UK Government plans database of citizens' email, phone and web use

UK Government plans database of citizens' email, phone and web use

ISPs and telecoms companies to store data

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The UK Government will require ISP, phone and mobile companies to store details of all subscriber phone calls, emails, texts and websites visited for a year under plans designed to aid the police and intelligence services.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the new Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) will not store the contents of calls and emails but data such as time, date, sender and recipient data, allowing the authorities to build a picture of the people with whom targeted individuals are communicating.

The bare bones of the CCDP was first proposed last July, developed from an idea that emerged in 2008 during the later period of the previous Government that ISPs be required to aid in the creation of a comprehensive surveillance database for security use.

What came to be known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme was quickly ruled out as impractical due to the volume of data ISPs or the Government would be required to store and makes sense of as well as the huge cost. The new CCDP hands the job of record keeping on to the ISP and telecoms companies.

As with the 2008 proposal, the Daily Telegraph claims that the scheme is being backed by the UK’s main intelligence-gathering hub, GCHQ, hinted at in very general terms in the Strategic Defence and Security review from October 2010.

Although the intention to pursue the policy has been assumed for some time, The Daily Telegraph story now says that the CCDP could be formally announced as early as May 2012.

If the CCDP becomes law, it will attract a range of criticism, starting with the creation of databases that could represent another data breach risk.

“The data would be a honey pot for hackers and foreign governments, not to mention at huge risk of abuse by those responsible for maintaining the databases. It would be the end of privacy online,” said the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch in response.

“The Home Secretary may have changed but it seems the Home Office’s desire to spy on every citizen’s web use and phone calls remains the same as it was under Labour.”


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