Storm over Big Brother database
Robert Verkaik and Nigel Morris - 15 October 2008
Early plans to create a giant “Big Brother” database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government’s own terrorism watchdog.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the “raw idea” of the database was “awful” and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public.
Today the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to signal the Government’s intention to press ahead with proposals to collect more details about people’s phone, email and web-browsing habits as she warns that the terrorist threat to Britain is growing.
The controversial measure will be included as a way of combating terrorism in the Data Communications Bill, which is to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in December. Ministers are known to be considering the creation of a single database holding all the information, which would include phone numbers dialled and addresses to which emails are sent but not details of phone conversations or the contents of emails.