‘MI5 mistakenly tapped innocent people`s phones’

UK`s internal spy agency MI5 tapped innocent people`s phone numbers in secret surveillance mix-up.

Last Updated: Jul 10, 2011, 15:57 PM IST

London: Britain`s internal spy agency MI5
tapped innocent people`s phone numbers in secret surveillance
mix-up, according to a government report.

Officers from the Security Service -- mainly concerned
with the UK`s internal security -- and Serious Organised Crime
Agency mistakenly tapped the wrong telephones in as many as 30
cases, says the report.

However, on grounds of national security, none of the
victims have been identified or told their phones were wrongly
intercepted, the `Daily Mail` reported.

But the report by the Interception of Communications
Commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy has made it clear that the cases
involved were only a fraction of thousands of interceptions
authorised by British Ministers each year.

Sir Paul`s report said that in January 2010 the
Security Service made at least two errors "where an incorrect
digit was used when warrantry paperwork was completed, due to
human error".

It said: "This resulted in incorrect phone numbers
being intercepted. On each occasion, the officer involved was
briefed again on the importance of accuracy and cross-checking
when completing warrantry applications."

MI5 also wrongly acquired data belonging to 134 phone
numbers following a failure in software, the report added.

"These errors were caused by a formatting fault on an
electronic spreadsheet which altered the last three digits of
each of the telephone numbers to `000`," the report said.
Sir Paul said that the intelligence agency destroyed
the material and fixed the "technical fault".

Search histories from another 927 internet connections
were obtained by the Security Service without authorisation
from sufficiently senior staff, according to the report.

PTI