UK data protection commissioner criticises planned central database
Commissioner Richard Thomas, of the UK Information Commissioners Office (ICO), has criticised government plans to set up a central database (PDF) holding all of the information collected by telephone companies and ISPs under telecommunications data retention regulations. According to the Thomas, central storage of all telephone and internet communications of the entire population would go "a step too far for the British way of life."
Thomas' main concern is that numerous law enforcement agencies would have open access to the database and calls for a wide-ranging public discussion, "Do we really want the police, security services and other organs of the state to have access to more and more aspects of our private lives?" He also expresses the opinion that there has been insufficient public and parliamentary debate on expanding the DNA database and the introduction of centralised collection and retention of data from automatic number plate recognition cameras.
At present in the UK, telecommunications and internet connection data collected under data retention laws are stored by individual telecoms providers and ISPs, and separate warrant applications are required if the police or other security agencies wish to access them. The idea of central data storage has been the subject of criticism after numerous incidents in which public bodies have lost citizens' personal data.