UK Govt. To Store Every Email And Text Message

    May 20, 2008

The UK government is considering creating a huge database that would hold all the details of emails, phone calls and text messages of it residents in an effort to guard against crime and terrorism

Currently, records of phone calls and text messages are stored up to 12 months by telecom companies in accordance with a EU anti-terrorism directive.

A new Home Office (Interior Ministry) proposal would require Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms to turn over records of emails, Internet usage and voice over Internet calls.

The Home Office said technology had rapidly developed over the last 15 years. "The changes to the way we communicate, due particularly to the Internet revolution, will increasingly undermine our current capabilities to obtain communications data and use it to protect the public," it said in a statement.

"To ensure that our public authorities and law enforcement agencies can continue to use this valuable tool, the government is planning to bring forward the Communications Data Bill."

Information would be held for 12 months and could be accessed by the police and security services if they obtain a warrant.

"We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society, " said assistant Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford. "Holding large collections of data is always risky. The more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen."

More than 50 billion text messages are sent every year in the UK, and over three billion emails are sent every day.