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Repeal s57 of the Finance Act 2010 which allows opening of postal mail without a warrant

Comment 5th July 2010

A powerful change to the law was made in the rush to pass the Finance Bill at the fag-end of the last parliament.  Section 57 of the Finance Act 2010 amends the Postal Services Act 2000 to allow post to be opened without a warrant and without the presence of the recipient.

To hide such a wide-ranging change to the law in the budget and to rush through parliament during the wash-up I see is itself an affront to our parliamentary democracy.

Furthermore such intrusive surveillance powers should, if a law is absolutely necessary, be limited by the same approval process for telephone surveillance and interception of other communications such as email.

Why does this matter?

Under close inspection I suspect this change to the law would not be compatible with the right to a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights.  State surveillance should be used sparingly for only very serious cases.

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