5 out of 6 cases supporting the “snooper’s charter” or Draft Communications Data Bill give no plausible need for “prior blanket retention of the entire nation’s traffic and location data”, writes Caspar Bowden. In one case cited a corrupt police officer accessed data leading to a double murder.

 

Home Secretary Theresa May writing in The Sun has defended the Draft Communications Data Bill, or "snooper's charter", against opposition from the Liberal Democrats. But privacy expert Caspar Bowden highlights the absurdities in the testimony given by Peter Davies (Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre), in support of the draft Bill. Mr Davies gave an example of a murder case in Lincolnshire in which increased data retention could have helped.

However rather than featuring a communication data problem, the case was one in which the police failed to properly investigate the murder. Worse, it later emerged that a corrupt police officer had been feeding police intelligence about the victims — to the murderer.

Bowden further criticises the oversight of Data Protection in the UK by Sir Paul Kenedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner (IoCC), as being deficient in protection under the ECHR, and what the IoCC considers “necessary and proportionate”, and "almost all jurisprudence about interception and communications data takes place invisibly within the cranium of the IoCC, and almost nowhere else."

The approach of presenting the bill as aimed at only terrorists, paedophiles and serious criminals is something the Joint Committee raised with the Home Secretary, noting the purposes of the Bill go much, much wider than these offences.The IoCC told MPs that the powers could be justified when investigating incidents such as fly tipping.

The potential loss of Lib Dem support, and possible Labour opposition could scupper the chances of the Bill becoming law in its current form. “The report gives Nick an opportunity to kill the bill for good and that’s what he wants to do,” a senior Lib Dem minister told the BBC, while another commented: ”This is a dead duck. It is a question of when, not if.”