UK government ministers are to consider plans for a database of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK, it has emerged. The plans, reported in the Times, are at an early stage and may be included in the draft Communications Bill later this year, the Home Office confirmed.
A Home Office spokesman said the data was a "crucial tool" for protecting national security and preventing crime. The Home Office spokesman added: "The Communications Data Bill will help ensure that crucial capabilities in the use of communications data for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime continue to be available."
However, the UK privacy watchdog is concerned about this development and Jonathan Bamford, Assistant Information Commissioner said: "We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Holding large collections of data is always risky; the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen. Defeating crime and terrorism is of the utmost importance, but we are not aware of any pressing need to justify the government itself holding this sort of data. If there is a problem with the current arrangements, we stand ready to advise on how they can be improved, rather than creating an additional system to house all records".