The UK government has decided to spend hundreds of millions of pounds (gajillions of dollars in real currency) on a huge central silo for all of the country's communications data. What'll that entail? Well, apparently "the one-stop-shop database will retain details of all calls, texts, emails, instant messenger conversations and websites accessed in the UK for up to two years." Oh my.
This Orwellian nightmare centre would obviously take a while to get put together, and it's not clear exactly what it'll consist of or how it'll be put together. The folks behind it have, however, figured out a way to push it through without requiring approval by parliament.
Sources said secret briefings revealed the cost of the database would run to nine figures and has already been factored into government spending plans. The IMP budget was part of the intelligence agencies' undisclosed allocation in the Comprehensive Spending Review last year. In an answer to a parliamentary question on 8 July, the Home Office refused to provide any budgetary details, citing national security concerns.
A Communications Data Bill mandating the database was expected to be proposed before the summer parliamentary recess, but did not appear. It had been planned that the database would be bundled with the EU Data Retention Directive (EUDRD), which must be enshrined in UK law by March 2009.
However, last week the government released a consultation paper on transposing the Directive as a standalone statutory instrument. Laws made by statutory instrument do not require a vote in Parliament.
Well, I guess the silver lining here is that all this garbage going on in the UK is making the US seem like a shining beacon of freedom and privacy. Which is not a good sign for you poor Brits. [The Register]