Private firm may run ‘spy’ database


Evening Standard
December 31, 2008

A proposed communications database containing details of everybody’s telephone calls, emails and internet use could be run by a private firm, it has been claimed.

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The option to tender out the management of the controversial database will be included in a consultation paper to be published next month, according to the Guardian.

The facility is designed to help police and the Security Service by ensuring they have access to vital communications data which may not be saved by telephone or internet providers.

The plans have already come under fire from civil liberties campaigners.

But Sir Ken McDonald stepped up his attack in light of the Guardian’s report, dismissing the notion that additional legal assurances would ensure the information is not misused.

He told the paper: “All history tells us that reassurances like these are worthless in the long run. In the first security crisis the locks would loosen.”

The database, which critics claim would cost up to £12 billion, is not intended to feature the content of communications, but only the details of internet sites visited and what emails and telephone calls have been made, to whom and at what times.

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