Wednesday, 28 February 2007

439,000 spying orders last year

UK issued 439,000 spying orders last year.

Blair plans police trawl after ID cards come inIain Thomson, <> 21 Feb 2007A report by Sir Swinton Thomas, from the Interception of Communications Commissioner's office, has revealed that 439,000 spying orders have been issued against UK citizens in the past 12 months.

While the bulk of these were for the gathering of requests for telephone lists and individual email addresses, a number involved more invasive forms of spying. More worryingly, over 4,000 errors were reported in requests, including cases in which phones were tapped or electronic communications intercepted. The error rate was described as "unacceptably high".A total of 795 government departments can make such requests, including MI5 <> and MI6 <>, 52 police forces, 475 local authorities and organisations like the Financial Services Authority <>.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that fingerprints collected for the new ID cards will be used by police to trawl through databases of unsolved crimes. Blair said in a letter to those who signed the online petition against ID cards that the sweep would cover 900,000 unsolved crimes. "I believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice," he wrote."They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register."

However, Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the No2ID <> campaign, has hit back at Blair's assertions."The prime minister's claims on this subject are not exactly lies, so much as fact-free," he said. "Endlessly repeating a fabrication does not make it real." Booth pointed out that the 900,000 crime scene marks, which might be multiple or indistinct, leading to false 'matches', are misrepresented as separate crimes when in fact many are part of the same offence.


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