I woke up this morning to an article on BBC Radio 4 concerning the forthcoming Data Retention Act (see previous post on this). The article was then carried several times on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, my local station – I’m sure it would have been repeated in all the regions.
The BBC’s slant concerned human rights and seemed to have been triggered by Human rights organisation “Liberty”. What has been happening since my post on the subject is that the tone of the Government’s conversation has moved on towards looking for a centralised database containing records of many different types of communications and not just email and telephony. This might include SMS, IM etc.
Nothing is set in stone here but I have concerns on two fronts. Firstly the technical cost and impracticality of implementing such a database would be huge and criminals would always be able to find ways around appearing on the records. Secondly is very much the human rights angle. 2008 saw a number of high profile examples of the loss personal data of millions of people because of stolen laptops and lost memory sticks.
I want to help the authorities catch criminals and haven’t really been too concerned in the past about their keeping my own personal records on file because I am a good boy. However in the light of last year’s data losses and because it is fundamentally not possible to totally trust the government (which is one of the reasons that democracies have elections) I have changed my tune.
If you want to read the BBC article online you can find it here.