Monday, 29 October 2007

The Duty of the Photographer

Out From Behind a Camera at a Khmer Torture House

When I read this I have very mixed emotions, looking at images of people who were tortured just after they had their photo taken. Most look as if they are posing for the family album, but they dont smile, others look afraid...and others have been tortured! (Lifespy)

Published: October 26, 2007

NYTimes story here

the photos are here

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Oct. 25 — He had a job to do, and he did it supremely well, under threat of death, within earshot of screams of torture: methodically photographing Khmer Rouge prisoners and producing a haunting collection of mug shots that has become the visual symbol of Cambodia’s mass killings

Back Story With Seth Mydans and Graham Bowley (mp3)
Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

Before killing the prisoners, the Khmer Rouge photographed, tortured and extracted written confessions from their victims.

“I’m just a photographer; I don’t know anything,” he said he told the newly arrived prisoners as he removed their blindfolds and adjusted the angles of their heads. But he knew, as they did not, that every one of them would be killed.

“I had my job, and I had to take care of my job,” he said in a recent interview. “Each of us had our own responsibilities. I wasn’t allowed to speak with prisoners.”

That was three decades ago, when the photographer, Nhem En, now 47, was on the staff of Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979.

This week he was called to be a witness at a coming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, including his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch, who has been arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.

The trial is still months away, but prosecutors are interviewing witnesses, reviewing tens of thousands of pages of documents and making arrests.

As a lower-ranking cadre at the time, Mr. Nhem En is not in jeopardy of arrest. But he is in a position to offer some of the most personal testimony at the trial about the man he worked under for three years.

In the interview, Mr. Nhem En spoke with pride of living up to the exacting standards of a boss who was a master of negative reinforcement.

“It was really hard, my job,” he said. “I had to clean, develop and dry the pictures on my own and take them to Duch by my own hand. I couldn’t make a mistake. If one of the pictures was lost I would be killed.”

But he said: “Duch liked me because I’m clean and I’m organized. He gave me a Rolex watch.”

Fleeing with other Khmer Rouge cadres when the government was ousted by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Mr. Nhem En said he traded that watch for 20 tins of milled rice.

Since then he has adapted and prospered and is now a deputy mayor of the former Khmer Rouge stronghold Anlong Veng. He has switched from an opposition party to the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and today he wears a wristwatch that bears twin portraits of the prime minister and his wife, Bun Rany.

Last month an international tribunal arrested and charged a second Khmer Rouge figure, who is now being held with Duch in a detention center. He is Nuon Chea, 82, the movement’s chief ideologue and a right-hand man to the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

Three more leaders were expected to be arrested in the coming weeks: the urbane former Khmer Rouge head of state, Khieu Samphan, along with the former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, and his wife and fellow central committee member, Ieng Thirith.

All will benefit from the caprice of Mr. Nuon Chea, who complained that the squat toilet in his cell was hurting his ailing knees and was given a sit-down toilet.

Similar toilets are being installed in the other cells, said a tribunal spokesman, Reach Sambath, “So they will all enjoy high-standard toilets when they come.”

It is not clear whether any of the cases will be combined. But even if the defendants do not see one another, their testimony, harmonious or discordant, will put on display the relationships of some of the people who once ran the country’s killing machine.

In a 1999 interview, Duch implicated his fellow prisoner, Mr. Nuon Chea, in the killings, citing among other things a directive that said, “Kill them all.”

Mr. Nhem En’s career in the Khmer Rouge began in 1970 at age 9 when he was recruited as a village boy to be a drummer in a touring revolutionary band. When he was 16, he said, he was sent to China for a seven-month course in photography.

He became the chief of six photographers at Tuol Sleng, where at least 14,000 people were tortured to death or sent to killing fields. Only a half dozen inmates were known to have survived.

He was a craftsman, and some of his portraits, carefully posed and lighted, have found their way into art galleries in the United States.

Hundreds of them hang in rows on the walls of Tuol Sleng, which is now a museum, their fixed stares tempting a visitor to search for meaning here on the cusp of death. In fact, they are staring at Mr. Nhem En.

