UK Home Minister pushes for draft communications bill to 'protect country'

Marwan Sultan in London, Wednesday 14 Jan 2015

UK Home Office asks for more powers to protect the country from terrorism, reveals that three terror plots were recently thwarted

David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron gets into a car as he leaves 10 Downing Street in London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 (Photo: AP)

The UK government has warned that British lives will be at serious risk if they are unable to pass the draft communications bill, a piece of legislation that – if passed – require internet service providers to report on user activity to the government.

Since the terror attacks in Paris, the UK security services have tightened security, especially on the border with mainland Europe.

Home Secretary Theresa May has warned on Wednesday that failure to pass a law forcing communications firms to collect and store online data is endangering lives and weakening the country's ability to protect itself.

She expected that French security services have used communications data to locate the suspects of the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine and establish the links between this attack and the hostages taken in the Jewish kosher shop the day afterward.

“Quite simply… if we want the police and the security services to protect the public and save lives, they need this capability,” May said in a speech in the House of Commons.

"Every day that passes without the proposals in the communications data bill, the capabilities of the people who keep us safe diminishes and ... more people find themselves in danger and yes crimes will go unpunished and innocent lives will be put at risk," she added.

Due to party differences and lack of majority, the parliament failed to pass the draft communications data bill which requires internet service providers and mobile phone companies to maintain records of each user's internet browsing activity including social media, email correspondence, voice calls, internet gaming, and mobile phone messaging services for 12 months.

Although the bill would not give the security services access to the content of communications, the liberal democrats, junior partner of the current coalition government, blocked it as a threat to the individual's privacy.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to reintroduce the bill to parliament if his Tories party won the general election on 7 May.

British security services and police have repeatedly said the powers in the bill would help them trace young British people travelling to Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS).



Nearly 600 people from Britain have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with such groups and half of them have returned, May said.

Meanwhile, May told the Parliament that the police can call on appropriate military assistance when required across the country.

She revealed three serious terrorist plots have been disrupted during recent months alone.

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