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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.
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
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
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.”