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Newsview :New web data powers plan for police
« on: November 24, 2014, 12:00:09 AM »

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New web data powers plan for police

Man typing on computer keyboard


                     

A law forcing firms to hand details to police identifying who was using a computer or mobile phone at a given time is to be outlined by Theresa May.


       

The home secretary said the measure would improve national security.


       

Under the Anti Terrorism and Security Bill, providers would have to hold on to data linking devices to users.


       

The Lib Dems backed the move, after calling previous attempts to give security services more powers to monitor web use a "snoopers' charter".


       

The new measure would help police to identify suspects via a computer's individual Internet Protocol (IP) address.


       

Each device has such an address, but they can change - such as when a modem is switched off and then on again - and are usually shared between different users. 


       

Internet service providers currently have no business reason for keeping data on who has used each address, the Home Office said, meaning it is not always possible for police and security services to identify who was going online at a given time.


 

  Theresa MayThe Home Office said the new measures would help police tackle terrorism and child sexual exploitation
 

     

Mrs May said: "The bill provides the opportunity to resolve the very real problems that exist around IP resolution and is a step in the right direction towards bridging the overall communications data capability gap.


       

"But I believe we need to make further changes to the law."


       

The Liberal Democrats welcomed Mrs May's measures but said the "much wider and disproportionate proposals" will not be resurfacing under the coalition government.


  'Unnecessary and unworkable'
     

A spokesman said: "The Liberal Democrats are in favour of action on IP address matching and have been since it was recommended by the joint committee that did the pre-legislative scrutiny on the Communications Data Bill. The committee said the proposals were the only part of that Bill that did not reduce civil liberties.


       

"This is exactly the kind of thing that we need to take action on, rather than proposing an unnecessary, unworkable and disproportionate snooper's charter."


       

The BBC's Simon Clemison said the latest announcement had again exposed the divisions between the coalition partners about privacy and security.


       

Last April a coalition split saw the Communications Data Bill scrapped.


       

That bill would have forced companies to keep data about people's online conversations, social media activity, calls and texts for 12 months.


       

Emma Carr, from privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch, said: "Before setting her sights on reviving the snooper's charter, the home secretary should address the fact that one of the biggest challenges facing the police is making use of the huge volume of data that is already available, including data from social media and internet companies."



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