Police e-snooping manual leaked

Criminals could go free to keep surveillance techniques secret

Techniques used by the police to access internet and telephone records are to be kept so secret that criminal prosecutions may be abandoned to prevent their disclosure.

According to a classified police manual leaked to The Guardian, law enforcement agencies will be expected to seek controversial Public Interest Immunity certificates to prevent any exposure of the technology at a trial.

The use of the certificates was heavily criticised by Lord Scott in his arms-to-Iraq inquiry.

In cases where this tactic is inappropriate, and sensitive material is at risk of disclosure, the Crown Prosecution Service may advise that the prosecutions be stayed, according to the manual.

It also acknowledges that the ability to access communications logs without first seeking the permission of a judge gives powers to the UK police which are far in excess of those enjoyed by their counterparts in most other countries.

"In many other countries this process requires a judicial order," the manual says. "There is a need to balance this important power against the right to privacy and to ensure that it is properly used."

News source: vnunet.com

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