Business internet security

Home Secretary announcement on Communications Data

Big in the news yesterday was Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith’s announcement that the Government will not be creating a central facility to store details of our telephone and email communications.  It even made prime time BBC TV News. Instead the Government will pursue a strategy of getting individual Communications Providers to store their own customers’ information.

I wasn’t going to comment on this because there was so much press coverage, much of which included answering statements infrom the industry trade body ISPA which I had already had a hand in. It is however worth restating some of the points.

Firstly I am, as an individual, nervous about having all this information situated in a single central database.  It is a near certainty that at some time all of it will be compromised, either by negligence or by criminal activity. 

Secondly I think the Government is misguided if it believes that it will be able to excercise any sort of control over what happens on the internet.  Technology is changing so quickly that any system implemented by Government is going to be expensive whatever its purpose (monitoring/intercept, preventing P2P illegal downloads, preventing access to illegal websites, location tracking etc etc -) and would very quickly be out of date.  The costs of maintaining it would be a significant line item in any budget statement.

Moreover, based on track record, you can bet your bottom dollar that the time taken to implement any such a system(s) would be so long that it would probably have to be reinvented several times during its development and eventually end up in Regents Park Zoo in the White Elephant enclosure. 

PS I can see an idea for the next sci fi movie blockbuster here. It’s a cops and robbers story in cyberspace. Hollywood producers queue here 🙂

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

4 replies on “Home Secretary announcement on Communications Data”

The press reports on this are a bit misleading – the government has already passed legislation compelling all ISPs to log and store internet and phone data. This is to comply with EU legislation – Directive 2006/24/EC; the government has no choice but to incorporate the Directive into British law (so much for democracy).

As ever, the EU element in this has been left out of the presentation. The idea to create a central database was dreamt up by the government itself, in its eagerness to increase its surveillance of the whole population. In this case, we have both the EU and our own government eager to destroy any privacy we have.

Apparently, you’ll need to send Mrs Smith a copy of the internet on a DVD once a month so she can go through it and check for changes.

Seriously, this sort of thing shows just how clueless these people are, it’s laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

To make it easier to comment on the consultation document, we’ve republished the document at

The republication also gives links for every section, subsection and paragraph in the consultation document, so you can ‘remotely comment’ in detail on the consultation doc from the convenience of your own blog, simply by linking to the appropriate part.

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