Britain may outsource huge surveillance database

Britain is moving forward with plans for a huge database tracking phone calls and emails and may even outsource it to private companies.

I guess Britain's Home Office didn't get the memo about abusive surveillance programs being scaled back in the waning days of the war on terror. Britain is moving forward with a £12 billion plan for a massive database to track every phone call, email and chat conversation in the country. And not only that – the database project would likely be outsourced to private firms, The Telegraph reports.

Sir Ken MacDonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, calls the database a "hellhouse" of personal private information. And despite the government's assurances that the content of emails would not be stored and that the data would be strongly protected ("We have been very clear that there are no plans for a database containing any content of emails, texts of conversations," a Home Office spokesman said), the fact remains that the British government is leaky as a colander when it comes to personal information.

Last year they lost 25 million child benefit records by the HM Revenue and Customs.

Sir Ken simply doesn't believe the government would be able to prevent improper exposure of the data.

Authorisations for access might be written into statute. The most senior ministers and officials might be designated as scrutineers. But none of this means anything. All history tells us that reassurances like these are worthless in the long run. In the first security crisis the locks would loosen.

The tendency of the state to seek ever more powers of surveillance over its citizens may be driven by protective zeal. But the notion of total security is a paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile. This database would be an unimaginable hellhouse of personal private information. It would be a complete readout of every citizen's life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls.

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