UK police now have the power to remotely disable phones, even if no crime has been committed. This is certainly raising eyebrows across the globe. The Digital Economy Act is where this new power comes from and it is now law. Within that act, the UK police have the right to remotely disable phones suspected of being used in drug deals or related crimes. That all sounds good, but the stranger part is, a crime doesn’t have to be actually committed.
“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,” Myles Jackman, legal director for activist organisation Open Rights Group, told Motherboard in an email.
According to Motherboard, the process would involve a superintendent or higher applying for a court order which would be sent to the telco, ordering them to disable the phone in question. Motherboard also says these orders could last indefinitely and be used against people who are not involved in a crime.
Judging by recently published amendments, some of these orders could last indefinitely, and they seemingly could also be used against people who have not committed a crime, or who are not drug dealers themselves. Orders can apply if 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).”
This is an interesting development and one everyone should watch as police powers start to extend into the technology we use daily.
Last Updated on May 3, 2017.