Friday, December 5, 2008
To most people, the lot of a hardworking paperboy – getting up before the crack of dawn to deliver newspapers door to door – is not likely to cause a threat to national security.
However, one local council used swingeing anti-terror law to crackdown on paperboys thought to be working without the correct paperwork.
Cambridgeshire County Council used the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on a branch of Spar in the village of Melbourn.
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It sent undercover council officers to lurk outside the shop in the early hours and take notes on the movements of the store’s eight paperboys.
The spies’ evidence was then used as part of a criminal prosecution of the shop’s owners for employing five of the boys without the correct official documentation.
Cambridgeshire’s sledgehammer approach is just the latest example of local authorities’ increasing willingness to use RIPA for minor misdemeanours.
Likened to the activities of the Stasi – the East German secret police – the council’s covert approach has heightened concern that our fundamental liberties are being eroded by a Big Brother-type state.
This article was posted: Friday, December 5, 2008 at 11:10 am