If you thought every time you picked up the telephone and spoke to your sister, mom or best friend, it was your business; or that every time you called to book an appointment or searched for something of interest in Google it was private: think again. Telephone surveillance and the use of spy equipment has increased dramatically according to watchdogs and human rights groups. The reason for the increased use of spy equipment has been blamed on anti-terror laws that are being stretched beyond the remit they were intended for. Telephone surveillance and internet use is being monitored by councils, police and other officials. Figures state that in 2007 there were 519,260 requests from such bodies to communication providers to access information. The Daily Mail reports that our private data is being monitored, with 1,400 ‘spying operations’ being launched every day.
Telephone Surveillance: A Question of National Security?
Telephone surveillance isn’t just in the form of phone tapping and using high tech spy equipment to bug telephone conversations – in fact this kind of telephone surveillance tends to be restricted to police or intelligence services. But telephone surveillance in the form of our phone bills being raked over or the websites we visit being monitored is part of the low level intrusion UK residents now seem victim to. And it isn’t terrorism plots, drug rings, gun smuggling or international spying that’s triggered the step up in telephone surveillance and use of spy equipment – it’s issues such as dog fouling and fly-tipping. One couple was profiled in the Mail saying they were spied on for weeks by their council to check they were living in the right school catchment area.
Telephone Surveillance by Local Councils Raises Privacy Fears
It’s thought this high level of spying and intrusion is happening due to councils ‘abusing’ anti-terror laws. Telephone surveillance and internet monitoring can feel like a huge intrusion and infringement on human rights – especially if the spy equipment and investigation is not pertaining to any terrorism fears, but relatively minor offenses. Although many people may justify spying or intercept requests such as telephone surveillance from bodies such as the police or security services as a matter of national security, over 1,700 intercept requests were made by local councils in 2007.