Brits rule out database of emails, phones – they’ll subcontract!

Her other favorite program
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, today ruled out building a single state “super-database” to track everybody’s use of email, internet, text messages and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter…

Instead the Home Office is looking at a £2bn solution that would involve requiring communications companies such as BT, Virgin Media, O2 and others to retain such personal data for up to 12 months.

Isn’t that a halfway George W. Bush kind of solution? Pay your Telco buds to do the spying?

Instead communications companies are to be required by legislation to ensure that all traffic data – who sent a text to whom at what time and from where – is collected and kept in Britain. They will also be asked to store additional third-party data crossing their networks including phone calls and internet use from outside Europe.

This goes far beyond the current data collected for billing purposes. The companies will also be asked to organise the data – for example, matching it where it relates to the same person so that the authorities can access it in a form that is immediately usable.

The British government doesn’t plan to be less creepy. Just outsource tasks to private contractors.

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