Anti-terror plans lead to storage of personal communication data

New anti-terror plans created by the Government will result in the storage of email traffic, website browsing history, text message, and calls in large databases.

Mobile and landline phone companies, as well as broadband providers, will now be forced to store all of this data for a year and to make it available to security services as needed as part of the new scheme.

The databases will not be able to record the content of texts, calls, and emails, but it will store the addresses of emails and numbers that are used for communication by customers. This will allow security services to have instant access to social information such as who talks to each other social sites such as Facebook. Communications between Twitter users and players in online games will also be stored.

The Home Office has been negotiating with internet providers over the past two months working on the plan that is expected to be announced officially around the month of May. It expected that the announcement will cause protests over people that feel their civil liberties are being infringed upon, and there will also likely be concern over how secure the records will be kept.

This is due to the fact that hackers would treat the information as highly prized and therefore it is likely that they will attempt to break into the databases in order to steal the data. The information could be used to send out mass texts and emails and the website browsing history could be sold for commercial gain.

The plan was created with the advice of the home security service, MI5, M16 and the GCHQ. The information will not be stored centrally by the government, but will instead be held by the actual providers such as O2, BT, Virgin Media, Sky, and Vodafone. As part of the new security scheme the security services will be able to get ‘real time’ access to the internet and phone records of people that arouse suspicions.

They also will be able to reconstruct the movements of people via the information that is contained in the databases. The system would also allow them to find out ‘who, when, and where’ in regards to who these people have contracted allowing them to figure out their exact movements. This would allow them to carefully monitor those they are concerned about.

This is due to the fact that texts and call records show within metres of where the text message was sent or where a call was made. At the same time, internet browsing histories and email histories can be traced to an IP address which reveals where a message was sent from.

The scheme is the result of a plan that was originally created by the Labour government. The original scheme would have seen the information stored in a central database at the government, but the idea was later scrapped and adapted so that information was stored by the providers instead although the taxpayers will still have to pay for it.

The entire idea was cancelled after many public bodies criticised it because of concerns over who would be able to access the data. Labour decided to place the programme on the shelf because the project did not receive much public support.

However, as terrorist concerns have increased over the use of modern technology for threatening purposes, the security services have decided to reopen the idea. It still faces public opposition and the overwhelming fear that the information could be misused, harming individuals who have mistakenly been singled out.