Computing Surveillance

Government super-database of communication data

Current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says that in order to keep up with technology that the police and security services need new powers and that an expansion of surveillance is necessary.

The proposed database will hold for two years details of all communications, not however the content just data about the communications i.e. who, when and how long.

BBC News: Giant database plan ‘Orwellian’

The Telegraph: Social networking sites to be snooped on by security services

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, added: “The Government’s Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying. I hope that this consultation is not just a sham exercise to soft-soap an unsuspecting public.”

Guy Herbert, from campaign group NO2ID, said: “The Home Secretary talks about ‘principles’ but the only principle she appears to be acquainted with is convenience for the stalker state.

I too have concerns about this proposal. Presumably the idea is that criminals and terrorists even if they are smart enough not to discuss their illegal activities over telephones or via email will communicate with their associates. The database will allow investigators to map these networks of associates and open up new areas of investigation and discover new suspects.

But the vast majority of Britons are not terrorists or criminals so the database will mostly consist of data that is of no use to the police or the security services but would be to criminals who could use the data to aid in identity theft. Frankly I have no faith in the government’s ability to safeguard this data.

By Matt Wharton

Matt Wharton is a dad, vlogger and IT Infrastructure Consultant. He was also in a former life a cinema manager.

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