A government run database holding the telephone and internet communications of the entire population would raise serious data protection concerns, the Information Commissioner, warned today. Commenting on speculation that the government is considering the development of such a database Richard Thomas said that it would be “a step too far for the British way of life”.
He continued: “I am absolutely clear that the targeted, and duly authorised, interception of the communications of suspects can be invaluable in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime. But there needs to be the fullest public debate about the justification for, and implications of, a specially-created database (potentially accessible to a wide range of law enforcement authorities) holding details of everyone’s telephone and internet communications. Do we really want the police, security services and other organs of the state to have access to more and more aspects of our private lives?”
In another blow for the Government, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is today serving enforcement notices against HM Revenue and Customs and the Ministry of Defence following recent high profile data breaches. The notices require both departments to provide progress reports documenting in detail how the recommendations have been, or are being, implemented to improve Data Protection compliance. Failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice is a criminal offence.