Government accused of "burying" launch of "Snooper's Charter"


The Government has been accused of using the Prime Minister's appearance at the Leveson inquiry to divert attention away from the publication of the Communications Data Bill.

The controversial legislation is set to provide law enforcement agencies with access to communications data, including texts and emails, to help detect criminal activity.

Since it was first announced, the Bill has been a regular source of contention for civil liberties campaigners, who claim it breaches people's right to privacy.

This is despite repeated assurances from the Government that the contents of these communications will not be monitored.

"[The] data includes the time and duration of the communication, the telephone number or email address which has been contacted and sometimes the location of the originator of the communication," the draft Bill stated.

The contents of the Bill is set to be published imminently and will be picked over by privacy campaigners and MPs at an event in central London this afternoon, which IT Pro will be reporting from.

In the meantime, the Open Rights Group who will be participating in this afternoon's debate has queried the timing of the Bill's announcement.

"Today [David] Cameron is appearing at the Leveson Inquiry, and at the same time the government is releasing its plans to snoop on the internet," said Jim Killock, ORG's executive director.

"This is a very bad sign that they want to bury bad news."

A similar view was shared by fellow privacy group, Big Brother Watch, in a blog post earlier today.

"Aside from the blatant spin of announcing unprecedented spying powers during the PM's testimony to the Leveson enquiry, the Home Office is trying to hide an unprecedented level of surveillance of the entire population," it said.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.