Controversial new powers for the police and security services to access personal communications data will be ineffective against terrorism or serious organised crime, the official information watchdog has warned.
Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, said the measures in the draft data communications bill would only catch “the incompetent criminal and the accidental anarchist”.
At the same time, he said, he was not being given either the powers or the resources necessary to regulate the new system and ensure the information collected was not being abused.
Under the proposals, internet providers and other information service providers will be required to retain records of all communications for 12 months, which the police and security services will have access to.
The records will include emails, web phone calls and activity on social networking sites.
But giving evidence to a joint committee of MPs and peers set up to scrutinise the Bill, Graham said the controls could easily be evaded by experienced criminals.
“If you are the sort of international terrorist or organised criminal whom this system is designed for, you presumably will have the wit not to go to one of the big six [information service providers],” he said.
“You will find a small provider and might well be able to afford the £5-a-month to buy your own private network registered overseas and then all your traffic will be encrypted and you are home free.
“The really scary people will have worked that out for themselves. This is a system which, on the face of it, is looking for the incompetent criminal and the accidental anarchist.”
*Yay!! for the ICO. Some common sense at long last.
*Wikipedia, Facebook and others have all stood up for the little people against state surveillance.
*Now, will the Government listen to it’s own ICO?? Let’s hope so.
*This insane Police State was devised by the Police, for the Police – without democratic debate.
*In effect, data retention on this scale, would destroy eCommerce within the UK, for zero net effect against crime. Glad that Parliament is hearing this from our own ICO.