Brit Home Secretary faces internal revolt on ”Big Brother” database plan

October 20th, 2008 - 5:37 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct.20 (ANI): British Homse Secretary Jacqui Smith is reportedly facing strong opposition from her senior officials on the government’’s controversial plan to set up a new “Big Brother” national database.
According to a leaked memo, plans by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to set up an eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham to monitor all telephone calls, e-mails and internet visits to be retained to help combat terrorism.
According to The Independent, Smith is insisting that no decision has been taken as yet, added that the new database is one of several options under consideration by the Government.
The Independent disclosed last week that the idea of a central database is being strongly opposed by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of terrorist laws.
Yesterday, a memo leaked to The Sunday Times said that a “significant body of Home Office officials dealing with serious and organised crime” are lobbying against the proposal. They believe it is “impractical, disproportionate, politically unattractive and possibly unlawful from a human rights perspective,” it said.
The paper also reported that everyone buying a mobile phone might have to produce a passport at the point of sale and register their identity. More than half of the UK’’s 72 million mobile phones are “pay as you go”; they are used by terrorists and criminals so they can remain anonymous. The proposed database would have limited value to the security services if these pre-paid phones were not included.
Ministers insist there are no plans to store the content of phone calls, text messages or emails. The most draconian option under consideration would allow the police and intelligence agencies to keep records on who communicated with whom and when.
The Home Office said yesterday that it did “not recognise” the leaked memo.
Last week, Smith dropped plans to allow suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 42 days without charge after they suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Lords. (ANI)

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