Revealed: 439,000 snooping requests made

And 4,000 errors...
Written by Gemma Simpson, Contributor on

And 4,000 errors...

UK security and law enforcement agencies made nearly 439,000 requests to monitor people's phone calls, emails and post during a 15-month period, the spying watchdog has revealed.

But nearly 4,000 errors in requests were also reported within the same period between 1 January 2005 and 31 March 2006, according to a report from the Interceptions of Communications Commissioner (ICC).

The ICC oversees the activities of 795 public bodies - including 52 police forces and intelligence services MI5 and MI6.

Sir Swinton Thomas, the interceptions of communications commissioner, said in the report: "This [the error count] may seem a large number but it is very small when compared to the overall number of requests for communications data which totalled 439,054 during the same period."

silicon.com Public Sector

Get the latest public sector news straight to your inbox. Sign up for the PS newsletter today!

Out of the 3,972 errors made, 66 were interception errors and breaches – an increase on 45 such errors reported during 2004.

Thomas said the number of errors is unacceptably high but the relevant intelligence and law enforcement agencies having been under extreme pressure, with some employees working round the clock during this period.

Thomas added: "At times such as these it is more likely, and more understandable, that mistakes may be made."

Editorial standards