The Queen’s speech that took place this week has confirmed that the government intends to push ahead with its controversial Communications Data Bill, which would afford the government powers to read people’s emails among other moves that privacy campaigners have called dangerous.
The bill, if passed, would allow law enforcement agencies the right to access communications data including emails and texts in a bid to detect criminal activity. Unsurprisingly, it has come in for widespread criticism within the industry.
The Queen said in her speech “My Government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses” while the government, in an announcement that was timed to coincide with the Queen’s speech, said “[The] data includes the time and duration of the communication, the telephone number or email address which has been contacted and sometimes the location of the originator of the communication.”
The draft of the bill was released on May 9th. Before the bill can become a reality, the government must establish a number of frameworks that will enable the collection and retention of the data from service providers. It has been advised that communications providers should be required to hold on to the data for no longer than 12 months.
The bill will continue to draw criticism from many quarters as people see it as going a step too far and putting civil liberties at risk.