Shaun Posted May 22, 2008 Share Posted May 22, 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7409593.stm Phone calls database considered Ministers are to consider plans for a database of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK, it has emerged. The plans, reported in the Times, are at an early stage and may be included in the draft Communications Bill later this year, the Home Office confirmed. A Home Office spokesman said the data was a "crucial tool" for protecting national security and preventing crime. Ministers have not seen the plans which were drawn up by Home Office officials. A Home Office spokesman said: "The Communications Data Bill will help ensure that crucial capabilities in the use of communications data for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime continue to be available. "These powers will continue to be subject to strict safeguards to ensure the right balance between privacy and protecting the public." The spokesman said changes need to be made to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 "to ensure that public authorities can continue to obtain and have access to communications data essential for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime purposes". But the Information Commission, an independent authority set up to protect personal information, said the database "may well be a step too far" and highlighted the risk of data being lost, traded or stolen. Assistant information commissioner Jonathan Bamford said: "We are not aware of any justification for the state to hold every UK citizen's phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable. "Defeating crime and terrorism is of the utmost importance, but we are not aware of any pressing need to justify the government itself holding this sort of data." A number of data protection failures in recent months, including the loss of a CD carrying the personal details of every child benefit claimant, have embarrassed the government. The plans also prompted concern from political groups. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: "Given [ministers'] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people's sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security than a support." Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne called the proposals "an Orwellian step too far". He said ministers had "taken leave of their senses if they think that this proposal is compatible with a free country and a free people". "Given the appalling track record of data loss, this state is simply not to be trusted with such private information," said Mr Huhne. No one seems to take me seriously when I say the UK is moving quite quickly towards a police state, but the police can hold people without charge for 4 weeks (the government pushed for 3 months initially and are now trying to raise it to 42 days), the police can stop and search you without reasonable suspicion (the 2000 terrorism act brought this in and it's since been used on over one hundred thousand people, do you think those people were all suspected terrorists?), we have more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world (about one for every 14 people), the government has passed legislation for a massive centralised ID register with fingerprints and iris scans for all 60 million people in the country (although I'm skeptical of the government's ability to implement such a large IT project), and lots of other stuff I could list. And now this attempt by the government to gets its hands on all emails and phone records in another lovely database. Of course in the case of emails it would be fairly easy to get around, just don't use an email provider that operates in the UK and use encryption, but most people won't. They can already use subpoenas to get the information in some cases of course, but when it's on a centralised government database, where I have no doubt the information will remain for eternity -- they even refuse to destroy the DNA records the police take of people who are arrested and not even charged, or who are acquitted, of whom there are over a million, including a hundred thousand children -- it's a lot easier to misuse (or lose, as the government lost some disks containing the records of 25 million people including bank details last year). In the 20th century police states traditionally functioned by having a secret police spying on the population with systems of informants and people generally being encouraged to spy on their neighbours, and although there are some elements of that, I think this is a new sort of police state. There is largely no need to go out and find information on somebody when you can monitor everything they say over all digital media, follow their movement through a massive CCTV network with face recognition software and GPS tracking systems in their vehicles (ostensibly for a pay-as-you drive form of road taxation) and know everything they buy because they have to use their thumbprint as identification for transactions. Essentially total information awareness through technology replaces the need for a gestapo or stasi. And those are all either already in place, or proposals for future systems. I'm sure we'll all be super-safe from terrorism though, after all, that's what all this is in aid of, eh? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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