The job was a daily grind, he said: up at 6:30 a.m., a quick communal meal of bread or rice and something sweet, and at his post by 7 a.m. to wait for prisoners to arrive. His telephone would ring to announce them: sometimes one, sometimes a group, sometimes truckloads of them, he said.

“They came in blindfolded, and I had to untie the cloth,” he said.

“I was alone in the room, so I am the one they saw. They would say, ‘Why was I brought here? What am I accused of? What did I do wrong?’”

But Mr. Nhem En ignored them.

“‘Look straight ahead. Don’t lean your head to the left or the right.’ That’s all I said,” he recalled. “I had to say that so the picture would turn out well. Then they were taken to the interrogation center. The duty of the photographer was just to take the picture.”

View the Khmer Rouge photographs (

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Whistleblower? Journalist? Citizen journalist? or just Censored?


Whistleblower? Journalist? Citizen journalist? Wikileaks writer,
volunteer, supporter or techie? Get advice and talk with other people
like you on the Wikileaks secure chat (also good for safe interviews
with anonymous sources).


Click "chat" to the right. Click into the box at the bottom of the
chat page and and start typing. For greater reliability and ease of
use, you can install a chat program as described below. Our chat
system is designed to work on almost any browser in any country. It
has minimal bandwidth requirements and will even work over dialups or
mobile phones.
We will create sub-channels (e.g for the Kenyan election) if there is
sufficient demand (let us know!).

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Yahoo accused of misleading Congress about Chinese journalist

DSC_0630_en, originally uploaded by Radical_Images.

CNN) -- Yahoo misled Congress regarding information the Internet company gave to Chinese authorities about the journalist Shi Tao, Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos said Tuesday.

Yahoo officials have been asked to testify before a House committee in November about a Chinese journalist's case.

Lantos, a California representative and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked Yahoo Inc. officials to testify about the company's role in a case that sent Chinese newspaper writer and editor Shi to prison on a 10-year sentence.

Lantos asked Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Callahan to appear November 6.

"Our committee has established that Yahoo provided false information to Congress in early 2006," Lantos said in a written statement. "We want to clarify how that happened, and to hold the company to account for its actions both before and after its testimony proved untrue. And we want to examine what steps the company has taken since then to protect the privacy rights of its users in China."

The newspaper reporter had posted information under a pseudonym on an overseas Web site called Democracy Forum about a government crackdown on media and democracy activists, Lantos said.

Shi was later arrested in his home in Beijing after Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about his e-mail account, his computer address, his log-on history and the contents of several weeks of his e-mail, Lantos said.

Lantos said a Yahoo official testified last year that the company knew nothing "about the nature of the investigation" of Shi, a pro-democracy activist now serving time on what Lantos called "trumped-up charges."

Don't Miss
China puts the squeeze on Web controls
"We have now learned there is much more to the story than Yahoo let on, and a Chinese government document that Yahoo had in their possession at the time of the hearing left little doubt of the government's intentions," said Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.

"U.S. companies must hold the line and not work hand in glove with the secret police."

In a written statement, Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Yahoo representatives have been truthful with Congress. He called the House committee's accusation "grossly unfair" and said it "mischaracterizes the nature and intent of our past testimony."

During a February 2006 subcommittee hearing on limits to freedom on the Internet in China, Lantos and Smith questioned Callahan about Shi.

Callahan testified to the subcommittee that Yahoo handed over the information to Chinese authorities at a time when it knew nothing about the investigation, Lantos said.

But the San Francisco, California-based human-rights group The Dui Hua Foundation released documents in July indicating police in China had written to Yahoo saying they were seeking evidence about Shi for illegally "providing state secrets to foreign entities," a charge frequently levied against political dissidents in China.

"This new documentation suggests that Yahoo's Beijing office was at least aware of the general nature of the crime being investigated in the Shi Tao case," said Joshua Rosenzweig, manager of research and publications for The Dui Hua Foundation.

