The UK’s Communications Data Bill, which has been designed for electronics, could be used to monitor your snail mail too.
The law means that ISPs have to store data on all letters and postcards passing through its system.
However the fear is that the way it is worded it could force the Royal Mail to do the same thing.
This will remove the age old belief that an English man’s post is sacrosanct at least without a court order.
According to the BBC, the Home Office knows the law covers this but that it has “no current plans” to force the Royal Mail to monitor mail.
But really that is a little worrying. After all it might have some plans later on, after the dust has settled.
If the Communications Bill does get through, it will be under some bogus pretext that it is trying to save the world from terrorists.
The Home Office said the draft bill would just maintain existing powers relating to postal data and only data about mail, not its actual contents, would be retained if the law was ever enacted.
In other words the Post Office would need to scan a snap of every envelop and store it for up to a year.
Under the draft bill, the Royal Mail and other postal services could be asked to retain “anything written on the outside” of items for up to 12 months so they can be accessed by the police, security services and HM Revenue and Customs.
Quite how that will help anyone even in the spying market is totally unclear. It assumes that each letter will have information on the outside about who and where it comes from.
It would work if each letter was signed Blofeld, C/- Volcanic Island lair, Scotland. But too often criminal capers do not involve such wholesale give aways. Rarely does a paedophile mark their post “contains snaps of children being raped” on the envelope and none of the parcels containing anthrax warned about their contents or had the pode code of the terriorist who sent them.
The law has been dubbed a “snooper’s charter” by civil liberties groups but strangely it is also a bankruptcy charter too. The Bill includes provision to help postal services and other communications providers with the cost of installing new equipment to comply with any laws, estimated to be £1.8 billion over the next decade.