In the UK, a report has revealed that the police and other official bodies made 504,073 surveillance requests to telephone and email companies. That is the equivalent of tapping the phone and email of one in seventy-eight members of the adult population.
Councils and other official or quasi-official bodies have regulary requested communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, reserved in the main for ‘terrorist’ operations, to monitor such threats to national security as old ladies putting out bins on the wrong day (real terrorism, that), people accused of letting their dogs foul the pavement or even spying on their own employees in the workplace.
Surveillance of this type is obviously necessary in some cases and has proven invaluable, but it almost certainly being abused, either by the poor wording of legislation or the desire of the authorities to exercise ‘big brother’ control.
Of the 504,073 requests for phone or email surveillance, that’s 1,381 per day, only two complaints of improper interception were upheld. There have only been a total of three cases upheld since 2006.