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5 October, 2007

Pressing too hard

A misaddressed copy of today's Press Gazette ("for all journalists") arrived on my desk this morning.  Before passing it on to the Press Office, I read the front cover through the cellophane, with mounting annoyance.

According to a report which doesn't seem to be on the website yet, new UK legislation allows a number of state organisations to gain full access to journalists' contacts (I think that's phone records in particular):

  • Any police force
  • The National Criminal Intelligence Service
  • The National Crime Squad
  • The Serious Fraud Office
  • Any of the intelligence services
  • Any of Her Majesty's forces
  • The Commissioner of Customs and Excise
  • The Ministry of Defence
  • The Home Office
  • The Commissioners of Inland Revenue
I'm not pleased about these organisations having access, particularly if they no longer need a specific warrant for each individual instance, but at least one could make a compelling argument (not that I would) for their needing access, for reasons of national security and detection of crime. But the list goes on:
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
  • The Department of Health
  • The Department of Trade and Industry
  • The National Assembly for Wales
  • Any local authority
  • The Environment Agency
  • The Financial Services Authority
  • The Food Standards Agency
  • The Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce
  • Health Authorities
  • National Health Service Trusts
  • The Home Office (er, again?)
  • The Department of Social Security
  • The Personal Investment Authority
  • The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
Let's think about that again. The Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce, amongst numerous other non-police agencies, is now able to requisition any journalist's phone records – not the phone records of a suspect under specific investigation, but of an interested third-party. How can that not be excessive state invasion of privacy?

Doesn't this instill a wonderfully cuddly sense of security about how an ID cards database would be used?

Comments

And the Department of Social Security hasn't existed for years. It's the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) now

Posted by Selina at October 8, 2007 11:29 PM
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