Civil Liberties

Privacy Complaints Scuttle Plan for British Database


In the February issue of Reason, I noted the British government's plan to assemble a giant database of all communication traffic in the U.K., include websites visited, phone numbers dialed, and email addresses of message senders and recipients. Law enforcement agencies would be able to use the information at their discretion, although they would still need ministerial warrants (a kind of administrative subpoena) to read the contents of messages or listen to phone calls. The Independent reports that a public outcry about the privacy implications of the dragnet has led the government to abandon the plan, at least until after the election. The paper quotes "a Whitehall source" who says the project is "in the very long grass," which I gather is a quaint British expression, possibly derived from cricket, meaning that the plan may yet be revived, but not in the immediate future.

More on privacy in the U.K. here, here, and here.

[Thanks to Eric Jon Magnuson for the tip.]