The British Government’s plans to snoop on its citizens’ online activity risk uncovering wrong targets such as “incompetent criminals and accidental anarchists” rather than serious offenders, the UK Information Commissioner has warned.
Christopher Graham said that there was a danger that the most serious criminals, including terrorists, could simply avoid detection by changing their behaviour or by using a smaller ISP provider that permitted encrypted communications.
“The really scary people will have worked it out for themselves,” the BBC quoted Graham, as saying. The UK Government is currently scrutinizing plans, under which service providers will have to store details of people’s online activity, such as on social network sites, webmail, internet phone calls and online gaming, for a year to allow police and intelligence services to access it.
While UK ministers have argued that law enforcement agencies need to keep pace with the changing technology used by offenders, critics have slammed the proposals, terming them as “snooper’s charter”.
Graham said that it was up to the UK Parliament to decide on the merits of the proposals, but there were “important data protection principles at stake”, such as the length of time material was retained, the risk of unauthorised access and whether it was fully disposed off at the end of the period.
He also outlined that the legislation, if approved, should be kept under consistent review to ensure it was working as intended, the report said.