Sunday, May 27, 2012

Concerns over the proposed Communication Bill in UK

Some of the bills presented on 9 May 2012 in the Queen's Speech, in which the Queen reads the government's legislative agenda for the next parliamentary period in front of both Houses of Parliament, raise freedom of expression concerns.

HM the Queen confirmed the intention of the government to introduce the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, a government bill aimed at extending the surveillance of the electronic and telephone communications in UK.

"My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses"

However, the text of the bill does not give clear indications regarding these safeguards.

In a letter addressed to the House of Commons, Reporters Without Borders expressed their opinion that the bill was "disproportionate, dangerous and counter-productive", believing that it "could undermine individual freedoms and potentially lead to widespread abuse." The bill gives intelligence services the right to access - in real time and without prior authorisation - details of telephone calls, text messages, emails, private messages on social networks and websites visited, which means a breach of the individuals' right to privacy. Furthermore, the bill would involve serious legal, technical and financial issues and would contravene international conventions ratified by the United Kingdom.