This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.X

Government lines up central database of phone and internet records

Share this article:
ISPs and telecoms companies are to be compelled to provide information on their users' phone and internet activity under a new law announced by the Prime Minister last week. The information is likely to be held in one large central database, compromising billions of records.

The law, the Communications Data Bill, is an extension to existing laws which state that telecoms providers must store the details of phone calls and text messages for 12 months.

The Bill will take those requirements one stage further by requiring suppliers to provide a wider array of information. For phone calls, both fixed and mobile, service providers will have to provide information on who called who, when, and for how long. For internet usage, the law will mandate keeping a record of users' activity. The actual content of phone calls and internet usage will not have to be monitored.

The information will be made available to the police and security services if they obtain permission from the courts.

The draft bill is set to be released later this year, though ministers have yet to discuss the plan. The Bill will implement the remainder of the European Union's Data Retention Directive, for which the European Commission has set a deadline of March 2009 for implementation.

The Home Office said that the evolution of communications and the internet was hindering the Government's effectiveness in protecting citizens, and as a result it was planning to bring forward the Bill.

But the Government's privacy watchdog was not impressed with the plans. "If the intention is to bring all mobile and internet records together under one system, this would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far," said Jonathan Bamford, assistant information commissioner. "We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable. Proper safeguards would be needed to ensure that the data is only used for the proper purpose of detecting crime."

The Conservatives also came out fighting against the plans. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, quoted in The Times, said: "Given [ministers'] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people's sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security than a support."

The Government has been widely criticised for other centralised databases, such as the NHS patients' database, part of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), and the ID cards scheme.
Share this article:

Next Article in News

SC webcasts on demand

This is how to secure data in the cloud

Exclusive video webcast & Q&A sponsored by Vormetric

As enterprises look to take advantage of the cloud, they need to understand the importance of safeguarding their confidential and sensitive data in cloud environments. With the appropriate security safeguards, such as fine-grained access policies, a move to the cloud is as, or more, secure than an on-premise data storage.

View the webcast here to find out more

More in News

Sandworm vulnerability seen targeting SCADA-based systems

Sandworm vulnerability seen targeting SCADA-based systems

Hard on the heels of the `Sandworm' spy group revealed by iSIGHT Partners earlier in the week, Trend Micro says its has spotted the zero-day vulnerability of the same name ...

Russian-speaking criminals account for £420m of card fraud annually

Russian-speaking criminals account for £420m of card fraud ...

New research claims to quantify the scale of card fraud in Russian speaking circles. And according to Group-IB's analysis over the last year, that fraud clocks in at a hefty ...

Light-based printer attack overcomes air-gapped computer security

Light-based printer attack overcomes air-gapped computer security

Multi-function printers - a route to bypass air-gapped computer security.