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Queen's speech: government works to improve IP matching in criminal investigations

The government might revive the snooper's charter

By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 8 May 2013 at 15:44

The government may revisit its controversial Communications Data bill, the so-called "snooper’s charter" that proposes giving security agencies more access to communications data.

The Queen opened a new session of Parliament today, outlining the coalition’s legislative programme in her speech, and carefully referenced plans to "enable the investigation of crime in cyberspace."

"In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace," she said.

As expected, the wider bill was dropped from the speech after deputy PM Nick Clegg vetoed the proposals in April. At the time, it seemed that the bill could be dropped entirely as Clegg said legislation wouldn’t happen while his party was in government. Clegg did concede at the time that the issue of matching IP addresses still needed to be addressed.

The Queen’s speech seemed to suggest that the government would keep a narrow focus on matching IP addresses to individuals, something that has become more problematic with the growing popularity of mobile devices, which hinders criminal investigations. But additional sources have told The Guardian that legislation could take place after all, with home secretary Theresa May still hoping to resurrect the wider bill, which gives agencies licence to track emails, calls and social media data.

"This is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public, it is about ensuring that police and other law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to investigate the activities of criminals that take place online as well as offline," said a Downing Street briefing note.

A resurrection of the bill would likely cause uproar among privacy campaigners, with academics dismissing the plans as "naive and technically dangerous" in a letter last year. Critics added that the measures were open to abuse and an infraction on individuals’ privacy.

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User comments

If they already know that they are criminals then the investigation is over. What they mean is that they want powers to investigate *suspected* criminals.
Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking - of course no rightminded person could possibly disagree with snooping on *criminals*, but that isn't what is actually going to happen here - they are going to snoop on whomever they please, on suspicioin that they might be a criminal. I might be a criminal, snoop on me?

By martindaler on 8 May 2013

Define "criminal"

Because when I think of "criminal" I am thinking of drug-dealers, human traffickers, retailers who charge £6.99 for eBooks etc.

But they seem to mean 12yr olds downloading a Justin Bieber track (surely it's own punishment?) and Uncle Bob downloading last week's "Game of Thrones". Not really in the same prison wing are they?

Well, with BT started down the IP sharing route, good luck with that one bucko!

By cheysuli on 8 May 2013

Queen's speech: government works to improve IP matching in criminal investigations Read more: Queen's speech: government works to improve IP matching in criminal investigations | Security | News | PC

So how much 'proof' would be needed for access to be granted to some one's private info?

By invalidscreenname on 8 May 2013

Did someone mention carrier-grade NAT?

By PaulOckenden on 8 May 2013


Come on, these are politicians we're taking here - the same group who in a debate a few years ago thought IP Address stood for Intellectual Property Address. The ramifications of carrier-grade NAT and IP sharing are going to be way beyond their comprehension.

The proposals are unworkable, but they're probably not too bothered about that as it will effectively give them a free hand to snoop on anyone if they feel like doing so.

By valeofyork on 8 May 2013

So the same basic issues remain, I also read on the BBC that they're talking about using e.g. MAC address which can be an equally flawed.

By tech3475 on 8 May 2013


One only has to look at the systematic abuse of RIPA by councils for trivial and non-criminal offences already to see how this would escalate.

By Fraz_pro on 9 May 2013

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