[5/4/17] UK police could soon have the power to remotely disable mobile phones, even before the user actually commits a crime.
The Digital Economy Act, which has just passed into law, contains a section stating that officers will be able to place restrictions on handsets that they believe are being used by drug dealers.
The Home Office has told The Independent that UK police haven’t gained the powers yet, as “the introduction of powers included within Acts are often staggered and further details will be developed by the next Government”.
The next Secretary of State needs to make regulations, which then have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament, before officers can start targeting phones.
Police also wouldn’t be able to disable devices directly.
Instead, the Director General or Deputy Director General of the National Crime Agency, or a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above, would have to apply for a court order that would then be sent to a telecommunications provider.
The government wants to crack down on so-called “deal-lines” used by gangs to remotely deal drugs in rural areas.
According to the government, these gangs exploit children and vulnerable people as couriers, using “specific” mobile phone numbers.
“Regulations may make provision conferring power on a court to make a drug dealing telecommunications restriction order,” reads a section of the Digital Economy Act.