UK: Home Office spy plan
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Deutsch: Überwachungspläne des britischen Innenministeriums
The UK Government plans to store details on all phone calls or online communications for a year in databases that will be available to security services, under the pretext of anti-terrorism fight.
Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be obliged to store the numbers or email addresses of people communicating not only by phone or email but also through social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
The Home Office seems to have already begun negotiations with Internet companies over the plan which could be officially announced in May 2012. The news is particularly worrying from several points of view, related to the very large amount of data to be gathered, the disproportionality of the measures, the increased risk of data hacking and the use of sensitive data for various purposes including sending spam.
"This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want access to this. And if communications providers have a government mandate to start collecting this information they will be incredibly tempted to start monitoring this data themselves so they can compete with Google and Facebook," stated Gus Hosein of Privacy International.
Security services will be allowed to request information on people they have under surveillance, being able to trace their movements based on the information provided as mobile phone records are able to show within yards where a call was made from and emails may be tracked using a computer's IP address.
"The vast quantities of data that would be collected would arguably make it harder for the security services to find threats before a crime is committed, and involve a wholesale invasion of all our privacy online that is hugely disproportionate and wholly unnecessary," stated Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch who believes that such a plan would be the end of privacy online.
"No state in history has been able to gather the level of information proposed," said Jim Killock, executive director of the EDRi-member Open Rights Group, to The Sunday Times adding that this would add to "a systematic effort to spy on all of our digital communications."
According to the Sunday Times, the government is planning to introduce these plans, called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, in the Queen's speech in May.
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