Even if Yahoo was unaware of the specific circumstances of the Chinese government's inquiry, "One does not have to be an expert in Chinese law to know that 'state secrets' charges have often been used to punish political dissent in China," said Rosenzweig.

Shi has appealed his 10-year sentence for divulging state secrets, saying he did not know the information he shared was classified. He accused the police of using improper procedures in the investigation and arrest.

In addition, he has filed suit in U.S. federal court against Yahoo and its Hong Kong-based subsidiary.

Yahoo's spokeswoman said the company is working with other companies and the human rights community "to develop a global code of conduct for operating in countries around the world, including China."

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Menezes picture 'was manipulated'

A composite image of Hussain Osman and Jean Charles de Menezes
The defence said the image was to show identification problems

Police have been accused of manipulating a photo of Jean Charles de
Menezes so it could be compared to that of one of the 21/7 bomb

The image had been "stretched and sized" to form a
composite image of the Brazilian and Hussain Osman to show the jury,
prosecutors told the Old Bailey.

Mr de Menezes was shot dead after being wrongly identified as one of the men who targeted London's transport system.

The Metropolitan Police denies breaking health and safety laws.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot seven times in the head on a
train at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005, after being wrongly
identified as Osman.

The Met Police said the composite picture was created to
illustrate the difficulties officers would have had in differentiating
the two men.

'Serious allegation'

But Clare Montgomery QC, prosecuting, told the court it
had been altered "by either stretching or resizing so the face ceases
to have its correct proportions".

The judge, Mr Justice Henriques, told the jury: "A
serious allegation has been made that a picture has been manipulated so
as to mislead."

Making the image brighter has changed the image

Michael George, forensics consultant

Forensics consultant Michael George told the court that
the police composite appeared to have a "greater definition" than the
two images used to produce it.

He produced an alternative composite, shown to the jury,
in which the two faces have different skin tones and their mouths and
noses are not aligned.

Ronald Thwaites QC, defending, asked Mr George whether there had been any manipulation "of the primary features of the face".

Mr George replied: "I don't believe there has been any... but making the image brighter has changed the image."

The court heard the composite was compiled using a 2001
identity card photograph of Mr de Menezes and a photo of Osman taken by
police in Rome, where he was arrested.

Immigration records

Earlier, Mr Thwaites cross-examined immigration official
Paul Roach over a counterfeit stamp found in the Brazilian's passport,
asking if this meant he had been in the country illegally.

Mr Roach told the court Mr de Menezes first entered the
country on 13 March 2002 and was given six months' leave to remain,
before extending his stay, as a student, to 30 June 2003.

The next record was of him arriving in Ireland from
France on 23 April 2005 but there was no notification of when he
returned to the UK.

The court heard how as a person entering Britain from
Ireland, he would have had an automatic three-month leave to remain
which at the earliest would have run out on 23 July, the day after he
was killed.

A counterfeit stamp found on his passport may only have been added after he entered the UK, Mr Roach said.

The trial continues.

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Monday, 8 October 2007

Interpol reverse photoshop to reveal face of sex offender


Interpol have released a photograph of a suspected sex offender after
managed to undo Photoshop actions designed to obscure the man's

Interpol has launched an unprecedented global public
appeal to help identify a man shown sexually abusing children in
photographs posted on the internet.

The man appears in about 200 images depicting the abuse
of 12 boys, which police said were taken in Vietnam and Cambodia,
possibly in 2002 and 2003.

The pictures had been digitally altered but police computer specialists have produced identifiable images.

Interpol says the man is a danger to children while he remains at large.

Interpol chief Ronald Noble said: "We have tried all other means to identify and to bring him to justice.

"We are now convinced that without the public's help
this sexual predator could continue to rape and sexually abuse young
children whose ages appear to range from six to early teens."

Image database

The first pictures of the man were found three years ago in Germany, Interpol said.

The pictures had been manipulated to disguise the man's
face with a swirl pattern, but computer specialists at Germany's
federal police agency, the BKA, worked with Interpol's human
trafficking team to produce identifiable images.

