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Proposed communications database a huge threat to individual information security

PGP (GB) : 20 May, 2008  (Technical Article)
A proposed bill for phone calls and e-mail communication information to be held in a central Government database criticised as the next step towards a surveillance society
New proposals could see the introduction of a new 'super-database' containing the details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK, as well as details of UK citizens' internet usage. The proposed Communications Bill, a further step in the Government's fight against crime and terrorism, has been met with a negative reception - with Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, stating that once again we are "sleepwalking into a surveillance society".

Jamie Cowper at data protection and encryption expert PGP Corporation has made the following comments:

"You've got to admire the government's gall in attempting to bring in yet another 'super-database' with public confidence still in tatters over recent lapses in data protection. Surely it would be more logical to initially focus on fixing the existing databases and proving their security before introducing new ones?

Even more worrying is that while the public is "sleepwalking" into a surveillance society, the Government seems to have its eyes wide open - although, unfortunately, to everything except security. The bottom line is this - information of this nature should only be held if - and only if - it can be demonstrated that an appropriate system of checks and balances is in place and the security of the information being stored is of paramount concern.

Going forward, any talk of data storage on this scale will certainly need to be accompanied by a detailed examination of how technologies such as encryption will be used to defend that data. This is the only way to ensure the return of public confidence and guarantee the credibility of future database proposals."
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