Stats looking at how often our police forces request personal communications data make the state of UK surveillance appear rather bad, with a total of 733,237 police requests to view communications data made over the course of three years.
The numbers come from FOI requests made and collated by Big Brother Watch [PDF], which says the "who, where and when of any text, email, phone call or web search" was requested an average of 670 times per day by police between 2012 and 2014.
BBW says there seems to be a blanket approvals process in place, with 96 per cent of all requests for such data internally approved straight away. The pressure group says this amounts to "excessive access and use" of our location and communications data, and would like police to start compiling and publishing transparency reports to let us know if this data is being used responsibly.
The Home Office has come out in defence of its police forces, though, explaining: "It is absolutely vital that our police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain, limited circumstances, to protect the public and ensure national security. This information helps to disrupt terrorist plots, smash criminal networks and keep us safe and it is a government priority to ensure our legislation is updated to deal with changing threats and evolving technologies." [BBC]