Town halls face curb on snooping powers allowing them to read emails and texts
By Jack Doyle
PUBLISHED: 00:26, 2 May 2012 | UPDATED: 00:26, 2 May 2012
Town hall officials could be barred from accessing private data on internet visits, emails and texts, in a concession to civil liberties campaigners.
Ministers are planning to force internet companies to store millions of pieces of data for a year in a controversial new £2billion plan.
Police and security officials say the move is necessary to stop terrorists, organised crime gangs and paedophiles escape detection. Last year some 134 councils used RIPA powers to access more than 1809 pieces of electronic data
Last year some 134 councils used RIPA powers to access more than 1809 pieces of electronic data
But critics say the 'Orwellian' plan is an unnecessary expansion of state snooping and should be stopped.
Every one of the 400 local authorities in England and Wales is able to access all the electronic private data collected using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
But Home Secretary Theresa May is likely to strip councils of their access when a Bill is published later this year.
A Whitehall source said it was 'not worth jeopardising the whole thing' for the sake of councils' access powers.
As a result of the Freedom Act, which gained royal assent yesterday, councils will need a magistrates' permission before they can use surveillance powers.
However, the new concession is unlikely to be enough to satisfy opponents of the 'Big Brother' database.
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