New research indicates that Police forces across the UK have requested access to communications data 700,000 times in the past three years and the majority of these requests were granted.
Privacy group Big Brother Watch conducted the study by sending Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all local authorities in January – of which, 92% responded.
The FOI requests asked the council in quested to explain the number of times its Police force requested access to communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the number of times such a request was rejected internally from January 2012 to January 2015.
A total of 733,237 requests were made by the responding organisations, the equivalent of 670 requests a day or 28 requests every hour.
Just 54,164 requests were rejected, whilst 679,072 were accepted and 26 of Police forces showed an increased number of requests, while 11 showed falling numbers.
On average, 96% of all requests are internally approved with an average of just 4% being refused, which Big Brother Watch claims demonstrates a disparity amongst Police forces on what is considered necessary and proportionate for a request for communications data.
“Despite persistent claims that the Police’s access to Communications Data is diminishing, this report shows that the Police are continuing to access vast amounts of data on citizens,” the report claims.
“Claims of a 25% capability gap – the gap between the amount of Communications Data created and the ability for the Police to access it – are therefore clearly overstated,” it adds.
The news follows on from last week, when the Queen opened the new Parliament for the first time and revealed the Snooper’s Charter, which would increase surveillance abilities, was back on the agenda.