According to a report on Telegraph, British authorities are planning on setting up a large scale surveillance programme of its citizens. The report, which did not cite any sources, says that landline, mobile and broadband companies will be asked to store customer data so that they could provide it in real-time to the authorities if needed.
This stored database will not have actual content of the call, but the details of the sender and recipient. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will also be included in this monitoring program.
For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.
The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.
All this data will be stored by the respective companies rather than the government itself. This move can be highly controversial since this database can be of high significance to the companies themselves as well as some third parties.
Telecom companies can track a customer’s behavior from his/her communication in order to provide targeted advertisement. Also, this kind of database will be of extremely high value to the hackers around the world and what kind of security measures, the telecom companies will implement to protect this database is a very valid question.
The report states that legislative time for this programme (called Communications Capabilities Development Programme or CCDP) will be allocated in the Queen’s Speech in May.
Privacy advocates have already raised their concerns.
“This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want access to this. And if communications providers have a government mandate to start collecting this information they will be incredibly tempted to start monitoring this data themselves so they can compete with Google and Facebook. The internet companies will be told to store who you are friends with and interact with. While this may appear innocuous it requires the active interception of every single communication you make, and this has never been done in a democratic society”, Guy Hosein of Privacy International said in a statement.
UK is already in the line of fire, after the News of the World phone tapping scandal. Now, how its citizens are going to react to legislation that will legalize monitoring their communication activities is to be seen.