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Curious to know if the UK's Tory-led government is a mega spy? Answer: Yes

RIPA requests for comms data balloon under Coalition

It was revealed this week that Britain's surveillance of our online and telephone activity rocketed since the Tories and Lib Dems formed a Coalition government in 2010.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire published the figures on Thursday in response to a question from the chair of the cross-party home affairs select committee Keith Vaz.

Since coming to power four years ago, under the leadership of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, communications data access requests have more than doubled.

Vaz tabled the following question in Parliament:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department [Theresa May], on how many occasions her Department has used the provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 [RIPA] to access communications data, in each year since the coming into force of that Act.

To which Brokenshire responded with figures that show just how much police and spooks' spying activities have ballooned under Cameron's watch.

In 2013, RIPA provisions were used a staggering 6,056 times, compared with 2,813 such requests that were processed in 2010.

That figure has leapt by roughly 1,000 successful requests each year since the Lib Dems and Tories were lumped together.

"The operational directorates of the Home Office obtain communications data for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime as part of immigration and border functions as well as in anti-corruption investigations," Brokenshire said.

"In addition, it obtains the data in the interests of public safety and to prevent the escape of lawfully detained persons from the immigration detention estate."

In the past four years, May has repeatedly campaigned for an extension of those powers with her so-called draft Snooper's Charter.

However, Lib Dem leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg rejected those plans. And yet, under his time at Whitehall, the exercising of RIPA provisions have mushroomed. ®

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