The Data Communications Bill: The UK's "Patriot Act?"
The U.K.'s Digital Communications Bill increases the goverment's legal digital surveillance capability
Zack Whittaker of ZDNet reports today about the draft Data Communications Bill that HM the Queen outlined in her annual speech to Parliament. He summarizes, "The draft “Communications Data Bill” is will expand the U.K. government’s Web, email, and call monitoring powers..." including allowing the police, intelligence services and other government departments to have access to its citizens’ Web, email and phone traffic to see every shred of “communication data” collected and stored by ISPs and phone companies which could then be accessed in near-realtime speed by U.K. authorities.
Kelly Fiveash, reporting in The Register, notes that the Home Office commented on the Bill, saying that, in part,
Nothing in these proposals will authorise the interception of the content of a communication. Nor will it require the collection of all internet data, which would be neither feasible, necessary nor proportionate. We will extend existing safeguards regarding data retention, access and oversight. And we will remove other statutory powers with weaker safeguards under which communications data can currently be accessed by public authorities.
Whittaker's commented on the limitations on data permitted to be collected this way:
"Say you send an email to John Smith. Your name will be recorded, John Smith’s name will be recorded, the IP addresses and the timestamp of the email being sent and received will be collected. This is “communication data”.
"If you visit a website, that domain name will be logged along with the IP address, and the date and time data will be collected. Pages within sites will not be logged."
The actual content of the communication will still require a court order to be accessed.
See Whittaker's full report here.