Thursday, July 17th, 2008
July 17, 2008
No decision has been taken to create a huge database containing details of all phone calls, e-mails and internet use, security minister Lord West says.
The Information Commissioner has warned that such a database could be a “step too far for the British way of life”.
Asked in the House of Lords about that warning, Lord West said: “It is very early days as to where we go on this.”
But the switch from traditional phones meant the “entirely new” communication methods had to be assessed, he said.
There have been reports that the giant database is planned for the government’s proposed Communications Data Bill.
That led Information Commissioner Richard Thomas to call in his annual report this week for a full public debate first.
Mr Thomas acknowledged that “targeted and duly authorised” interception of communications by terrorists and other suspects could be “invaluable”.
But he warned that people must still “stand up” for their “fundamental liberties” and freedoms.
“Lines have to be drawn somewhere, and there should be a full democratic debate about where exactly the lines should be drawn,” Mr Thomas said in his report.
“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,” his report added.
Speculation that the government was considering collecting the information – including numbers dialled, websites visited and location of mobile phones being used – has increased because it has talked about “modifying procedures for acquiring communications data” in the Communications Data Bill.
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