Monday, 18 June 2012


Every year, around 130 million postcards are sent to people in Britain. And according to the Draft Communications Data Bill, the Home Office wants to know what we’re saying on them.
The draft Bill is clear:
 “postal item” means—
 (a) any letter, postcard or other such thing in writing as may be used by the sender for imparting information to the recipient, or
 (b) any packet or parcel,
and for the purposes of this definition “data”, in relation to a postal item, includes anything written on the outside of the item.”
So, communications data includes anything written on the outside of the item – which in the case of postcards is, well, the content of the message.
This goes against both assurances that there were no plans to read messages, and also the claim this is about the ability to track internet communications.
Already the detail of the bill is unraveling. We were told this was about new technology and yet buried in the detail are powers to track the postcards and letters we send.
Postal services are explicitly included in these unprecedented surveillance plans, with the draft Bill making clear anything written on the outside of a letter or postcard can be recorded. If there are no plans to use these powers then why on earth are they in the draft Bill at all? Yet again the Home Office is trying it’s luck to see just how much surveillance of innocent people it can push through and doing its best to avoid scrutiny.