The Truth

Concerns about proposed database holding details of every UK telephone call and email .........

Stewart Cowan, 16/7/08

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Following speculation that the Government is considering the development of a database to record details of every telephone call, email, internet search, text message and online purchase, the Information Commissioner (pdf) Richard Thomas, is warning of serious data protection issues.

The fight against terrorism and other serious crime is, of course, ostensibly the reason for such outrageous snooping and as Mr Thomas says this would be ‘a step too far for the British way of life’.

Even if only the telephone numbers are recorded and not the calls, if you can believe it, the implications of this together with intercepting text messages and logging internet use are immense.

This information would enable the 'authorities' to create profiles of the population. They would know our circle of friends and other contacts, our political and other views, what we buy, what we read.

It is exactly the sort of information the 'authorities' require to regulate the population in a police state.

Where will our information end up? Being lost or left on a train like other high profile cases? Here's just one example of secret terrorism files being found by a member of the public.

I find it offensive to suggest that the purpose of gaining information from spying on us twenty-four hours a day is to bring criminals to justice. The culture today is pandering to wrongdoers while incarcerating the innocent and of analysing people's speech in case they can be accused of committing a 'hate' crime.

What does the Government do with Islamic extremists who hate this country and want to see the end of it?

It gives them millions of pounds worth of benefits, housing and legal aid.

The Tax Payers' Alliance (pdf) reports on the cost of Big Brother Government and also on the wasted millions spent on those who preach hatred.

Abu Qatada has called for the murder of non-Muslims, but has not been deported to Jordan to face terror charges because of human rights legislation.

"The total cost to taxpayers to date of welfare benefits, incarceration, legal appeals and police monitoring [of Qatada alone] is almost £1.5 million."

I am completely convinced that this latest proposal to use mass surveillance is not for the benefit of the general population.

Speaking at the launch of his annual report, Richard Thomas will say: “I am absolutely clear that the targeted, and duly authorised, interception of the communications of suspects can be invaluable in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime. But there needs to be the fullest public debate about the justification for, and implications of, a specially-created database – potentially accessible to a wide range of law enforcement authorities – holding details of everyone’s telephone and internet communications."

"Do we really want the police, security services and other organs of the state to have access to more and more aspects of our private lives? “Speculation that the Home Office is considering collecting this information from phone companies and internet service providers has been reinforced by the government’s Draft Legislative Programme which, referring to a proposed Communications Data Bill, talks about ‘modifying procedures for acquiring communications data’.”.

Citing the expansion of the DNA database and the centralised collection and retention of data from Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, Mr Thomas believes that there has not been sufficient debate on proposals to collect more and more personal information without proper justification.

Richard Thomas says: “We welcomed last month’s report from the all-party Home Affairs Committee warning of the dangers of excessive surveillance. I entirely agree that before major new databases are launched careful consideration must be given to the impact on individuals’ liberties and on society as a whole. Sadly, there have been too many developments where there has not been sufficient openness, transparency or public debate.”