The Home Office is under some heavy criticism as we prepare to move into the New Year as they have announced that there will be a database made that will be able to keep an eye on phone calls and emails in an attempt to over come the terrorist threats felt throughout the country.
The man leading the criticism is the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken MacDonald, who has labelled the database as a “hellhouse” of personal and private information that would undoubtedly find its way into the public domain as has so much private information over recent months.
Macdonald claimed that any precautions that the Government might take will mean nothing and the security of such a database cannot be guaranteed fully. “Authorisations for access might be written into statute. The most senior ministers and officials might be designated as scrutineers. But none of this means anything. All history tells us that reassurances like these are worthless in the long run. In the first security crisis the locks would loosen,” Macdonald said.
Macdonald is backed up by many, including the head of campaigns at Liberty, the human rights organisation, Sabina Frediani, who claimed that if ministers went ahead with the proposal then it would be further proof of how “out of touch” they had become.
Frediani stated, “The Home Secretary should think again about embarking on this misguided consultation exercise and pouring billions of pounds into this folly when people are worried about homes and jobs.”
However, in response to the Government’s claims that the database will be secure, Sir Macdonald declared that, “All history tells us that reassurances like these are worthless in the long run.”
The database is estimated to cost the tax payer close to £12 billion and will hold information about what emails and telephone calls have been made, as well as showing information on the time, date, and recipient. The database will also show details about websites that have been visited. Currently, such information is only available from communications companies by request, however such information is not always available.
The Home Office’s response to the critics is the claim that the database is the necessary evolution that the country’s technology must take as the war on terror edges on through to the New Year.
A spokesman for the Home Office stated, “The communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we collect communications data needs to change so that law enforcement agencies can maintain their ability to tackle serious crime and terrorism. To ensure that we keep up with technological advances we intend to consult widely on proposals in the New Year. We have been very clear that there are no plans for a database containing the content of emails, texts or conversations.”
One unnamed private company has voiced its fears about such a database, claiming that, “If there is a breach of security in that database it would be utterly devastating.”