T Nation

UK Plans Massive Dbase of Email, Cell Calls, Internet

I know people are constantly up in arms about the U.S. government searching international emails and phone calls and whatnot, so I thought I’d see what people thought about the UK’s proposal to create a massive database of all internet, cell phone and email usage. I can only imagine what China does…

[i]May 20, 2008
�??Big Brother�?? database for phones and e-mails

Richard Ford

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.

The proposal will raise further alarm about a �??Big Brother�?? society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government to manage a system holding billions of records. About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated 3 billion e-mails are sent every day.

Home Office officials have discussed the option of the national database with telecommunications companies and ISPs as part of preparations for a data communications Bill to be in November�??s Queen�??s Speech. But the plan has not been sent to ministers yet.

Industry sources gave warning that a single database would be at greater risk of attack and abuse.

Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, said: �??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. We have real 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. 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.�??

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, 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.�??

The proposal has emerged as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the July 7 bombings to bring uniformity of record-keeping. Since last October telecoms companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months. That requirement is to be extended to internet, e-mail and voice-over-internet use and included in a Communications Data Bill.

Police and the security services can access the records with a warrant issued by the courts. Rather than individual companies holding the information, Home Office officials are suggesting the records be handed over to the Government and stored on a huge database.

One of the arguments being put forward in favour of the plan is that it would make it simpler and swifter for law enforcement agencies to retrieve the information instead of having to approach hundreds of service providers. Opponents say that the scope for abuse will be greater if the records are held on one database.

A Home Office spokesman said the Bill was needed to reflect changes in communication that would �??increasingly undermine our current capabilities to obtain communications data and use it to protect the public�??. [/i]

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I know people are constantly up in arms about the U.S. government searching international emails and phone calls and whatnot, so I thought I’d see what people thought about the UK’s proposal to create a massive database of all internet, cell phone and email usage. [/quote]

  • 2000 1 June: Bomb explodes on Hammersmith Bridge
  • 2000 20 September: RPG attack SIS Building
  • 2001 4 March: A car bomb explodes outside the BBC’s main news centre in London.
  • 2001 16 April: Hendon post office bombed
  • 2001 6 May: The Real IRA detonate a bomb in a London postal sorting office.
  • 2001, 3 August: The last Real IRA bomb in Britain explodes in Ealing, West London, injuring seven people.
  • 2001, 4 November: Car bomb explodes in Birmingham
  • 2005 7 July: The 7 July 2005 London bombings conducted by four separate suicide bombers, killing 56 people and injuring 700.
  • 2007 January - February: The 2007 United Kingdom letter bombs
  • 2007 30 June: 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack

I don’t mean to nitpick, but you guys passed the “Patriot” act and immunity for telcos with 9/11. I can only imagine what you’d be doing if there was more. And in case you’re wondering, every such law is a direct victory for the terrorists whose main goal is to “terrorize”.

But you knew all that already…

[quote]lixy wrote:
… And in case you’re wondering, every such law is a direct victory for the terrorists whose main goal is to “terrorize”.

But you knew all that already…[/quote]

Wrong. Their main goal is independence for Ireland or taking over control of a country or anything else that will give them power. Terrorism is a tool, not a goal.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
lixy wrote:
… And in case you’re wondering, every such law is a direct victory for the terrorists whose main goal is to “terrorize”.

But you knew all that already…

Wrong. Their main goal is independence for Ireland or taking over control of a country or anything else that will give them power. Terrorism is a tool, not a goal.[/quote]

Then let us put it differently, they do not win, we still lose.

Better?

Not surprising though isn’t the UK the most surveilled populace in the world. They are quickly becoming a police state. I hope we have an uprising here before Americans let this kind of nonsense get out of hand in our country.

Yep. The UK has gone a bit bonkers.

Does that make the level of illegal surveillance in the US acceptable?
Nope.

“Hey look! They’re worse than us!” Isn’t a good moral argument. This forum has too much of it.

Oh, and China’s fucking insane. My friend immigrated here and he’s fucking AMAZED by our internet, both its speed and its lack of censorship. He is especially impressed with Wikipedia.