Government acts to restrict anonymous communications - legally

News by SC Staff

Commercial multi-user gateways may only be licensed where the supplier can demonstrate that callers can be identified following Security Minister direction to Ofcom to ensure government access to information.

Not strictly information security in a computer context, but nonetheless, indicative of the government's moves and intentions to reduce anonymous communications through the application of technology, the Security Minister Ben Wallace today gave, “ a direction to Ofcom to ensure our security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other emergency services have access to the information they need to keep the public safe.”

A government statement explains that the direction has been made under section 5 of the Communications Act 2003, and requires that commercial multi-user gateways may only be licensed where the supplier can demonstrate that callers can be identified.

“Commercial multi-user gateways use SIM cards to allow calls made through them to be routed through different operators. Calls made using these devices from fixed lines to mobiles are treated by the recipient's network as if they were made by a mobile phone, rather than a fixed line,” the statement explains.

In July Ofcom announced  it was required to exempt the devices from current licensing requirements under section 8(1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 saying the legislation prevented it from being able to take into account national security concerns.

However, under the Communications Act 2003 Ministers can give a direction about communications networks on national security grounds, hence the Security Minister's direction. “This direction is necessary to ensure that those charged with keeping families and communities safe have access to relevant and accurate information when they need it and when they have the appropriate authorisations in order to do their job,” said Wallace at the signing of the direction to Ofcom.


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