Good News, nearly: UK Government Gives Up Plans for Snooping Database

Mixed news today: the UK Home Secretary has given up plans to have a national database to store information on all phonecalls, emails and internet use of UK citizens. Instead, they are going to force communications companies to do that work for them.

I’m pleased they’ve given up the plans, but skeptical about the reasoning. Basically they are getting the same information, but without the political hassle of having to deal with opposition to the national database.

Of course, I’m all for police being able to solve crimes, and having good tools to be able to do that. But there have to be limits. We can imagine a world in which it would be possible to trace every movement of every person via some highly sensitive DNA tracing. We’d be able to track their every move and every contact. Would this be justified given that it would serve to make tracing criminal activity highly effective? I think not.

So, given that there is a limit, we need to reflect on where that limit should be. Personally, I’d be happier with a lot more privacy. And with that I’ll say that I accept that that would mean more risk on my part. But are we really prepared to live in a fearful, totally monitored world just so that we can pretend to be totally safe?

That’s not the world for me, thanks.


2 responses to “Good News, nearly: UK Government Gives Up Plans for Snooping Database”

  1. Don’t you still have the license plate readers? Is all that data stored? Or is it used for one-time searches, enforcement, etc.

    American plates are issued by the individual states and are much harder to read. But we are slowly converting to the Euro-style plates, and a few automatic readers are in use at unmanned security gates (at our container ports) that use those plates.

    The police do use readers for conventional plates, too, but they are largely usable only if the speed is low (or zero).

  2. That’s the grey area – how long this stuff is stored for. They are all over the place, and what people don’t really realise is that the speed cameras which are all over the place are actually dual purpose: they register plates too, and check for car tax, MOT, insurance and everything…

    What is of particular concern is not how good police (or po-leece as McNulty would have it 😉 ) use this access to information, but how the rogues will – and I’m sure they will – access and sell it on, or some idiot from the government will burn it on to CD and leave it on a train.