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Scrambling for Safety 7

At the invitation of Privacy International and the Foundation for Information Policy Research, I'm going to be chairing a public meeting on the governments proposed regulations regarding communications data on Wednesday, 22nd October 2003 from 14:15 - 17:00 at the New Theatre, East Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street London WC2



All are welcome and entry is free. Simply RSVP to Simon Davies

The Background

A series of Statutory Instruments were laid before Parliament last month intended to create a legal basis for comprehensive surveillance of communications. The LSE meeting, bringing together industry, rights advocates and a range of government agencies, will test the fairness and legality of the proposals. It will also comprehensively assess the implications of the proposals

The Home Office caused controversy last year when it attempted to allow a long list of public authorities to access records of individuals' telephone and Internet usage. This "communications data" -- phone numbers and e-mail addresses contacted, web sites visited, locations of mobile phones, etc. -- would have been available without any judicial oversight, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. David Blunkett withdrew the proposals after the outcry, and promised to redraft them in a more sensitive and responsive manner.

There has also been ongoing argument about government powers to force telephone companies and Internet Service Providers to keep copies of such communications data. Under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 the Home Secretary may require companies to store this data for long periods to allow retrospective access by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The meeting will also hear details of a new legal Opinion commissioned by Privacy International. The Opinion questions the legality of the government's proposals and suggests they may breach the Human Rights Act.

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