Tue, Apr 28th 2009 12:14am
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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