THURROCK Council have revealed that they have increased their “snooping” activities by 70% over the last year.
The controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) regulates the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications.
In April 2008, it became known that council officials in Dorset put three children and their parents under surveillance, governed by RIPA, at home and in their daily movements to check whether they lived in a particular school catchment area.
Thurrock Council used their surveillance powers to pursue suspected fraudsters as well as possible contraventions of trading standard regulations.
RIPA can be invoked by government officials specified in the Act on the grounds of national security, and for the purposes of detecting crime, preventing disorder, public safety, protecting public health, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.
Critics claim that the spectres of terrorism, internet crime and paedophilia were used to push the act through and that there was little substantive debate in the House of Commons. The act has numerous critics, many of whom regard the RIPA regulations as excessive and a threat to civil liberties in the UK.