Posted on May 4, 2017 at 8:21 AM
The police in the UK has surprised the public with the newly acquired power – the ability to legally disable phones from a remote location.
On Friday, the Digital Economy Act finally managed to become the law, and a great part of it focuses on restricting the access to pornography online. It also discusses what sexual acts may be allowed in a legal pornographic content.
By another section of this decision, the law enforcement agencies have gained the permission of remotely disabling and restricting phones if there’s a suspicion of them being used in drug dealing purposes. If they’re only even related to drug dealing, the police now have the right to disable them, and some cases will allow them to do so even if there’s no actual crime being committed.
The Open Rights Group’s legal director, Myles Jackman, has stated that “The ‘drug dealing telecoms restriction order’ contained within Section 80 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is an entirely unprecedented and potentially draconian power allowing police to prevent the use of phones or other communications devices.”
When it comes to the process itself, it will require an officer with a rank of a superintendent or higher, Director General of the National Crime Agency or his Deputy to officially apply for a court order that would allow them to instruct a communications provider to restrict the specific phone number or even the specified device itself.
Some of the orders could potentially last indefinitely, at least according to the published amendments. Not only that, but the amendments actually allow this sort of restrictions against the people who aren’t the drug dealers, and even in cases where the people in question didn’t even commit a crime at all. The amendment states that these orders can be legally applied in case the user is “facilitating the commission by the user or another person of a drug dealing offense,” or “conduct of the user that is likely to facilitate the commission by the user or another person of a drug dealing offence (whether or not an offence is committed).”
Jackman has stated that disproving the pre-crime intrusion will be pretty difficult since the law actually allows it even if the crime wasn’t actually committed. The National Crime Agency has confirmed that they could use this power, and there’s no doubt that they will. So far, only some of the background information was released, and very little of it was in direct relation to the newly acquired power of the NCA.