Legality of Communications Data Bill questioned

News by Dan Raywood

The legality of the government's central database has been questioned.

The legality of the government's central database has been questioned.


As previously reported by SC, the plan is to store details of all phone calls, e-mails and internet use in a database and it is due to be introduced in the Queen's Speech in November.


Rik Ferguson Senior Security Advisor at Trend Micro, claimed that the concept is designed as a ‘national solution to something that is an international problem – cyber crime' but that it is initially flawed due to technical considerations around where data actually flows.


Ferguson said: “There is no guarantee that the government under this rule is going to be able to monitor the people this legislation will ostensibly be aimed at, as people who have something to hide will be aware and will have the knowledge to be able to hide themselves.


“For example; when using a VPN, traffic doesn't come out on the internet “in the clear” until it has usually lost all trace of the real point of origin.. So, in this example as the connection is encrypted, and very often proxied before the request makes it out onto the internet; certainly from a different source IP address and possibly even in a different country, for those who know how it is very easy not to be visible to the authorities.”


Ferguson also raised a question on how the government will handle the security of personal details, describing the government's recent track record in securing confidential information “not very confidence inspiring.”


Ferguson said: “This brings into play the data protection act, as you have to have consent to collect and process personal information. The law regarding interceptions and phone taps is also important here as you require a warrant to do that, it is interesting to note that they are saying that they will have to change the law to make this database feasible.


“It is currently technically possible, it will be a lot of data, but in terms of technology it is possible. I don't feel though that they are going to get the information they are really looking for, as it is easy to hide and at the moment, not legal. Recently the government has suffered defeats in the house over legislation of this nature and to ask the question of whether they would get it through before the next election? I would say probably not.”



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