Greg Callus’s excellent post dissects in documented detail some of the problems with the RIPA regulatory mechanism – and why therefore simply extending the range of data that can be accessed under RIPA would be extending the range of data that can be accessed without proper control.
Sometimes, there isn’t time for a written request [for access to communications data about someone] because of an imminent threat to life and limb, and so the Urgent Oral procedure kicks in – the SPoC will normally be rudely awoken by a police officer explaining they have (eg) an urgent terrorism/kidnapping situation, and they need a notification to be sent to the CSP urgently. This happened over 31,000 times last year, up from around 21,000 times the year before, and around 87% of police forces were good or satisfactory in their post-haste record keeping which is a statutory requirement if there isn’t paperwork at the time.
How many of these tens of thousands of urgent oral requests went unrecorded? I can’t tell you, because the very presence of an oral procedure with a less-than-perfect score for record-keeping means that there could be any number of applications for private Communications Data that have never been logged.
How can the oral authorisation of interception (without warrant) on this sort of scale possibly be within the intention of Parliament? …
[These requests are a burden on communications providers], and they are compensated by the public purse. I’m sure the illicit ‘pings’ ordered by news editors would have looked entirely innocent to the CSPs, and probably would have been billed back to the police force, or the Secretary of State in the normal way.
The irony of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal is that if you’re a taxpayer, you probably helped pay for those exclusives.