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UK authorities deny prototype intercept database

Security experts understand that a prototype centralized database has been built, to test whether all U.K. citizens' communications information can be stored.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

According to the U.K. Home Office, no prototype database has been built by either the Home Office or the intelligence services, to test whether all U.K. citizens' communications information can be stored.

As part of the Interception Modernization Program (IMP), the government has been considering whether to propose a centralized database to store the traffic details of all communications of all U.K. citizens.

Part of IMP would be deep packet inspection of all communications and Web data packets to determine who people are communicating with and what they are looking at online. The second part of IMP would be a centralized database to store this information.

Security experts from the Foundation for Information Policy Research understand that a prototype database has been built, according to a report entitled Database State.

The U.K. Home Office on Monday told ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK no prototype IMP database had been built.

"The work of the Interception Modernization Program has not included the construction of a prototype database," said a Home Office spokesperson.

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator for No2ID, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that he doubted the accuracy of the Home Office statement, due to the age of the IMP.

"It's very unlikely [the intelligence services] haven't done at least some limited line testing," said Booth. "It's unlikely they would work for five years on a project and not test it."

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