Over the last 24 hours I have read, reread and reread again this article in the Daily Fail;
The first thing (but not the most serious by any means) was the bold assertion that the Police had ‘hacked’ the phones of journalists. We all know what is meant by ‘hacking phones’ thanks to various assorted members of the press themselves.
Is this really what the Police are doing?
The second thing that peeved me was the assertion that RIPA is an Anti-Terrorist law, it is not. I would imagine that Terrorism forms a small percentage of RIPA applications. If you want to know the TRUTH about the sort of things that RIPA covers look here.
What the Police are doing, whether you think it’s right or wrong, is making an application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for an itemised phone bill for a specified phone number.
I agree that it is possible to abuse this process, much like any other regulated procedure, politicians expenses for example, but this is clearly wrong and such cases would, in my opinion, form the absolute minority of applications submitted. All applications are written and the original copy is retained for future accountability purposes.
Not one single itemised phone bill can lawfully be supplied by the phone companies without such an application.
So, in attempt to appease the whiter than white journalists, the whiter than white politicians, led by Imelda May, are now proposing to change RIPA meaning that all such applications would need to be authorised by a Judge.
The sheer volume of such requests that are made across the UK every year means that Judges would be bogged down with RIPA applications.
The likely result of that is that most would be rejected, or not even make it to the Judge in the first place.
These applications currently have to be authorised by a senior officer, they have to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence being investigated and have to be ‘targeted’ i.e. they can’t be part of a ‘fishing expedition’.
So, in order to appease the journos, Imelda will be tying one hand behind the back of every officer who is investigating something. Armed Robbers, Drug Dealers, Terrorists even, must be rubbing their hands in glee as it will now be made more difficult to gain evidence or intelligence on their activities and associates.
Surely it would be better to restrict your interference to ensuring rigidly that the requirements of RIPA are complied with, applications correctly compiled, submitted, authorised and retained for accountability.
Why would you weaken the Police Arsenal at a time like this, you’ve already nicked 16,000 of them, why take their powers away as well?
Be careful what you wish for journos, you might just get it.