Jul 222012
 
 July 22, 2012  Govt, Non-U.S., Online, Surveillance

Lauren Riley reports:

Liverpool City Council staff are taking on the role of Big Brother after being given the power to snoop on people on sites such as Facebook for “enforcement purposes”.

The review of staff at Liverpool City Council found that the use of social networking sites was “appropriate” and those using these mediums was “doing so proprely”.

A recommendation by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) prompted the review which cleared officers to take a Big Brother role in their detective work.

In the last year the council has used surveillance on 28 occasions for crimes such as sales of alcohol or tobacco to underage teenagers and an exercise about the sale of knives to children.

Read more on Click Liverpool.

So are they gaining access to non-public information on social media sites or are they only viewing public posts and tweets? It sounds like the former, but the reporter does not explain how the council is requesting info or how social media sites are responding.  Does anyone have additional information on this?

  3 Responses to “Liverpool City Council staff allowed to snoop on Facebook”

  1. The relevant documents are here:

    http://councillors.liverpool.gov.uk/documents/s103417/CTTEE%20Report%20July%202012%20-%20Agenda%20version.pdf
    http://councillors.liverpool.gov.uk/documents/s103418/POLICY%20JUNE%202012%20-%20DRAFT.pdf

    The draft policy does consider the possibility of access to non-public information, using the Covert Human Intelligence Surveillance provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The much-maligned RIPA is actually not all bad – after all, it’s about *regulation* of investigations, and imports key human rights considerations into the key provisions. This means that any attempt to access non-public information would have to meet the tests of lawfulness, necessity and proportionality. It would also require authorisation from a designated officer of the Council. From later this year, additionally, it would require authorisation by a magistrate.

    I would have thought it would be unlikely to happen, but I may be wrong.

    • Thank you! As you can probably guess, for non-public info, I think a warrant should be required. Letting a council officer determine this is an invitation to overuse and abuse.

      • Yes, and in fairness to them, that’s pretty much what our legislature have said, in passing the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (which introduces into RIPA the requirement for most local authority authorisations to be approved by a magistrate).

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