There has been debate about the legality of monitoring specific web sites by Southern Health and others. It is my considered view (as a non-lawyer) having done a little research that ‘monitoring‘ is a misleading term for such conduct.

I believe it is,’Surveillance‘, which is unlawful under The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

S.28(1)(a) of the Act refers specifically to, “Directed surveillance.” Ipso facto, ‘monitoring’ a specific web site is “Directed surveillance” and unlawful without proper authorisation.

Monitoring is distinct from surveillance. For example, in medicine, monitoring:

Involves the intermittent performance and analysis of routine measurements (e.g., rabies virus seroprevalence) and observations to detect changes in the environment or health status of a population but without eliciting a response.”¹

Southern Health (and others) are not,’monitoring’ routine issues intermittently, nor are they detecting national changes. They are engaining in ‘directed surveillance‘ – a practice from which they should desist.

The problem is that anyone is entitled to visit a web site as a normal visitor and leave appropriate comments for moderation. What they are not permitted to do is to carry out regular anonymous surveillance.

The problem is that m’learned friends would relish the fees that would accrue from such a technical argument in Court!


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