Massive Big Brother database will
track every phone call and email sent in Britain
by Daniel Bates
www.dailymail.co.uk/, May 20,
A giant database of every phone call and
email sent in Britain is being considered by the Government.
Internet service providers and telephone
companies would be forced to hand over records to the Home Office,
which would keep them on a computer system.
All forms of electronic communication
face being monitored, including social networking sites and text
The database would also include details
of how long individuals spend on the internet.
The government would retain the data for
12 months and security services and police could seek court permission
to access it in the fight against terrorism.
The plans are being considered for inclusion
in the draft Communications Bill to be published in November's
Last night, however, opponents reacted
with horror, branding them disproportionate and an 'Orwellian
step too far', not least because the Government has an appalling
record at keeping data.
Among a string of glaring breaches, more
than 3million drivers have been put at risk of identity fraud
when the DVLA lost their personal details in the American state
Last November two data discs containing
the personal details of 25million people, including bank details,
date of birth and National Insurance number, were lost by HM Revenue
Ministers are yet to see the new plans,
which have been drawn up by Home Office officials.
But if the government presses ahead it
is likely to face public opposition and challenges with the a
system to store all the information.
Fifty seven billion text messages were
sent in Britain last year and 17.5million people accessed the
internet via a mobile device.
Industry sources have warned such a large
single database would be at a greater risk of attack by hackers.
Last night data protection campaigners
and politicians queued up to criticize the idea.
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 really doubts that such
a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable.
"We have warned before that we are
sleepwalking into a surveillance society ... the more data that
is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when that data
is lost, traded or stolen."
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said:
"Given ministers' appalling record at maintaining the integrity
of databases holding people's sensitive data, this could be more
of a threat to our security, than a support."
Britain is already one of the most watched
nations on the planet.
Nearly 800 public bodies have been given
powers to 'snoop' on our phone records or private correspondence
to catch 'criminals' like fly-tippers.
Last month it emerged Poole council in
Dorset was using powers designed for preventing terrorism to spy
on a family to check they lived in the right catchment area.
It later owned up to using the same surveillance
powers to snoop on fishermen._Britain also has 20 per cent of
the world's CCTV cameras - but just 1 per cent of its population.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman
Chris Huhne said the database was "an Orwellian step too
"Ministers have 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
The plans are an attempt to implement
an EU directive developed after the July 7 bombings to make electronic
record keeping uniform.
Telecoms firms have since last October
had to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months.
That requirement could now be extended
to all forms of electronic communications.
A Home Office spokesman said retaining
communications information was essential for protecting national
He also emphasised powers to hold information
were subject to strict safeguards.
He said: "Communications data - the
who, how, when and where of a communication but not the what (content)
of the communication - is a crucial tool for protecting national
security, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the public."