May gives new powers to police to track email and Facebook accounts
Theresa May has today begun a prolific defence of the extension of laws designed to give police services access to phone and email records, as she insisted that the new powers would help keep the British public safe.
Details of internet use in the UK will be stored for 12 months to allow intelligence services to access it under May’s plans. The details stored are set to include activity on social network sites, email services, internet phone calls and online gaming.
The Communications Bill will be published in draft form on Thursday, although the Conservatives are set to face a lengthy battle to get the bill through parliament. Not only are they facing opposition from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but from Conservative party members who believe the plans to be an infringement on privacy.
Senior Tory David Davis said that the bill was “incredibly intrusive” and would only “catch the innocent and incompetent”. Mr Davis is calling for an extreme “watering-down” of the bill or to simply abandon it.
The Liberal Democrats have simply said that the bill will need their support. Lib Dem MP and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee Julian Huppert said: “If the Bill is not acceptable to the Liberal Democrats then it will not happen.” Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott added: “Liberal Democrats and the Lords as a whole will scrutinise this Bill as closely as the security services want to scrutinise every citizen.”
In an effort to win over critics, the Bill is likely to strip local authorities of their current power to access phone call data, but those against the bill believe that authorities should use their powers to target suspects only.
May is being vocally supported by Metropolitan chief commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, who said: “Put simply, the police need access to this information to keep up with the criminals who bring so much harm to victims and our society.”
Mrs May remains adamant that paedophilia is a particular area that the proposed bill will help to tackle and says she is confused by her critics. She wrote: “I just don’t understand why some people might criticise these proposals. I have no doubt the conspiracy theorists will come up with some ridiculous claims about how these measures are an infringement of freedom.”