ICO worried about a UK Government-owned traffic data database
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The new Communications Data Bill proposed by the Home Office has met the
opposition of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which has shown
concerns related to the proposals of building one Government-owned database
with records of phone calls, email and Internet use in the UK.
In ICO’s opinion, the action is not justified. “If the intention is to bring
all mobile and internet records together under one system, this would give
us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any
justification for the state to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet
records. (…) We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or
is proportionate or desirable. We have warned before that we are
sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Holding large collections of data
is always risky – the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the
problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen” said Jonathan Bamford,
assistant Information Commissioner.
ICO is worried not only in connection to breaches of civil liberties but
also about the amount of power the Government will get over the information.
“Such a measure would require wider public discussion. Proper safeguards
would be needed to ensure that the data is only used for the proper purpose
of detecting crime” stated Bamford.
There are also doubts that the Government is able to guaranty the safety of
the system against internal as well as external misuse. The system might
prove too massive to be properly managed by the Government, ending up in a
huge loss of public money.
The concerns are also related to the fact the UK Government has a bad
history in keeping personal private data. As previously reported in the
EDRI-gram, HM Revenue and Customs lost 25 million people’s personal details
in November, the Army lost a large amount of data with stolen laptops and a
contractor to the DVLA lost three million drivers’ personal details in
Privacy watchdog opposes giant telecoms database (27.05.2008)
Home Office calls for a ‘Big Brother’ database (22.05.2008)
EDRI gram – UK Government will store all phone, Internet traffic data
EDRi-gram: Personal sensitive data keep on being lost in UK (30.01.2008)