April 24, 2009
Every phone call, email or website visit will be monitored by the state under plans to be unveiled next week.
The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database.
The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked.
The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners, and the country’s data protection watchdog last night warned the proposals would be “unacceptable.”
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will argue the powers are needed to target terrorists and serious criminals who are taking advantage of the increasing complex nature of communications to plot atrocities and crimes.
A consultation document on the plans, known in Whitehall as the Interception Modernisation Programme, is likely to put great emphasis on the threat facing Britain and warn the alternative to the powers would be a massive expansion of surveillance.
But that will fuel concerns among critics that the Government is using a climate of fear to expand the surveillance state.
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, the country’s data watchdog, told the Daily Telegraph:
“I have no problem with the targeted surveillance of terrorist suspects. But a Government database of the records of everyone’s communications — if that is to be proposed — is not likely to be acceptable to the British public. Remember that records — who? when? where? — can be highly intrusive even if no content is collected.”It is understood Mr Thomas is concerned that even details on who people contact or sites they visit could intrude on their privacy, such as data showing an individual visiting a website selling Viagra.
Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, last month revealed he was considering lobbying ministers over the proposal, which he described as “overkill.”
The proposed powers will allow police and security services to monitor communication “traffic,” which is who calls, texts, emails who, when and where but not what is said.
Similarly they will be able to see which websites someone visits, when and from where but not the content of those visits.
However, if the data sets alarm bells ringing, officials can request a ministerial warrant to intercept exactly what is being sent, including the content.
The consultation is expected to include three options on how the “traffic” information is then stored: a “super database” held by the Government, a database held and run by a quango or private company at arms’ length, or an order to communication providers to store every detail in their own systems, which can then be accessed by the security services if necessary.
A memo written by sources close to the project and leaked last year revealed it was fraught with technical difficulties.
Ms Smith has already claimed local authorities will not have access to the data but the Tories have warned of the “exponential increase in the powers of the state,” while the Liberal Democrats have dubbed the plans “Orwellian” and deeply worrying.
Security services fear a failure to monitor all forms of communications effectively will hamper their ability to combat terrorists and serious criminals. Sir Stephen Lander, chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said:
“Any significant reduction in the capability of law enforcement agencies to acquire and exploit intercept intelligence and evidential communications data would lead to more unsolved murders, more firearms on our streets, more successful robberies, more unresolved kidnaps, more harm from the use of Class A drugs, more illegal immigration and more unsolved serious crime.”
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Plato's Republic: A Blueprint for Totalitarianism - Totalitarianism is a modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control not only all economic and political matters but the attitudes, values and beliefs of its population, erasing the distinction between state and society. The citizen's duty to the state becomes the primary concern of the community, and the goal of the state is the replacement of existing society with a perfect society.
Various totalitarian systems, however, have different ideological goals. For example, of the states most commonly described as totalitarian — the Soviet Union under Stalin, Nazi Germany under Hitler, and the People's Republic of China under Mao — the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union and China sought the universal fulfillment of humankind through the establishment of a classless society (see Communism); German National Socialism, on the other hand, attempted to establish the superiority of the so-called Aryan race.
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Updated 5/5/11 (Newest Additions at End of List)