The Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, Interception of Communications Commissioner, mentions some examples of Interception of Communications Errors:
Communications Service Providers
3 July Error 1 relates to a human error by a member of CSP staff, whereby a feasibility call was conducted on an agency contact officer's number rather than the warranted target number. Therefore the incorrect transposition of a phone number led to the wrong mobile telephone being placed under intercept. Staff changes and weekend leave meant that the error was not uncovered until three days after interception commenced. Once the error was understood interception was immediately suspended and any product collected was destroyed. The CSP reviewed the incident and implemented a new pro-forma which separated warranty details from contact details to ensure such a mistake was not repeated in future.
Hoist by their own petard !
What exactly is a "feasibility call" with reference to phone interception ?
Which mainstream media organisation or other online commentators will make the annual mistake of misquoting the "552,550 requests for communications data" figure, as if this was the "number of phone taps" or some other nonsense, this time ?
Communications Data Statistics
7.13 During the reporting year public authorities as a whole, submitted 552,550 requests for communications data. The intelligence agencies, police forces and other law enforcement agencies are the principal users of communications data. Chart 1 illustrates that the number of requests submitted in the last three years has increased year on year by approximately 5%. I cannot give a precise reason for the steady increase, but it is indicative of the growth in communications technology. The statistics show that certain police forces have increased their demands for communications data and I believe that this is due, in part, to the fact that there is an increasing awareness amongst investigators of the type of communications data that is available and how communications data can used as powerful investigative tool.
The use of spreadsheet charts to display some of the statistics is an innovation in this year's Report, but it does hide the figures from search engines which might otherwise read and index the text of the (.pdf) file.
Chart 1: Number of Notices / Authorisations for Communications
Data in the previous three year period
2008 - 504,073
2009 - 525,130
2010 - 552,550
7.14 Chart 2 illustrates the breakdown of the communications data requests by type. Nearly two thirds of the requests for communications data in the reporting year were for subscriber data under Section 21(4)(c), usually in the form of enquiries to ascertain the ownership of mobile phones
The figures for the number of communications data requests for 2010 are broken down as:
Subscriber Data - Section 21 (4)(c) - 65% of 552,550 = 359,158
Traffic Data - Section 21 (4)(a) - 26% of of 552,550 = 143,663
Service Use Data - Section 21 (4)(b) - 6% of of 552,550 = 33,153
Combination of (a), (b) and (c) - 3% of of 552,550 = 16,577
This Interception of Communications Commissioner Report alludes to other "wrong numbers" or transposed figures on warrants etc.,
However, digging into one of the Case Studies reveals another, even more tragic "wrong number":
Case Study 2
Lancashire Constabulary - Operation Lace
Lancashire Constabulary used communications data very effectively when investigating the murders of Mr Abdullah Aziz Mohammed and his wife Ayesha Mohammed, and the attempted murder of their two children. The communications data initially identified two suspects who were shown to travel simultaneously into the vicinity of the offence location at the relevant time. This evidence was used to present the case to the CPS who agreed a charge of murder. However from the evidence available these two suspects could not have been responsible for setting the fire and further communications data acquired in relation to the two suspects actually assisted to exonerate them from the murders.
This is an example of how dangerous, to innocent people, the snooping on mobile phone Location Data can be.
They should never have been prosecuted on the basis of this "evidence" in the first place.
The two innocent people who were arrested, charged with murder and remanded in custody will remain forever on police and other databases
"Imran Ali, 29, from Manchester, and Peter Bowden, 39, from Lytham St Annes, were brought before Blackburn magistrates in separate hearings on Friday morning.
They are both charged with the murder of Abdullah Mohammed, 41, his 39-year-old wife Ayesha, and arson with intent to endanger life.
Both men were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing at Preston Court on November 11. "
"The cases against Peter Bowden, 39, of Lytham St Annes and Imran Ali, 29, of Manchester, have been discontinued."
