Interesting snippet in the latest newsletter from the Open Rights Group:
It was revealed last week that the Met police accessed the telephone records of The Sun’s Political Editor, Tom Newton Dunn, using a RIPA request.
The case should end any discussion about whether or not metadata reveals anything personal about us: Newton Dunn’s calls and when and where they were received, were seen as enough to identify a whistleblower, who contacted him over the Plebgate scandal.
Journalistic privilege, protected by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, was circumvented by the use of RIPA. Newton Dunn was not even aware that his records had been accessed until the Met published their report into the Plebgate affair.
When DRIP was announced, Newton Dunn wrote in The Sun, that the new powers would give MI5 and cops, “crucial access to plotters’ mobile phone records”. UK public authorities use RIPA over 500,000 a year to access private data. The police refused to answer questions as to how many times they have have accessed journalists’ data. When this is happening without our knowledge, we cannot ignore the threat to our civil liberties that data retention poses.
The interesting bit is the fact that the metadata were sufficient to identify a whistleblower. We all knew that, of course, but the official line is still that bulk collection of metadata does not infringe on privacy.