UK border force comes under fire for data seizing policy

Jordan O'Brien
July 15, 2013

The NSA, GCHQ and the French authorities all came under fire thanks to their controversial snooping programs, but if you think that’s where it ends then we’ve got a surprise in store for you.

The UK border force has come under fire after a report from the Telegraph revealed that under anti-terrorism laws the agency could seize mobile device data from anyone they wanted to — and what’s more is that it could retain the data for as long as it deemed fit.

According to the Telegraph’s report, the agency has the right to download everything from your mobile device, including photos, contact lists and even call logs — with the ability to retain this data even if the person is permitted to proceed into the country.

If there was one silver lining in this report it is that the agency is still barred from seizing the contents of emails or text messages, but it can still see who you have been messaging.

Statistics show that 60,000 people are stopped each year by the UK border force, meaning the policy could see wide adoption, although exact numbers of people who have had their data seized remains unknown.

Dr Gus Hosein from campaign group, Privacy International, spoke to the Telegraph and said that he was “extremely concerned by these intrusive tactics.”

The Metropolitan Police, who is responsible for counter-terrorism in the UK has downplayed the policy, speaking to the Telegraph a spokesman said: “As with any power to detain an individual it is used appropriately and proportionally and is always subject to scrutiny by an independent reviewer of UK anti-terror laws.”

With this just being the latest privacy concern to be uncovered, it’s likely that we’ll see a few more before the whole thing blows over.

About the Author

Jordan O'Brien

Technology Journalist with an unhealthy obsession with trains and American TV. Attempts satire far too often. (+44) 020 7324 3502

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