Why can't Home Office cite any cases which support 12 months of Data Retention ?
It was noticeable in the media spin and during the perfunctory debate in Parliament, that the DRIP proponents deliberately mixed up and confused the utility of targeted Communications Data of criminal suspects and, inevitably, a limited number of their innocent contacts,which nobody objects to, with that of blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of the entire population of the United Kingdom, for which there is no evidence that this is necessary or proportionate.
The Home Office's Communications Data propaganda sheet (.pdf)
It has also played a significant role in the investigation of a very large number of serious and widely reported crimes, including the Oxford and Rochdale child grooming cases, murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack and the murder of Rhys Jones.
It has also played a significant role in the investigation of a very large number of serious and widely reported crimes, including the Oxford and Rochdale child grooming cases, murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, and 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack.
N.B. for some reason this omits mention of the Rhys Jones case.
The Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner lists about 250,000 Communications Data demands a year. The number of actual investigations or successful prosecutions which this involves is, scandalously, kept secret, but it must be thousands.
Are these 5 cases really the best and only examples that the Home Office can come up with, out of the millions of Communications Data demands which have there have been since 2000 ?
2002 murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley
Spy Blog commented on the strengths and weaknesses of Communications Data in this case back in 2003:
4 August, 2002
Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman go missing.
8 August, 2002
The police release CCTV pictures of the two girls.
16 August, 2002
The girls parents hold a news conference aimed at helping to find their children.
17 August, 2002
The bodies of the girls are found in a ditch at Lakenheath Suffolk. Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr are arrested.
17 December, 2003
Huntley guilty of Holly and Jessica murders. Carr cleared of assisting an offender but guilty of conspiracy.
Less than 2 weeks before the murderer was arrested. Communications Data but more crucially local Cell Site signal mapping analysis did indirectly provide a tip off to detectives pointing to the murderer Huntley.
This is case is not a justification for blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.
2007 Rhys Jones murder by gangster Sean Mercer
22 August 2007: 1840 BST - Sean Mercer is at the home of Dean Kelly in Sword Walk, Croxteth, when he receives a telephone call from Melvin Coy.
1908 BST - A second call is made to Mercer by Gary Kays. Both calls are to tell him that rival Wayne Brady is outside the Fir Tree pub.
Mercer and Kelly leave Sword Walk, and Mercer goes to get a gun from James Yates, before riding to the Fir Tree pub on his bike, intending to shoot at Wayne Brady or his friends.
Mercer rides out from behind the pub, fires three shots, and rides off.
1928 BST - Rhys, who is crossing the pub's car park, hears the sound of the first bullet, turns, and is struck by the second.
After only 2 days of investigation, the Police already had very strong suspicions of who the murder gang were, sufficient to authorise Intrusive Surveillance:
Whilst targeted Communications Data of known criminals on the day of the murder was used, along with CCTV and public appeals and other normal investigative techniques, this case should notbe used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.
24 August 2007: Bugging devices are placed inside the homes of suspects James Yates and boy M.
25 August 2007: Police make several arrests in connection with the inquiry. One of those is Sean Mercer, who is released pending further inquiries.
6 November: Merseyside Chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe says he is confident his officers know the identity of the killer.
29 January 2008: Mercer is arrested on separate firearms charges and bailed 48 hours later.
16 April 2008: Six others are arrested by murder detectives.
Sean Mercer, then 17, is charged with murdering Rhys."
15 December 2008: Mercer found guilty of murder at Liverpool Crown Court.
2007 Glasgow Airport failed terrorist attack
The failed terrorist attack on Glagow Airport
was preceded by the failed car bombs in Haymarket, London
Why did the Home Ofice choose a case which caused a huge political row in Australia, when the innocent cousin of one of the failed terrorists was arrested and held without trial, because of erroneous mobile phone SIM Card "evidence" ?
It does seem that Communications Data of emails and mobile phone calls may have been used to show that two of the criminals first contacted each other in February 2007 i.e. 5 months before the attacks,
However it is just as likely that this link was directly established from seized phone handsets and computers after they were arrested. Given the mass of other eye witness, CCTV, ANPR and other forensic evidence, this use of Communications Data was not vital to either the investigation or the prosecution.
This case should notbe used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.
Rochdale and Oxford sex gangs
It is hard to see why the Police did not conduct targeted surveillance of the criminal gangs who raped and abused children, even after some of the victims had come forward and complained to them about named or easily identifiable abusers.
The Rochdale case involved abuse in 2008 and 2009, but was not prosecuted until 2012 (i.e. more than 12 months) . Any Communications Data used must have been already in the possession of the Police as a result of their previous ongoing inquiries i.e. it was not 12 month Retained Communications Data as per the EU Directive or the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.
The fact that the abuse in Oxford was allowed to continue from 2004 to 2012 is a scandalous indictment of the local authorities, police and the local community, not a justification for blanket Retention of Communications Data belonging to the rest of the country.
Neither case should be used be used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.
Are there "freedom moles" in the Home Office, who are being ignored by Parliament ?
Is it possible that there are allies of freedom and privacy working within the Home Office, deliberately choosing examples of cases with weak or non-existent justification for blanket, catch all, 12 month Communications Data Retention, but that this has gone unnoticed by the Parliamentarians who are supposed to be scrutinising the detail of DRIP and RIPA legislation ?
If this hypothesis is true, then we welcome attempts by honourable civil servants to weaken the Government's attempts to introduce more repressive "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" laws and regulations, it is a pity that Members of Parliament and Peers are missing the signals.
The alternative hypothesis is that there is no actual proportionate business case for 12 months blanket Data Retention but the Home Office legislation team latched on to some high profile cases (mostly involving children) to produce a "tabloid newspaper" propaganda justification, something which is a breach of the Civil Service Code.