The Database State

Really not sure about this at all:

The Home Office will create a database to store the details of every phone call made, every email sent and every web page visited by British citizens in the previous year under plans currently under discussion, it has emerged.

It does rather depend upon what it is that they\’re going to put in the database. Who you called or what you said in the call? Who you emailed or the contents of it?

The former is really just access to the logs of the communications provider, isn\’t it?

The latter is obviously a great deal more serious. So, which is it do you think?

11 comments on “The Database State

  1. Normally I’d be alarmed by this news, but with the government’s track records on IT project, I don’t think we have much to fear. Still, it will provide a few more thousand public sector jobs. Cameron is going to have a lot of sacking to do!

  2. As far as I’m aware it’s connection not content. The ISPs etc have said they already keep this data for billing and dispute resolution. Not happy about it frankly but it’s not a huge shift. As long as the service providers are responsible for holding the data and it doesn’t get shifted into some government data storage should be pretty safe from unnecessary prying – HMG and minions will still need to officially request access, rather than data mining as something to do on a rainy afternoon.

  3. “As far as I’m aware it’s connection not content.”

    Yes. But be aware that who you write to and where you browse to forms a pretty good picture of your life, to be leaked to the press when convenient.

    “The ISPs etc have said they already keep this data for billing and dispute resolution.”

    And because they’ve been given a heads up by the Government to do so.

    “it doesn’t get shifted into some government data storage should be pretty safe from unnecessary prying”

    This is precisely the proposal!

    “data mining as something to do on a rainy afternoon”

    This is precisely what will happen.

    They are claiming that putting it all in one central database will increase “efficiency”: Plod will get one court order and come to one place to see everything he needs without disturbing the ISP. Yeah, it’ll increase efficiency all right: once they remove the need for a court order and the security services can just peek away at whatever they wish.

  4. No, the Telegraph article is misleading bollocks. The Register, who know what they’re talking about, make clear that this is just about mandating ISPs to keep the records to ensure they can be made available to security services if there is a court order.

  5. “the Telegraph article is misleading bollocks”

    Ah. I thought this was a new proposal. I get so confused by the blizzard of proposals, announcements, re-announcements, new proposals, that I lose track of which piece of authoritarian shit they’re up to today.

  6. They’re talking about storing “communications data”, i.e. who you communicate with, when and for how long (or how much data is sent). Content is not included.

    These proposals actually go back to the aftermath of 9/11. The government created provision for a voluntary code on retention of this data, and provision (unused) for compulsion in retaining the data in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

    They then switched tack and pushed for such measures at EU level, successfully.

    Readers may be interested in my article on this topic at Magna Carta Plus:

    http://www.magnacartaplus.org/news/index.php/?p=171

    Incidentally, the Register has a more recent article on this topic, which talks about the government considering creating a central database, as per the Telegraph article:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/20/central_government_database_proposed/

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