Next time you change your Facebook relationship status, think twice about what your local council might think.
As Tony Bell found, saying he was ‘married’ led to his local council deciding he was no longer entitled to his single person council tax discount – despite the ‘marriage’ being a joke to wind up colleagues.
We’ve warned before that the law is badly lacking when it comes to this kind of snooping and this case highlights why it’s a problem that’s only going to get worse.
If the council had sent someone out to see what was going on, they would have to seek a magistrates approval for surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Yet doing it online appears to fall totally outside these rules.
This weekend we’ll be publishing details of public authorities using private investigators, and it is clear this is not an isolated case.