Opponents of the new legislation on surveillance being pushed through parliament this week say that it contains “sweeping new powers” to require communications and internet companies overseas to respond to requests from British government agencies for data.
But two issues appear to have been confused. The first is that of privacy, and the extent to which it is being eroded. The second is the geographic scope of the legislation. At the moment, if you are suspected of a crime, the police, security services and other agencies can request details from your mobile phone company about, for example, the time and date of calls you made or received and, using cell site analysis, where you were when the calls were made. True, everyone’s data is kept and there is the potential for abuse. But it has proved invaluable as an investigative tool in many serious cases of crime and terrorism.
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