Sunday, Aug 17, 2008
With every telephone call, swipe of a card and click of a mouse, information is being recorded, compiled and stored about Britain’s citizens.
An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has now uncovered just how much personal data is being collected about individuals by the Government, law enforcement agencies and private companies each day.
In one week, the average person living in Britain has 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, most of which is kept in databases for years and in some cases indefinitely.
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The data include details about shopping habits, mobile phone use, emails, locations during the day, journeys and internet searches.
In many cases this information is kept by companies such as banks and shops, but in certain circumstances they can be asked to hand it over to a range of legal authorities.
Britain’s information watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, has called for tighter regulation of the amount of data held about citizens and urged the public to restrict the information they allow organisations to hold on them.
This newspaper’s findings come days after the Government published plans to grant local authorities and other public bodies access to the email and internet records of millions. Phone companies already retain data about their customers and give it to 650 public bodies on request.
The loss of data by Government departments, including an incident where HM Revenue and Customs mislaid computer disks containing the personal details of 25 million people, has heightened concerns about the amount of information being stored.
This article was posted: Sunday, August 17, 2008 at 5:11 am