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    Watchdog Says UK Police Ignores Journalists Freedom of Speech

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    The head of Interception of Communications Commissioner's Officer (IOCCO) blames the British police for disregarding the freedom of speech. The police reportedly used counterterrorism laws to obtain reporters' sources of information.

    EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – British police did not give "sufficient consideration" to freedom of speech when they sought access to journalists' phone and internet records, a UK government-appointed surveillance watchdog told Sputnik Friday.

    "The police forces did not give the question of necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion sufficient consideration," Jo Cavan, head of Interception of Communications Commissioner's Officer (IOCCO) told the Sputnik news agency.

    On Wednesday, the IOCCO issued a report for British Prime Minister David Cameron in which it claimed that over the past three years UK police have made over 600 requests to uncover reporters' confidential sources using anti-terror legislation.

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    Cavan told Sputnik that police had concentrated on Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, covering privacy, while ignoring Article 10 – freedom of speech – when considering request applications to gain access to journalists' records.

    Asked by Sputnik whether he thought the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) by police raised concerns that legislation in this area had been poorly drafted and did not provide enough safeguards to protect the subjects' rights, in this case journalists, Cavan responded, "My guess would be that at the time the legislation for communications data was drafted it was thought that provisions were not required as communications data does not relate to the content of communications, i.e. what was spoken or written."

    The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) for England and Wales declined to answer specific questions from Sputnik about the perceived political use of RIPA to uncover journalists' sources.

    The IOCCO is a British surveillance watchdog that reviews the interception of communications and the disclosure of communications data. It prepares a report for the British prime minister every six months.


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