February 13, 2008
Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, according to its summary, is:
An Act to make provision for and about the interception of communications, the acquisition and disclosure of data relating to communications, the carrying out of surveillance, the use of covert human intelligence sources and the acquisition of the means by which electronic data protected by encryption or passwords may be decrypted or accessed; to provide for Commissioners and a tribunal with functions and jurisdiction in relation to those matters, to entries on and interferences with property or with wireless telegraphy and to the carrying out of their functions by the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters; and for connected purposes.
Emphasis added. Among the governmental organizations that has these blanket powers (specifically named as not needing any added authority or permission to do so) is the Department of Health. Further, among organizations specifically authorized to perform "directed surveillance" with no further authority or permission granted is The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
Pharmaceutical? Unless the sole intended purpose of this surveillance authorization is to allow for tracking down prescription drug abuse (a narrow purpose for such broad powers), I can't imagine why they'd be authorized such a power.
It seems very, very...strange.