Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl seeks more monitoring of internet activity
A FAILED bill allowing the recording of people's activities on the internet and other telecommunications is essential for national safety and should be looked at again - according to Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Data Protection Bill was proposed by the Home Secretary Theresa May with a view to becoming law in 2014 but it failed to get the support of Parliament.
Now, 21 of the UK’s 41 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have written to Mrs May declaring their support and calling on her to re-start the debate, initiated by Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl.
The draft legislation was submitted by the Government as a way of protecting the public from terrorist attack by recording data from all telecommunications and internet traffic.
PCC for Avon and Somerset Sue Mountstevens is also on the list in support of the bill.
PCC Surl is a former senior police officer with experience of counter terrorism and who worked on the creation of the national policing counter terrorism network in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings.
"It is vitally important that legislation keeps pace with developments in technology and the ever growing variety of ways in which people can communicate with one another", said Mr Surl.
"As it stands, the police can identify anyone who has made a telephone call or sent an SMS text message, when and from where. But they are legally prohibited from doing the same for email, internet, instant messaging or other internet-based services because communications service providers do not retain all of the relevant data." The Draft Communications Bill proposed that internet service providers and mobile phone companies be required to maintain records of each user’s internet browsing activity, email correspondence, telephone calls, internet gaming and mobile phone messaging services and stored for twelve months.
Mr Surl added: "Those of my fellow PCCs who have signed a letter to Mrs May, and I, believe this inability is inhibiting operations in counter terrorism and against organised crime."
In their letter to the Home Secretary, the 21 PCCs said: "We believe it is an integral part of the armoury necessary to ensure future safety of citizens and a necessary tool to protect, conditional on stringent safeguards on data security and civil liberties, and should be reviewed on a regular basis."
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