Thursday, 4 October 2007

Big Brother really is watching you

In order to comply with an EU directive on the retention of phone data, this July, the UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, agreed a new law, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 requiring phone companies to log every call, or text message, sent to and from every phone in Britain.

We should be concerned about this because it is effectively being imposed on the UK by a directive. It is being done under a law made up by the Government, not Parliament and then just slid in with little democratic oversight under a seven year old act.

The details logged include: The subscriber information, calls made, calls received and the location where the calls are made from.

We should be concerned about that because it is deeply intrusive. There will be the usual tired old excuses about if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear that the more naive and trusting old grannies actually believe, but this is yet another erosion of our privacy on the road to a total surveillance society.

Much of this information is in fact not restricted to the police, or security services as you might imagine.

No - It can be accessed by virtually any local authority, government department, body, or Quango who cares to. Including, but not limited to, the DSS, the Gaming Board, the Food Standards Authority and every District and County Council in the country. Around 652 public bodies in all.

The civil rights group Liberty are rightly concerned over this and so should everyone else be. Your local council can, if it wishes, unbeknown to you, build up profile of your personal relationships, on the basis of who you speak to and when you do it.

Make no mistake. Now these powers are there to be used, they will, sooner or later, be used. They are another nail in Liberty’s coffin.