UK: Statewatch Observatory: Telephone-tapping and access to communications data (1937-2006) - updated 29 January 2008

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Statewatch Observatory - with the publication of the Interception of Communications Commissioner's report for 1 April 2006 to 31 December 2006 (pdf). This report contains two sets of figures which are of interest:

a) Rise in telephone tapping: The number of warrants issued for the interception of communications (eg phone-tapping etc). The figures in the latest report are for only nine months of 2006, however, when adjusted to give an annual figure these show that the total adjusted figures for the previous period give a total of 5,723 (ie: warrants issued plus the modifications) and the new adjusted figure shows a rise to an annual figure of 6,597.

b) Requests for access to communication data by law enforcement agencies remains very high: The number of requests for access to communications data (ie: traffic data) under RIPA Part I Chapter II from service providers: in the nine months covered by the latest reports a total of 253,557 requests were made. As noted in the Commissioner's report for 2005-6 (p17): "A large number of the Law Enforcement Agencies, who are the principal users of communications data, have acquired fully automated systems [of access]" The total number of requests in this 15 month period in 2005-6 were: 439,054.

The figures in the Daily Telegraph story (link) have confused telephone tapping warrants with a separate power for law enforcement agencies etc to request access to traffic data from service providers.

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