They show a man with slightly receding dark hair, aged 35 to 40 years old.

Despite extensive efforts through Interpol's network of 186 member states his identity remains unknown.

Interpol maintains a database of 520,000 images of child sex abuse submitted by 36 member states.

Using sophisticated software, investigators have identified and rescued nearly 600 victims from 31 countries.

Read more about it on EPUK

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Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led

By Andrew Sullivan

10/07/07 "
" -- -- I remember that my first response to
the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse
the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t
believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported
George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the
president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented
by the far left or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all,
they train captives to lie about this stuff, don’t they? Bottom
line: I trusted the president in a time of war to obey the rule
of law that we were and are defending. And then I was forced to
confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable,
the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in
the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat
after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done
before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America’s treaty
obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations
convention against torture, and US law. Although America has
allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes
around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture,
it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the
world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting
the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to
banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed
that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such
tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were
apparently more dangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom
Americans fought and defeated without resorting to torture. The
decision to enter what Dick Cheney called “the dark side” was
made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no idea how to
do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods US
soldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets
or Vietcong.

Classic torture techniques, such as waterboarding, hypothermia,
beatings, excruciating stress positions, days and days of sleep
deprivation, and threats to family members (even the children of
terror suspects), were approved by Bush and inflicted on an
unknown number of terror suspects by American officials, CIA
agents and, in the chaos of Iraq, incompetents and sadists at
Abu Ghraib. And when the horror came to light, they denied all
of it and prosecuted a few grunts at the lowest level. The
official reports were barred from investigating fully up the
chain of command.

Legally, the White House knew from the start that it was on
extremely shaky ground. And so officials told pliant in-house
lawyers to concoct memos to make what was illegal legal. Their
irritation with the rule of law, and their belief that the
president had the constitutional authority to waive it, became a
hallmark of their work.

They redefined torture solely as something that would be
equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent
death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive
interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced
interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the
president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We
were through the looking glass.

After Abu Ghraib, some progress was made in restraining these
torture policies. The memo defining torture out of existence was
rescinded. The Military Commissions Act was crafted to prevent
the military itself from being forced to violate its own code of
justice. But the administration clung to its torture policies,
and tried every legal manoeuvre to keep it going and keep it
secret. Much of this stemmed from the vice-president’s office.

Last week The New York Times revealed more. We now know that
long after Abu Ghraib was exposed, the administration issued
internal legal memos that asserted the legality of many of the
techniques exposed there. The memos not only gave legal cover to
waterboarding, hypothermia and beating but allowed them in
combination to intensify the effect.

The argument was that stripping a chained detainee naked,
pouring water over him while keeping room temperatures cold
enough to induce repeated episodes of dangerous hypothermia, was
not “cruel, inhuman or degrading”. We have a log of such a
technique being used at Guantanamo. The victim had to be rushed
to hospital, brought back from death, then submitted once again
to “enhanced interrogation”.

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase “enhanced
interrogation technique”. By relying on it, the White House
spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that
the administration strongly opposed torture and that “any
procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful”.

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this
question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage.
Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation,
was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what
became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It
included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep

The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in
1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the
Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the
Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them
outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the
Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case
resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight
and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is
almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s
house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think
tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney’s
arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the
court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform.
They didn’t qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn’t be
abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of
torture as defined under US and international law: “The court
found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious
physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find
sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . .”

The definition of torture remains the infliction of “severe
mental or physical pain or suffering” with the intent of
procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America
rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides.
The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is
how far we’ve come. And this fateful, profound decision to
change what America stands for was made in secret. The president
kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own

Ever since, the United States has been struggling to figure out
what to do about this, if anything. So far Congress has been
extremely passive, although last week’s leaks about the secret
pro-torture memos after Abu Ghraib forced Arlen Specter, a
Republican senator, to proclaim that the memos “are more than
surprising. I think they are shocking”. Yet the public, by and
large, remains indifferent; and all the Republican candidates,
bar John McCain and Ron Paul, endorse continuing the use of

