British spy agencies have come under fire after an annual surveillance report revealed that 504,073 requests were made to spy on British citizens last year.
According to a report released on Monday by the interception of communications commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, intelligence services, police and councils made more than half a million requests in 2008 to monitor citizen's private correspondence from emails to telephone records.
All of the requests were approved under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), said the report.
Recently, Local authorities and government agencies were criticized for abusing the RIPA for monitoring criminally-unimportant incidents such as littering, dog fouling, and parking rules after winning the right to request private communication data.
In his report, Kennedy also found 595 errors in interception requests last year, including mistakes made by the domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6.
“It cannot be a justified response to the problems we face in this country that the state is spying on half a million people a year," Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne was quoted by British dailies as saying.
"The Government forgets that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, and not a blueprint. We are still a long way from living under East Germany's Stasi but it beggars belief to spy on one in every 78 adults," Huhne said, revoking the totalitarian ruler of the British author's book.
The figure corresponds to spy requests made for every minute of the previous year.
“We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state but without adequate safeguards," he regretted.
A Home Office spokesman said the powers should be used only when they were "proportionate," to ensure a "balance between individual privacy and collective security."
In Britain, the average citizen is picked up by no less than 300 separate cameras per day, not counting road traffic cameras, according to a 2006 BBC report.http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=1 ... =351020601