London - Innocent people have been arrested on paedophilia charges because of blunders in warrants for phone and internet records.
Blameless individuals have seen their children taken into care and homes searched as a result of ‘appalling’ errors when authorities used the records to find out their home addresses, a report revealed.
More than 20 typographical mistakes had led to wrongful arrests, the interception of communications watchdog said.
Major concerns were raised over errors when authorities linked IP addresses – unique codes used to trace devices on the internet – to physical locations.
In his annual report, Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Stanley Burton said the mistakes were ‘far more common than is acceptable’, adding: ‘The impact on some victims of these errors has been appalling.’
The watchdog is responsible for reviewing how intelligence agencies, police forces and other public authorities acquire and handle communications data. This data covers information such as who sent a message or made a phone call, and when and where this happened – but not the content. The report describes one case in which police searched an incorrect address, resulting in social services taking two children into custody for a weekend while their parents were questioned by police.
Another case saw two men arrested on suspicion of luring children over social media after a transposition error changed one digit of an IP address.