One day America will come back– the America that defends human
rights, the America that would never torture detainees, the
America that leads the world in barring the inhuman and
barbaric. But not until this president leaves office. And maybe
not even then

Andrew Sullivan is an author, academic and journalist. He
holds a PhD from Harvard in political science, and is a former
editor of The New Republic. His 1995 book, Virtually Normal: An
Argument About Homosexuality, became one of the best-selling
books on gay rights. He has been a regular columnist for The
Sunday Times since the 1990s, and also writes for Time and other

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Friday, 5 October 2007

UK Can now Demand Data Decryption on Penalty of Jail Time

By Ken
| Published: October 01, 2007 - 10:20PM CT

New laws going into effect today in the United Kingdom make it a crime to
refuse to decrypt almost any encrypted data requested by authorities as part of
a criminal or terror investigation. Individuals who are believed to have the
cryptographic keys necessary for such decryption will face up to 5 years in
prison for failing to comply with police or military orders to hand over either
the cryptographic keys, or the data in a decrypted form.

Part 3, Section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)
includes provisions for the decryption requirements, which are applied
differently based on the kind of investigation underway. As we reported last year, the
five-year imprisonment penalty is reserved for cases involving anti-terrorism
efforts. All other failures to comply can be met with a maximum two-year

The law can only be applied to data residing in the UK, hosted on UK servers,
or stored on devices located within the UK. The law does not authorize the UK
government to intercept encrypted materials in transit on the Internet via the
UK and to attempt to have them decrypted under the auspices of the jail time

The keys to the (United) Kingdom

The law has been criticized for the power its gives investigators, which is
seen as dangerously broad. Authorities tracking the movement of terrorist funds
could demand the encryption keys used by a financial institution, for instance,
thereby laying bare that bank's files on everything from financial transactions
to user data.

Cambridge University security expert Richard Clayton said in May of 2006 that such laws would
only encourage businesses to house their cryptography operations out of the
reach of UK investigators, potentially harming the country's economy. "The
controversy here [lies in] seizing keys, not in forcing people to decrypt. The
power to seize encryption keys is spooking big business," Clayton said.

"The notion that international bankers would be wary of bringing master keys
into UK if they could be seized as part of legitimate police operations, or by a
corrupt chief constable, has quite a lot of traction," he added. "With the
appropriate paperwork, keys can be seized. If you're an international banker
you'll plonk your headquarters in Zurich."

The law also allows authorities to compel individuals targeted in such
investigation to keep silent about their role in decrypting data. Though this
will be handled on a case-by-case basis, it's another worrisome facet of a law
that has been widely criticized for years. While RIPA was originally passed in
2000, the provisions detailing the handover of cryptographic keys and/or the
force decryption of protected content has not been tapped by the UK Home
Office—the division of the British government which oversees national security,
the justice system, immigration, and the police forces of England and Wales. As
we reported last year, the Home Office was slowly building its case to activate
Part 3, Section 49.

The Home Office has steadfastly proclaimed that the law is aimed at catching
terrorists, pedophiles, and hardened criminals—all parties which the UK
government contends are rather adept at using encryption to cover up their

Yet the law, in a strange way, almost gives criminals an "out," in that those
caught potentially committing serious crimes may opt to refuse to decrypt
incriminating data. A pedophile with a 2GB collection of encrypted kiddie porn
may find it easier to do two years in the slammer than expose what he's been up

Source: ars technica

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Thursday, 4 October 2007

ABC to send Digital Reporters Abroard

ABC News announced today that it would dispatch digital reporters to seven foreign cities, a move meant to give the network a broader global presence without incurring the cost of opening full-fledged bureaus.

The reporters will serve as their own producers, bookers and assistants, filing reports for all ABC News platforms. Two people will be posted in India, and one each in South Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, United Arab Emirates and Kenya.

“We don’t need old-style bureaus with a bricks and mortar office, editing suites, and full-time camera crews,” said Marcus Wilford, the London bureau chief for ABC News. “We can shoot video, edit it and feed it over the Internet now.”

