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    Snoopers Charter in Britian following Paris attacks

    Cameron Calls for Snoopers Charter Following Paris Attacks

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    British Prime Minister David Cameron has met the chiefs of the UK intelligence agencies to discuss passing into law further legislations to allow them to have comprehensive access to communications data, following the Paris attacks last week.

    Cameron's government had tried to enact the draft Communications Data Bill (known as the Snooper's Charter) to force phone companies to maintain records (but not the content) of people's internet browsing activity (including social media), email correspondence, voice calls, internet gaming, and mobile phone messaging services and store the records for 12 months. 

    However, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg withdrew his support for the bill in April 2013, forcing Cameron to shelve his plans until the next parliament, after May 2015.

    The Paris attacks, which started when 12 people were killed in a terrorist shooting spree at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, followed by further shootings and hostage-taking, have forced Cameron to push for further powers on behalf of the intelligence services.

    In July 2014, the UK government was forced to pass emergency legislation, under the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Act to maintain existing powers to allow MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to track communications data, including phone and internet traffic data, following a European Court of Justice ruling on data retention.

    But the act included a termination clause that ensures the legislation falls at the end of 2016 and the next government will be forced to look again at these powers between now and 2016.

    Cameron Calls for Comprehensive Approach

    After the atrocities in Paris in the last week, Cameron said he would look again at getting the Snooper's Charter enacted in the event that his party held power following the 2015 general election.

    He told reporters: "We do need to modernise our rules about interception. What we said is that law will automatically fall in 2016, so a future government, whether it is led by me or led by someone else, will have to confront this issue and legislate.

    "I have a very simple approach to this issue which is that ever since we faced these terrorist threats it has always been possible, in extremis, with the signature of a warrant from the home secretary, to intercept your communications, my communications, or anyone else, if there is a threat of terrorism. That is applied whether you are sending a letter, whether you are making a phone call, whether you are using a mobile phone, or whether you are using the internet. I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the home secretary, to be exempt from being listened to.

    "That is my very clear view and if I am prime minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly. Obviously we are in a coalition. We have made progress on this issue by passing the new law which makes sure we protect some of the abilities we have to stop terrorists. But as I say, in 2016 when this law comes to an end, a future government will have to have a more comprehensive approach and I know absolutely that if I am prime minister I will put that approach in place."

    However, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said he would not support a new Snooper's Charter. He said on TV: "We have got to be cautious and considered in these areas. We insisted, when some emergency legislation was passed last summer, that a proper review was done by the independent reviewer of terrorism.

    "Let us take a considered look at this, let us take a considered look at what is necessary for the country to keep us safe and maintain our liberties. On this issue of the security services we should always be looking at and making sure they have got proper resources being deployed properly to counter the threat we face."

    On Monday, a Downing Street spokesperson said Cameron held a security meeting in Downing Street to review the Paris attacks and the risks to the UK of a similar attack.

    "Following an intelligence update, they discussed the UK's preparedness for similar incidents. The relevant police and agencies regularly carry out exercises to test their response to a terror attack, including scenarios similar to the incidents in Paris. The meeting agreed that for future exercises, the relevant agencies should identify whether there are any further specific elements of the Paris attack that should be built into the exercise scenarios," the spokesperson said.

    With Britain already on the ‘severe' security threat from terrorism, according to the intelligence services, the fallout from the Paris attacks are likely to have long-lasting effects on privacy, with spooks having much more access to data than ever before. Whether it is enough to stop another Charlie Hebdo in Britain is another question, as terrorists are increasingly using the dark web to cover up their activities. 

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