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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Brother is back

No not the television show, though I understand that we are shortly to have another series of that too, but the rather the Orwellian tendencies of the Government.

This time it is a proposal by civil servants that a database be set up of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK. The worrying thing is that I can just see Ministers agreeing to it on the rather flimsy pretext that it is necessary to fight terrorism. I cannot think of a single one who might veto the idea as the barking mad proposal it really is and who would send the relevant civil servant scuttling back to the dark recesses of Whitehall, never to emerge again.

Already the great and the good are lining up against the suggestion. The Information Commission, an independent authority set up to protect personal information, has said that the database "may well be a step too far". They highlighted the risk of data being lost, traded or stolen:

Assistant information commissioner Jonathan Bamford said: "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.

"Defeating crime and terrorism is of the utmost importance, but we are not aware of any pressing need to justify the government itself holding this sort of data."

To be fair the shadow home secretary, David Davis is against it too as of course is our very own Chris Huhne. He said ministers had "taken leave of their senses if they think that this proposal is compatible with a free country and a free people". He is right.
Glad others are picking up on this story while the fuss happens over it with the important debates in the house today. This is surely a government on self destruct mode.
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