New Whitehall spy powers spark opposition

11:16 03 April 2012

Moves to give Government snoops the power to hack into phone calls, emails and website visits without needing a warrant have been defended by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The legislation, expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, will enable GCHQ to access information “on demand” in “real time” without a warrant.

The controversial plans triggered a online backlash this week, with satirical hashtag #telldaveeverything being used by opponents to show opposition to the plan.

The Home Secretary insisted that ordinary people will not be targeted as she sought to quell fears about the plans which have faced fierce criticism from backbench MPs and civil liberties groups.

“The Internet is now part of our daily lives, but new technology can also be abused by criminals, paedophiles and terrorists who want to cover their tracks and keep their communication secret,” she wrote in the Sun.

“Right now, the police and security agencies use information from phone records to solve crime and keep us safe. Looking at who a suspect talks to can lead the police to other criminals. Whole paedophile rings, criminals conspiracies and terrorist plots can then be smashed.”

“We cannot afford to lose this vital law enforcement tool. But currently online communication by criminals can’t always be tracked. That’s why the Government is proposing to help the police stay one step ahead of the criminals.

“There are no plans for any big Government database. No one is going to be looking through ordinary people’s emails or Facebook posts. Only suspected terrorists, paedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated.”

Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty said the Coalition was guilty of breaking its own commitment to civil liberties.

“Whoever is in Government the grand snooping ambitions of security agencies don’t change,” she said.

“Proposals to stockpile our web, phone and texting records were shelved by Labour. Now we see plans to recycle this chilling proposal leaking into the press.

“The Coalition agreement explicitly promised to ‘end unnecessary data retention’ and restore our civil liberties. At the very least we need less secret briefing and more public consultation if this promise is to be abandoned.”David Davis, Conservative former shadow home secretary had said the law change is not necessary.

“What is proposed is completely unfettered access to every single communication you make,” he said.

A previous attempt to introduce a similar law was abandoned by the former Labour government in 2006 in the face of fierce opposition from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London politics news

Monday, June 29, 2015
Protesters at an earlier anti-austerity demo in Berlin in March (Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Owen Jones, Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn and Green MP Caroline Lucas are all at a rally in Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with Greece this evening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Police clashed with disabled protesters in the lobby of the House of Commons (Photo: Debbie Jolly/PA Wire)

Police have been accused of “heavy handed tactics” as they blocked disabled protesters, many in wheelchairs, from entering the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
(Hannah McKay/PA Wire)

In his latest YouTube video and in the wake of Saturday’s anti-austerity march, Russell Brand has called on people to ‘love the police’ and protest in the streets for better pay, better overtime and better pensions. This, he claims, is a new form of activism called ‘situationism’ which creates ‘spectacles which are provocative and interesting’. You can watch his Trews video below.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Anti-austerity protesters at the State Opening of Parliament (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Tens of thousands of people from all over the country are expected to demonstrate in London for the People’s Assembly ‘End Austerity Now’ protest on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
(Zac Goldsmith running for Mayor. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Images)

Expelled Eton boy, environmentalist and Conservative rising star Zac Goldsmith has joined Sol Campbell in announcing he will run for the role of Mayor of London.

Monday, June 8, 2015
(Picture: Martin Rickett / PA Archive)

The star football player has told SunNation he will run for the role of London Mayor in 2016 and is “in it to win it”.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more
Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Read more
£100 worth of pet goodies up for grabs!

Animal lovers rejoice! It’s time to treat your pooch or spoil your kitty with a hamper worth £100 from Feedem.

Read more