
Rights (JCHR). He concluded that even the “premise of the Communications
Data Bill is fundamentally flawed. By the very design, innocent people’s
data will be gathered (and hence become vulnerable) and their activities
will be monitored. Universal data gathering or monitoring is almost
certain to be disproportionate at best, highly counterproductive at worst.”

Brussels could ‘clash’ with London over UK snooper’s charter – ‘Maybe
not everyone understands the Treaty of Lisbon’ (26.06.2012)

How will the Communications Data Bill affect you? (21.06.2012)

‘Black boxes’ to monitor all internet and phone data (29.06.2012)

The snoopers charter (26.06.2012)

The snoopers charter

EDRi-gram: Concerns over the proposed Communication Bill in UK (23.05.2012)