We now have written answers to the questions that Chris and Jackie asked at Full Council last month. Here’s the first one:
?According to the Daily Telegraph on the 13 October: ?Statutory instruments allow the Government to alter laws without a full act of Parliament, i.e. by ministerial fiat. The 795 organisations now privy to your telephone records include the tax authorities, the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, the Immigration Service, the Gaming Board and your local authority.?
Is it true that this Council now has the power to access individual’s telephone records? If true, in what circumstances would this power be used and who has the authority to use it??
?Local Authorities have had power to access limited communications data on telephone usage since 5 January 2004 under the provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
This is restricted to criminal investigations and public protection and would principally relate to serious fraud, health and safety & environmental offences.
Access to data is strictly controlled and independently regulated by the Interception of Communications Commissioner and its use is also subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Information can only be accessed in accordance with the prescribed procedure by a senior authorised officer appointed for this purpose who has received the required training and accreditation. The Council’s Revenue and Benefits Manager and the Senior Fraud Officer are so authorised.
Since the power has been available one access request has been made in connection with a fraud investigation. The powers of the police have been recently extended under the 2000 Act to require encrypted data to be put into an intelligible form, these changes do not affect local authorities.?
We’ll file this away under ‘something that a councillor should be aware of.’….