Monday, 9 June 2008

Don't worry, councils only spy on bad people (mostly)

(Ed: This Guardian Comment is meant to be reassuring.)

[...] Despite what many people may believe, local council officials are not authorised to tap the phone conversations of the public. They do not have the legal power nor the technical capability. They can't get hold of the content of phone calls or emails.

What they are actually empowered to do is more prosaic: if they have a phone number but don't know who it belongs to, they can get from the phone company the name of the owner. They also get what is called "billing information" - the list of outgoing calls and how long each call lasted. Similarly, council officials can see the details of email traffic, but not copies of the actual emails. The officials are also authorised to covertly watch a target. Read more
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