The reporters will be supported by ABC’s five fully-staffed bureaus (in London, Moscow, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Beijing) and by the network’s partnerships with other news organizations.

ABC and other networks have been cutting back on their overseas infrastructures for decades, as have newspapers and other news outlets. Their budgets have benefited, even if viewers and readers probably haven’t.

For the latest generation of journalists, conducting interviews, operating a camera, editing video clips and filing stories have turned into common skills. The old norm — of four-person network news crews — is rapidly growing extinct.

One of the new ABC digital reporters, Dana Hughes, formerly an investigative producer, was in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday looking for an apartment, which will also serve as her office.

“I’ve been given the assignment to, more or less, cover the entire continent of Africa,” she said by phone from Nairobi.

Ms. Hughes started gathering news before she even arrived in Kenya. The musician John Legend was on her flight, en route to support a United Nations project and record a music video, and he consented to an interview once the plane landed in Nairobi.

Mr. Wilford of ABC News said he saw this round of foreign posts as the first phase of a broader deployment, adding that he would especially like to add a reporter in Tehran.

Mr. Wilford recalled that when he was hired by ABC News 20 years ago, the news division’s Paris bureau had three camera crews, three producers, two correspondents, drivers, and a chef in a house with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Today the ABC News presence in Paris consists of a lone staff producer.

“It was a palatial establishment,” Mr. Wilford said, “and it wasn’t sustainable.”
Source: New York Times
By Brian Stelter

Free Burma

Free Burma!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Phonecalls and Texts to be Logged

Man using mobile phone

Mobile phone data can be used to pinpoint a person's location

Information about all landline and mobile phone calls made in the UK must be logged and stored for a year under new laws.

Data about calls made and received will also be available to 652 public bodies, including the police and councils.

The Home Office said the content of calls and texts
would not be read and insisted the move was vital to tackle serious
crime and terrorism.

But critics said it was another example of Britain's "surveillance society".

The new law, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, was signed off by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in July.

It requires phone companies to log data on every call or text made to and from every phone in Britain.

'Different uses'

Since 2004, companies have voluntarily provided data,
where available, if it was requested, but now they will required by law
to retain it for a year.

Minister for Security and Counter-terrorism Tony McNulty
told BBC Radio 4 that the data could provide three levels of
information, the simplest being about the phone's owner.

"Say some old lady has got difficulties with someone
who's repaired the gas in her house and has a mobile phone for somebody
who's clearly dodgy," Mr McNulty said.

"The local authorities can just get the subscriber information next to that number.

"The second level of data is not simply the subscriber, but also the calls made by that phone.

"And the third level which is purely for the security
forces, police, etc, is not just the subscriber information and the
calls made, but also the calls coming in and location data - where the
calls are made from."

Personal 'profile'

A person's location can be pinpointed to within a few feet by identifying the mobile phone mast used to transmit their call.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group
Liberty, said people were more concerned than ever about their personal
privacy, especially how many bodies had access to their phone records.

"There are actually a very broad range of purposes for
which this information about who we've been phoning and when can be
revealed," Ms Chakrabarti said.

"It includes, for example, the Gaming Board, the Food Standards Authority and every district and county council in the country."

She said requests for information would not be limited to those concerning serious crime and national security.

"We're talking about a profile that can be built of your
personal relationships on the basis of who you've been speaking to and

Public consulted

Mr McNulty said local councils would only have access to data on "a legitimate and proportional basis".

"(To say) that all of a sudden anyone and everyone's
information is available, that all these authorities somehow have the
right to go fishing and snooping, simply isn't the case," he added.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman,
said: "Once again this government has been caught red-handed creating
new surveillance state powers with no meaningful public or
parliamentary debate.

The Home Office said the plans had been through a public
consultation and said a senior police officer would have to approve any
request for phone data.

Councils would only be able to use the powers to
"prevent and detect crime - not for the collection of taxes", the
spokesman added.

The new law brings Britain in line with an EU directive on the retention of phone data.

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