UK Daily Mail 
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008
Town Hall bureaucrats are to be banned from using anti-terror laws to spy on people suspected of minor bin ‘crimes’.
In a victory for the Daily Mail, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will today announce sweeping reforms to the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
The review will strip councils of the power to use the anti-terror legislation ‘disproportionately’ for minor crimes, such as dog fouling or putting bins out on the wrong day.
Low and middle-ranking council officials – who have been responsible for a string of bizarre investigations – will be stopped from issuing RIPA ‘snooper’ authorisations altogether.
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Only chief executives will be allowed to use the powers and they will be limited to serious crimes such as fly-tipping and benefit fraud.
There will also be a review of whether too many public bodies can use RIPA, which was brought in to spy on terrorists in 2000.
Currently some 474 public authorities have the power to ‘snoop’ on the public.
In a major speech on security and privacy, Miss Smith will say: ‘I don’t want to see these powers being used to target people for putting their bins out on the wrong day, for dog fouling, or to check whether paper boys are carrying sacks that are too heavy.’