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U.K. surveillance laws may be illegal

The United Kingdom's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which gives U.K. law enforcement agencies access to consumers' mobile phone and Internet data, may be illegal, according to U.K. information commissioner Elizabeth France. The act, passed two years ago, may violate human rights laws because of a loophole under which law enforcement agencies may access data that has been retained specifically for use in cases involving national security. The information commissioner warned the U.K. government's Home Office of this conflict in a legal opinion issued this week.

RIPA has long been attacked by privacy advocates and those who maintain that its provisions will prove to be a huge burden on ISPs (Internet service providers). A U.K. provision coming into force on Thursday will require ISPs to be able to intercept and store electronic communications including e-mails, faxes and Web surfing data, but the Home Office has not yet detailed how the companies involved will be reimbursed.

ZDNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London.

To read the full story, visit ZDNet U.K.