Petition – RIPA and spying on journalists

PLEASE GIVE your consideration to signing the Press Gazette petition calling for Interception Commissioner Sir Anthony May to take action to ensure the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is not used by public authorities to secretly obtain journalists' phone records and identify confidential sources.

The Press Gazette campaign has already - at the point at which it received around 1000 signatures - apparently prompted Sir Anthony to order all UK police forces to reveal and instances in which they have used RIPA to spy on journalists by grabbing their phone records without a warrant from a judge - usually to uncover journalists' sources. The Interception Commissioner had now ordered an enquiry into the practice.

The Met used RIPA to seize the phone records of Sun journalist Newton Dunn, to uncover police whistleblowers who had passed details of the "plebgate" affair to the press.

And it's not just police that have been using RIPA against journalists. The Derby Telegraph discovered that Derby Council employed RIPA powers in an apparently rather amateurish 2010 "direct surveillance" operation that involved two members of the council's audit department snooping on a Telegraph journalist and their sources meeting in Starbucks.

Detractors of the Human Rights Act (the dissing of which is a suddenly fashionable pastime right now) may like to note that it has been invoked on numerous occasions to curb the excesses or RIPA, such as councils spying on parents suspected of school catchment area fraud.

Last modified: 03 Nov 2014 - © 2014 contributors
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