North’s anti-terror unit seeks online powers

New legislation is needed to give police greater powers to investigate potential terrorist activity online, the head of the North’s anti-terror unit has insisted.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said that technology had overtaken current laws governing what data officers could and could not access to combat extremism.

Mr Geddes, who leads the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Terrorism Investigation Unit, expressed fears of “going dark” on the online contacts between potential dissident republicans.

“Going dark is really when we lose the ability to see what’s happening communications-wise, and that’s a real challenge,” he said.

“Technology has overtaken the legislation we have, which prevents us from capturing how people communicate.”

The issue of beefing up legislation is extremely politically divisive.

Supporters of the move stress the need to make compromises with individual privacy to keep people safe, while opponents characterise it as a snoopers’ charter.

The British Government introduced emergency legislation last year to ensure internet and phone companies retained their customers’ personal communications data. But the law stopped short of including internet browsing histories

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