Friday, January 02, 2009

1984 is Revisited by UK Home Office

Just when we thought that intrusion in to our lives could get any worse we hear news of a UK government consultation paper to be published next month. Initially included in the UK's Communications Data Bill as part of a sweeping Interception Modernisation Programme, the surveillance aspect of the proposal was dropped in September to now reappear a few months later. The resultant database bill has been put at £12bn.

Given the track record of UK agencies in ability to secure data and the catastrophe of lost files and records it comes as a shock to read that the proposed super databases of metadata on all phone calls, emails, text messages and web site visits has been earmarked to be run by private hands.

The communications data, would give the police the identity and location of the caller, texter or web surfer but not the content. The Home Office argues that it is no longer good enough for communications companies to retrieve data when requested by the police and intelligence services and that central control is need to fight terror and crime.

The issue of civil liberties over state interest is a difficult one but the more we go online and communicate the more the danger that our liberty could be compromised and who will ultimately decide who broke what law and how the information could be used.

Next they will be able to say what we read, didn’t read and copy and pasted. Perhaps the UK government should be building a rights database but again that perhaps isn’t true crime and terror.

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