A number of countries are trying to add more provisions to their laws to enable them a greater control over the flow of data. This is being done on the pretext of security and the data includes both digital as well as non-digital data.
The interesting part is that even in this digital age, UK authorities want to keep tabs on the postal mail. One particular provision in the proposed Communications law grants this.
However, trying to address the concerns of the common users regarding the privacy of their data, Home Office said that even if this provision of the bill was enacted, it wouldn’t be used to snoop and read the content of the physical mail of the users. Rather, the law will be used to retain the information regarding the mail, for instance whatever is written on the outside of say, a letter.
This kind of information can then be stored for up to 12 months so that the police as well as security services can assess it and it would involve the postal bulk from Royal Mail and other postal services.
The spokesman for Home Office further stated, “It does not cover the interception of contents, which will continue to be covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and require a warrant signed by the Secretary of State. In a very small number of cases, law enforcement or intelligence agencies might have to obtain the communications data of a suspect’s mail, but there are currently no requirements to retain postal data and there are no plans for that to change.”
So in all, perhaps such a provision is not yet a cause of such huge concern for common citizens. Nonetheless, if the UK authorities may tow this line, they may eventually start demanding more access to user’s communications data.