Release time: 22 October 2008
Mobile Phones and Emails – are to be the latest target in the Government’s proposals to fight crime and terrorism by setting up a huge database which collects so called “Communications data.”
While Ms Smith stressed the “content” of conversations would not be stored, the plans to collect more data on people’s phone, e-mail and web-browsing habits are expected to be included in the Communications Data Bill, due to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in November.
If this giant database goes ahead it will mean that investigative journalists can be closely monitored.
CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “With the fiascoes of personal data this Government has so far managed to lose, from people getting child support through to military records, this idea has catastrophe written all over it.
“There is no validity in the proposals. They are yet another intrusion affecting working journalists. That can never be acceptable. It is quite obvious that people can use such data records to know who, when and where a journalist is ringing and from that take action. That is a deep and fundamental threat to any journalist investigating wrong doing in a so called democracy.”
In her speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research on Wednesday (October 15 2008), the Home Secretary said that recording of Communications Data – data about calls, such as the location and identity of the caller, is vital to target criminals and terrorists.
Mr Cooper said: “The media provides some of the most critical comment on Government and there are no safeguards to stop powerful people from using this information against journalists.
“The police already have the opportunity to track this information for serious crimes and as Ms Smith pointed out they were used to convict Ian Huntley, for the Soham murders, and those responsible for the 21/7 terrorist plots against London. Why do we need more?
“The Police are already using every law they can think of to inhibit press photographers. These measures will only serve to track and potentially inhibit journalists even more.”
From Liz Justice, CIoJ Press Office, 07780 661926.