Monday, December 8, 2008


Daily Mail, UK - Cambridgeshire County Council used the controversial [anti-terror] Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to spy on eight paperboys thought to be working without permits. It sent undercover council officers to lurk outside a Spar in the village of Melbourn and take notes on the movements of the boys. The evidence was used in a criminal prosecution of the shop's owners for employing five of the boys without the correct documentation.

Cambridgeshire's approach is just the latest example of local authorities using the RIPA for minor misdemeanours. Such activities have been likened to those of the Stasi, the East German secret police. . .

Andrew Lansley, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, agreed, saying: 'These powers should only be used for the scope they were intended, which is to tackle serious crime and terrorism.' But a Cambridgeshire Council spokesman said: 'Delivering heavy bags early in the morning is potentially very hazardous. We do not want to wait until someone has an accident before we start to uphold the law properly.'

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was supposed to grant only the police and security services the power to spy on emails and phone calls. But it was extended to town halls, which have been taking advantage on a daily basis.

In the last financial year, 154 local authorities made 1,707 requests for communications data under RIPA.


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