Author: Au Contraire

The Sky article is old news now, but this law should be kept under constant review. Not by law makers but by us, lest we forget we are being monitored.

The government’s Interception Modernisation Programme swung into action in the middle of March.

Part of this requires that records of every call, e-mail, web browsing session and text message are stored for a rolling 12 month period.

We are assured that the only information stored will not be content, just who contacted whom and when. This presumably includes the ISP address or other identifier used at the time.

This information is costing billions of pounds to collect and the government will be handing over somewhere between £25M and £75M a year to the ISPs to help with the collection costs.

This data must therefore be extremely important. If so, one can draw the conclusion that it would be a ripe target for misuse. It could also prove to be personally disastrous for someone if the data was inaccurate.

We should all therefore not trust this system. We should, once a year, using the Data Protection Act demand all the information that the ISP has gathered about us and challenge anything we do not recognise, just as we should challenge speed camera accuracy and overzealous parking car clamping. We should also demand that any information of this type over 12 months old be permanently deleted. That means that the storage medium should be destroyed to ensure this happens.

The media must keep the pressure on and constantly ask if this strategy is cutting crime and terrorism. If the results are not quantifiable then the scheme should be scrapped. Another reason for the media spotlight is to prevent the inevitable extension of the law to include the retention of communication content and to extend the time frame to a rolling 10 years say. With storage technology advances this will be possible, if it isn’t already.

We must do this otherwise we will fall into the trap of trusting technology and the government too much. When has that ever proved to be even vaguely satisfactory?

Originally posted 10/04/2009

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