UK Daily Mail 
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Plans for a massive database snooping on the entire population were condemned yesterday as a ‘step too far for the British way of life’.
In an Orwellian move, the Home Office is proposing to detail every phone call, e-mail, text message, internet search and online purchase in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime.
But the privacy watchdog, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, warned that the public’s traditional freedoms were under grave threat from creeping state surveillance.
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Apart from the Government’s inability to hold data securely, he said the proposals raised ‘grave questions’.
‘Do the risks we face provide justification for such a scheme in the first place? Do we want the state to have details of more and more aspects of our private lives?
‘Whatever the benefits, would such a scheme amount to excessive surveillance? Would this be a step too far for the British way of life?’
It is thought the scheme would allow the police or MI5 to access the exact time when a phone call was made, the number dialled, the length of the call and, in the case of mobile phones, the location of the handset to within an accuracy of a few hundred yards.
Similarly for e-mails, it would provide details of when they were sent and who the recipients were. Police recovering a suspect’s computer would then be able to trawl through hard-drive records and recover particular messages. The content of telephone calls could not be recovered unless they were being intercepted at the time.
Mr Thomas’s warnings were backed by privacy campaigners, who claimed such Big Brother powers would give Government agencies unprecedented abilities to trawl through intimate details of ordinary people’s private lives at will.