Police Surveillance

Police demand beefed up surveillance powers to view people’s internet history

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By John Glenday, Reporter

October 30, 2015 | 2 min read

Britain’s police forces are on a collision course with civil liberties campaigners after demanding enhanced surveillance powers to enable them to view the internet browsing history of everyone in Britain.

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The unprecedented step would force telecommunications providers to retain web histories for a period of 12 months, allowing police to access this data to assist their investigations such as logging social media activity of missing persons or identifying the use of child abuse websites.

If commanders get their way such powers could find their way into the looming Investigatory Powers Bill, although access would require judicial approval and would be restricted to homepages only with no detailed drill down activity within particular domains.

Richard Berry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman for data communications, said: “We essentially need the ‘who, where, when and what’ of any communication — who initiated it, where were they and when did it happen. And a little bit of the ‘what’, were they on Facebook, or a banking site, or an illegal child abuse image-sharing website?”

Civil liberties campaigners warn that the cost and privacy implications of retaining records on such a vast scale would render any such moves impractical however.

Conservative MP David Davis, said: “It’s extraordinary they’re asking for this again, they are overreaching and there is no proven need to retain such data for a year”, calling on police to “prove their case — not just assert that they need it”.

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