Home Office changes mind on data interception consultation

Darren Allan

December 1, 2010

The Home Office has now decided it will meet with civil rights groups over planned changes to data privacy laws.

These changes have been prompted by the EC, after investigation into the whole Phorm affair, in which BT customers had their web browsing tracked without their knowledge.

The Home Office was going to go ahead with the reform process without bothering to consult anyone except those directly affected, such as ISPs. But apparently it has now changed its mind, and will meet with organisations such as the Open Rights Group (ORG) as part of the consultation, according to a BBC report.

ORG fears that these reforms will be shoved through quickly, and wants to ensure that they are made forceful enough to actually protect British citizens from being spied on by the likes of BT.

The deadline for the consultation has now been extended to December 17th, and the meeting with civil rights groups will take place this week.

The Home Office is considering giving the Interception Commissioner, who deals with cases where companies have hoovered up the likes of surfing data without permission, the ability to fine much like the Information Commissioner.

However, while the ICO can levy penalties of up to £500,000, the government is talking about a limit of £10,000 for the Interception Commissioner. Jim Killock, head of ORG, calls that figure a “joke” and mere “pocket money” to big ISPs, and he’s quite right there.


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