As the powers of RIPA have expanded beyond what they were expected (though still within the legislation), so the goverment plans to monitor even more data.
The UK government is now “considering” a UK database of all communications, including emails, websites visited, phone calls (landline and mobile). The database would store the information for 12 months, and the police and security services (MI5, MI6, GCHQ, etc). Under the RIPA act local councils have used powers to spy and follow people, so a fear is that many others groups and agencies will be able to search the data.
Once this database exists the ability to search, and cross reference this data will be phenomenal. An obvious concern to even the most innocent and ardent proponents of “if you did nothing you have nothing to fear” is that “connection”. E.g if you call somebody, who calls somebody, who calls a “terrorist” then you are, immediately connected to a terrorist. If you get sent a “funny” spam email from a person who is 2 or three steps away from you, as he has your email address from previous email chains then you will be linked to the “terrorist”. As goverments defintion of a “terrorist” (particularly that of the US government) it is very loosely defined the probability of having an email or a phone call linking an innocent person to a suspect is highly likely. Once that link is made the innocent person is no longer “innocent” as they are linked to terrorism, and warrants to search the individuals home, computer, email accounts, and bank records could easily be obtained.
Brown government is considering a central database of all UK communications data including times and durations of phone calls, emails and internet access for every British citizen.
The draft bill is still being considered by ministers and a Home Office spokeswoman told us no decision had yet been reached.
The Assistant Information Commissioner, Jonathan Bamford, said: “If the intention is to bring all mobile and internet records together under one system, this would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the state to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable…
The government is blaming Europe for the changes. The European Data Retention Directive seeks to ensure that investigators have access to this information, as they do under existing UK law, but does not call for centralized, government-run databases.