Communications Data Bill/Response to Justifications

< Communications Data Bill

The Home Office and surrogates have made public justifications for the Communications Data Bill. Here are references and responses to them.


The Sun piece with 2 case studies - one where data was given by a corrupt police officer to the suspect, and another where the suspect was arrested hours later. Full rebuttal

Example 1: “A MAJOR criminal investigation was launched into a website used as a secret portal for viewing more than 2,000 indecent images of children. Both were jailed. But others escaped because internet access companies had no record of who had used the IP addresses.” Being involved in the production or distribution of child pornography is illegal. It is a serious crime. In this case, it would be proportionate to go to internet service providers and ask for the IP address of any computer accessing the website, and for data to be retained about that use. Those people could be identified and prosecuted without needing to record every website visit of every person.

Example 2: An online counsellor called police to tip them off that an emotional man was feared to be on the verge of suicide. Cops found out where he lived by tracing the IP address and raced round to his home. It was only by chance that the internet service provider had a record of the man’s address and police were able to help him. What happened to terrorism, paedophiles and serious criminals? There is a wholly separate argument about whether the state should try and intervene in preventing suicides in such a way, but in this case it is about the ability to track in real-time the identity of a single individual when some identifying information – in this case an IP address – is already known. The powers to track an individual already exist – and in this case none of the data used was details of emails, website visits or social media messages, which the bill proposes to log for everyone for one year.


Home Office: 100,000 emergency location lookups per year

There are only 500 murders and 5000 suicides, that seems excessive. That is roughly the number of 999 calls which need urgent location information; which is wholly unrelated and completely unaffected by this bill. No one is suggesting that emergency location information should no longer be provided.

[[BBC News][1]]: The police definition of cases that resulted in lives being saved includes missing persons, kidnappings and other crimes where people in potential danger had to be traced, the Home Office said.

Home Office: £1.7m per life saved

This is the estimated savings divided by number of life saved.

Lord Blencathra, chair of the Joint Bill Ctte, to the Home Sec, said... "impressed the Home Office accountants got one over on the Treasury" [16:29:00 on 31 Oct]

Home Office Maths problems

* IoCC maths error
* ...


Home Office: Just drafting errors

After intense criticisms, Charles Farr, Head of OSCT, seems to think that most of the fundamental problems are drafting errors. Including clause 1 of part 1 of the bill. There are many other errors

Home Office: Current information only


Home Office: Only used against terrorists ...

In her article in the Sun, the Home Secretary said "Only suspected terrorists, paedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated."[1] However, the Bill is far wider than that, and includes so many agencies, that the Home Office wont currently list them, and wont even have a complete list until those who think they want access have made a case to the Home Office next year.

International comparisons

The Home Office have no response to the suggestion that the only countries using this technology are Iran, China and Kazakhstan. (Lord Strasberger's questioning of the Home Sec, 31st Oct 2012)


Home Office: The CSPs have been communicated with and are onside

The Home Office has been flatly contradicted by those with whom they claim to have discussed the Bill. The large internet companies claim to have had a superficial conversation about the bill, after they had been called to give evidence. [Blencathra to Home Sec]

Home Office: seen no evidence of abuse of powers

Other issues


Apparently the #commsdata bill is "urgent" - so the Home Office spent 2 years creating PCCs first... #ccdp (@NickPickles)

Insufficient Prevention of Abuse

The Government has not yet moved to implement sections 77 and 78 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, 2008 concerning Unlawfully obtaining etc. personal data[2]

we need access to Skype

In June 2012, after Microsoft bought Skype, IMs are now retained for a period, and all supernodes are run by Microsoft, so call logging can be done. This makes it almost exactly like a normal phone line.