Monday, January 5, 2009

Jacqui Smith to end privacy for our own sake

In story which appears to have sneaked out with far less fanfare than what amounts to the Death Of Liberty (too much?) would deserve, the government is intending to create a monster database of every phone call, text, email and website visit in the UK. Apparently, these details will be kept for 12 months and the system is estimated to cost a whopping £12 billion (so presumably it will cost about double that). I have a couple of concerns about this:
  • We do live in a free society, don't we? Not content with filming us every time we leave our homes the Government want to track everything we type while in them. I am "not happy" with this.
  • It won't work. The bigger the Government IT project, the more likely it is to never be delivered.
  • Its a waste of billions of pounds? £12 billion between the population of the UK is £200 each. Can I just have the £200 and you agree not to track my every move? Actually, include my whole household and make it £800.
  • I have to come back to the whole freedom and privacy thing. Its worth saying twice. This is wrong.
  • IF it worked, the possibility of a laptop with all my emails and texts and web surfing history being left on a train or sold on eBay or something is just a bit too real.
The usual arguments about stopping criminals and terrorists will be trotted out of course, but fitting 1984 style surveillance into every home in the country could be justified on these grounds. You have to draw a line somewhere, and this is way over any reasonable placing of that line.

This was all announced in November, the new bit to this story is that our wonderful home secretary Jacqui Smith has now proposed that this nightmare Orwellian project be outsourced to a private contractor to reduce costs. So now on top of everything else it will all be handled by the lowest bidder, probably not even a UK company. Not that I'm saying I trust the Govenment with this information either you understand, but this does sound worse.

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