Theresa May claims tracking communications will help crack down on paedophiles and terrorists
Home secretary Theresa May has defended proposals which would allow GCHQ to track mobile communications and online activity without a warrant.
The legislation, which is expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, received criticism from various MPs and campaign groups yesterday who said the measures would infringe on rights.
Theresa May, writing in The Sun today, stood up for the changes, which would cost £2 billion over 10 years, by saying they were needed to “help the police stay one step ahead of criminals”.
“Looking at who a suspect talks to can lead the police to other criminals. Whole paedophile rings, criminal conspiracies and terrorist plots can then be smashed,” May said. “Data like this has already helped lock away murderer Ian Huntley. It helped catch the gangland thugs who gunned down Rhys Jones.”
“Last year, police smashed a major international child pornography website based in Lincolnshire. They then used internet data analysis to find other suspected paedophiles.”
She emphasised that GCHQ would not be creating a database of private information and would not be looking through the content of messages, arguing that the proposals were directly aimed at cracking down on criminals.
Fellow Conservative party member David Davis, also writing in The Sun, objected to this message however, saying the new legislation was unnecessary and would turn Britain into a “nation of suspects”.
“Whenever a government announces plans to snoop on British citizens, the argument is always the same – it needs the new law to stop terrorists,” Davis said. “But we already have a law which lets the secret services eavesdrop on suspected criminals and terrorists.”
“The new law does not focus on terrorists or criminals. It would instead allow civil servants to monitor every innocent, ordinary person in Britain, and all without a warrant.”
How much do you know about IT security? Test your knowledge with our quiz.