UK police, councils spying on public telephone, e-mail records almost 1,400 times a day

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London, Aug.10 (ANI): New figures have revealed that local councils and police in Britain access telephone and e-mail records of people in the country at least 1400 times a day.

According to The Telegraph, this figure is equivalent to spying on one in every 78 adults, leading to claims that Britain had "sleepwalked into a surveillance society".

The official report also disclosed that hundreds of errors had been made in these "interception" operations, with the wrong phone numbers or emails being monitored.

The figures will fuel concerns over the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act by public bodies.

The Act gives authorities - including councils, the police and intelligence agencies - the power to request access to confidential communications data, including lists of telephone numbers dialled and email addresses to which messages have been sent.

Councils have been accused of using the powers, which were originally intended to tackle terrorism and organised crime, for trivial matters such as littering and dog fouling.

Only last month, it emerged that councils and other official bodies had used hidden tracking devices to spy on members of the public.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the interception of communications commissioner, who reviews requests made under the Act, compiled the latest figures.

Kennedy found that last year a total of 504,073 such requests were made. The vast majority were made by the police and security services but 123 local councils made a total of 1,553 requests for communications data. Some councils sought lists of the telephone numbers that people had dialled.

The Home Office has said that it has no plans to stop the tracking of every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public, in order to combat terrorists and other criminals.

Opposition leaders like Chris Huhne of the Liberal Democratic Party have said that this sort of surveillance is unjustified. (ANI)

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