4 murderers were actually convicted:
The intended victim, Mo Ibrahim - who is no relation to the convicted man - lived at 135 London Road in Blackburn, while the Mohammed family were at 175 London Road.
None of the Case Studies illustrate anything which justifies the Data Retention of Communication Data belonging to millions of innocent people for a year.
If the Data Retention legislation had been repealed, all of these serious crime investigations would have proceeded exactly as before, with targeted access to just the current or very recent Communications Data of just the people who were being investigated.
Future Reports should include a breakdown of requests for historical Retained Communications Data i.e. older than 1 month, older than 3 months, 6 months or the full year.
We suspect that there will actually be very few of such requests for historical Retained Data and almost none of them will have been proportionate to current ongoing targeted investigations.
law Enforcement or Intelligence Agencies or Communications Service Providers should not be allowed to inflate the Data Retention use statistics, by pretending that a request for say, subscriber information for a currently used mobile phone counts as a "full 12 months historical Retained data" request, because the phone is on an annual or longer contract, where the name and address details have not changed in 12 months.
8.14 Regrettably serious weaknesses and failings were found in the systems and processes of 15 of the prison establishments which were inspected.
This number has reduced from the previous year, but it is still too high and indicates a failure by managers and staff to ensure the interception of communications is conducted fully in accordance with the rules. Three of these prisons were visited twice during the reporting year. I am pleased to report that the re-inspection of one of these prisons found a complete transformation and consequently that establishment is now achieving a good level of compliance. Regrettably my Inspectors concluded that the other two establishments had
not made significant progress during the re-inspections and were still achieving a poor level of compliance. This is concerning considering the fact that they were subject to two inspections in the reporting year. These prisons have now provided an assurance that they will take the necessary remedial action, nevertheless they will again be subject to an early re-inspection to check that they have improved.
Since the Interception of Communications Commissioner does not technically even have a remit under RIPA to inspect prisons, but was asked to do so, he has now enforcement powers.
He should publicly name and shame these two "repeat offender".prisons.
At the very least, his inspection reports must be forwarded to the Independent Monitoring Boards of each of the prisons concerned.
Yet again there is duplication with Intelligence Services Commissioner' Report, regarding a few crumbs of information from the secretive Information Tribunal:
9.2 As I have explained in my previous Annual Reports, complaints to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal cannot easily be "categorised" under the three Tribunal systems that existed prior to RIPA. Consequently, I am unable to detail those complaints that relate to the interception of communications that would previously have been considered by the Interception of Communications Tribunal. I can only provide the information on the total number of complaints made to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The Tribunal received 164 new applications during the calendar year 2010 and completed its investigation of 208 cases during the year. 40 cases have been carried forward to 2011.
Assistance to the Tribunal
9.3 Section 57(3) of RIPA requires me to give all such assistance to the Tribunal as the Tribunal may require in relation to investigations and other specified matters. My assistance was not sought by the Tribunal during 2010.
Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants
9.4 During 2010 the Investigatory Powers Tribunal made six determinations in favour of complainants. Since its inception the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has now upheld ten complaints. One of the upheld complaints was made by a husband and wife who lodged a joint complaint and five by members of the same family. On the grounds of confidentiality, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2000 prohibit me from disclosing specific details about the complaint made by the husband and wife, but it is sufficient to say that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complaints made by the five members of the same family were the subject of an open hearing in November 2009 which was widely reported in the media. The case involved directed surveillance carried out by Poole Borough Council of a family in connection with an application made by the parents for a school place for their youngest child. The Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complainants made no application for remedies and none were awarded. The fact that these cases were upheld has led to changes in guidelines provided to Local Authorities on the use of directed surveillance and proposed legislation to change the procedures on the authorisation of this type of surveillance.
Directed surveillance by Poole Borough Council case did nothave anything to do with either Interception of Communications or the acquisition of Communications Data.