Print 55 comment(s) - last by Adonlude.. on May 28 at 5:18 PM

Critics fear that citizens sleepwalk into the arms of Big Brother

The UK government wants a massive database to store the web, e-mail, and phone histories of every person in the country – and is unveiling new telecommunications legislation to implement it.

Technology is changing too fast, said a spokeswoman for the UK Home Office, and current progress is undermining law enforcement’s ability to obtain data and “use it to protect the public.”

Such legislation would update the country’s laws, giving the government and law enforcement officials an expanded ability to obtain communications records essential for counter-terrorism and fighting crime. Under the new legislation, law enforcement would receive a brand new, centralized database of communications records, giving officers a one-stop shop for comprehensive reports on a person’s communications activities.

Ross Anderson, chairman of think-tank Foundation for Information Policy Research, thinks that such a database would require network providers to undergo substantial redesigns of their networks. As a result, service providers “would simply move abroad” rather than play ball with the government.

“It's an enormous power grab by the Home Office, and to think it will become a reality is wishful thinking,” said Anderson.

Such a database would add a considerable amount of information to the country’s already large surveillance program, complementing controversial plans for a national Identity Register and corresponding ID card that were delayed to 2012.Together, with new face-recognition technology in surveillance cameras, and comprehensive national ID and communications databases, government officials would have the ability to take a seemingly intimate view into ordinary citizens’ lives, documenting previously anonymous data with startling efficiency.

Naturally, civil rights groups, IT experts, activists, and security professionals are concerned about the initiative – particularly given previous programs’ lack of effectiveness and the government’s spotty security record.

“This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records,” said assistant Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford. “We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society.”

A communications database created per the proposal would be forced to record the almost 57 billion text messages and 3 billion e-mails sent annually in the UK, a security prospect that industry officials are concerned about attracting abuse.

“Given [ministers’] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people’s sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to [national] security, than a support,” said Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.

“Holding large collections of data is always risky - the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen,” said Bamford.

Government police and security forces would be able to access the database only for records authorized by court warrant.

Jamie Cowper, director of European marketing at security company PGP Corp., panned the idea.

“You've got to admire the government's gall in attempting to bring in yet another 'super-database' with public confidence still in tatters over recent lapses in data protection,” said Cowper.

PC World reports that the Internet Service Providers’ Association is taking a “wait-and-see” approach before it weighs in, but it expressed concern about modifications that ISPs would have to make to their businesses and infrastructure.

Home Office officials note that much of the information desired is already available, albeit spread across different companies. This creates an unnecessary time sink and hampers investigations, it said, and a new, central database would allow law enforcement and security officials to work more efficiently.

Full details will be released as part of a data communications bill set to be announced this November. Ministers have yet to see or approve the plans for inclusion in upcoming drafts.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Sort your own side out before you criticise ours.
By sporr on 5/22/2008 6:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
For all the americans having a go at the way it is in the UK i say this to you;

Have a good long hard research into your own governments ways and practices in terms of national "security", what they do and how they do it, you may just find you have bigger and more worrying issues to deal with yourselves.

This is half cocked bs story that some fool of an MP decided might be a good idea to implement. It is not something that will happen in the near future.

The opposition party would destroy the idea, the public would agree, and the public would then vote massively in favour of the party who would abolish it.

It just would not happen. Its not even feasable anwyay.


By jabber on 5/22/2008 6:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
The scene - A MP's Office at Whitehall.

MP gets a call from an IT consultancy firm. MP is not really that IT savvy (few of them are, no interest in stuff thats vaguely important other than their careers)and the IT firm are counting on that. They spin him a horror story and state that they think they can come up with an amazing system that would be a major force against terrorism etc. IT firm knows its impossible but they are not worried about that. They have no intention of delivering.

MP gets some of the backing and IT firm are given the go ahead to do a feasability study and white paper. It takes a year but in the meantime IT firm creams about £4 million of tax payers cash before it delivers next to nothing and the whole thing is scrapped and forgotten. IT firm is happy, MP is left looking stupid and the tax payer out of pocket.

A few months later another MP gets a call....

Rinse and repeat.

By sporr on 5/24/2008 8:12:58 AM , Rating: 2
Dont you just love the system.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki