UK Drops Plan For Government Internet and Phone Database; Tells ISPs and Operators To Retain The Data Instead

from the shell-game dept

The British government says it has dropped its plans to create a central database “of all phone calls, e-mails and websites visited.” Instead, it wants ISPs and phone companies to hold all of the info. A government minister says having all of the information in a central database represented an intrusion of personal privacy, and that having individual firms store it raised fewer concerns. That may be true, but privacy issues still exist; simply storing all the data in different places might mitigate some risk, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate it. Meanwhile, the government wants to expand the data that communications companies must retain for 12 months, going beyond phone records and web sites visited. It also wants them to hold on to records of third-party information crossing their networks, including phone use and internet traffic from outside the country. And, to boot, it wants them to organize all of the data to make it easy for authorities to search. Two issues remain: first, again, throwing more and more data into the retention mix won’t magically make the country safer, it just makes it harder to find useful data. Second, this seems like little more than a cunning political ploy to replace a pretty reprehensible plan with one that’s only slightly less worrisome. The revised plan still raises plenty of issues, but hey, it’s not as bad as the original plan, so it must be pretty good, right?

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Comments on “UK Drops Plan For Government Internet and Phone Database; Tells ISPs and Operators To Retain The Data Instead”

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15 Comments
Tor says:

Privacy

“Smith said that while the new system could record a visit to a social network such as Facebook, it would not record personal and private information such as photos or messages posted to a page.”

So web browsing habits data is not considered private information then? Thanks for making that clear.

Another interesting question here is what really constitutes a communications company. What’s the definition?

Enrico Suarve says:

We've been through this before...

Trying to get the UK Goverment to see sense regarding it’s pet IT projects or anti-TERRORRRR campaigns is like trying to teach quantum physics to a chicken

In my opinion, the only reason they’ve even backtracked this far is because of the deep doo dah they’ve got us in with their financial ‘management’ and an urgent need to save money, probably so they can keep their other scary white elephant (ID Cards) alive

I’d like to be able to say ‘normal service will resume soon’ but 2010 seems a long way off and I’m not convinced the conservatives would be any better

Oh and before this becomes a “you strange Brits – freedom, freedom, America, rah-rah” thread – who do you think they are getting all these disturbing ideas off? cos personally I can’t help thinking it’s the NSA

Run Dont Walk (profile) says:

Who will pay?

So are they going to provide funding for ISP’s to retain this data, put in place safeguards, people, etc to protect and support their requests.

Anyone living in the UK should be questioning who is running their government and the direction your country is headed in. We are seeing a real life example of the society depicted in the book “1984” being created in front of us. the society depicted in “V for Vendetta” is looking quite possible. wake up people.

Luís Carvalho (profile) says:

I can’t even find words to say how much horror that text brought me.

Just some quick questions:

1-Where and how will sensible data, pertaining a whole country, be stored?
2-Who will protect it?
3-Who will protect the citizens from those in #2?
4-Who will have access rights to it?
5-Who will have the right to question those rights?
6-How can it be questioned even?
7-Can a citizen demmand to “see” it’s own records?
8-What is the guarantee that 12 months will not be “forever minus a day”?
9-Hackers, anyone thought of that?
10-Where can I find someone to “erase” my data regularly?

Better stop here…

I don’t even live in the UK, but if this happens there, soon, it will be everywhere.

Comeback George Orwell, you are forgiven.

Anonymous Coward says:

Global Implications

It also wants them to hold on to records of third-party information crossing their networks…

Considering the way traffic is routed over the internet, this means that they’ll also be recording information of people from outside of Britain who’s information just so happens to get routed through there. If this goes through, it sounds to me like it may be time to start blocking internet traffic to Britain just to protect everyone else. Basically, kick Britain off the ‘net.

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