A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.
The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.
As The Register notes [emphasis mine]:
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act passed in 2000 and the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, companies like telcos and internet service providers already have to keep this information in case it is needed by a police or security service investigation.
It appears what is different now is that this information will be actively collected and stored in one place by the government. Reports on the proposals suggest authorities will still need to go to the courts to gain access to the database. However, such a massive amount of data will be ripe for speculative data-mining and fishing techniques, rather than more targeted searches.
More to the point, given this government’s gross incompetence in safeguarding any of our data, having all our comms info in one place has to be a major concern.
…The government is blaming Europe for the changes. The European Data Retention Directive seeks to ensure that investigators have access to this information, as they do under existing UK law, but does not call for centralised, government-run databases.
…Unregistered mobile phones and VoIP services like Skype mean that the proposed law will catch only the densest of criminals.