Theresa May Bidding To Revive Snoopers’ Charter After Woolwich Killing

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Home secretary wants controversial proposals back on the table and a crackdown on extremist websites

Home secretary Theresa May is still hoping the controversial Communications Data Bill will be make it through to Parliament, following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

May has also indicated radical Islamist groups could have their websites banned, even if they do not advocate violence. The comments came after the death of Rigby, killed by two alleged extremists, which the government said was likely a terrorist attack

Theresa May wants citizens’ comms data

Online surveillance © - Fotolia.comShe will face tough opposition, however, from the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg blocked the bill, known to critics as Snoopers’ Charter. It did not make it into the Queen’s Speech earlier this month, following claims it would have granted too much power to government and would have led to egregious invasions of privacy

The proposals would allow Theresa May to order any ISP to store comms data on all customers, including what sites they visited, whom they contacted, where from and for how long. Content of messages would not be included.

May voiced her support of the bill during the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this weekend, saying it was essential intelligence agencies had access to communications data.

“We need to ensure we are giving our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies access to the tools that they need to fight crime, paedophiles and terrorists,” May said.

Former government ministers, including former Labour home secretary Lord John Reid, have also called for Snoopers’ Charter to be put back on the table.

But privacy activists will again fight the bill, as the Home Office and Theresa May together a fresh draft.

Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The Prime Minister was right to warn against knee-jerk reactions, but sadly it seems some of his Parliamentary colleagues have grasped at the first piece of law that sprung to mind without even waiting for the full facts to emerge.

“There are clearly failings in current surveillance law, but the solution is to allow the police and agencies to focus their investigations on individuals whatever technology they are using and to monitor who those people are talking to, not recording what everyone in the country is doing.”

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