Government Party Like It’s 1984

It occurs to me that the British Government  must have been singularly unimpressed with the lack of fuss that their implementation of the EU Data Retention Directive caused among internet users in the UK.


I covered the implementation of the directive in a blog post on Monday, but in a nutshell it obliges ISPs to keep records for 12 months of every email sent and received by every customer.


It seems this level of snooping though is not enough, as a House of Commons General Committee is now mooting the idea of enforcing the retention of data on all social networking sites! And I quote:


“Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I was hoping that in the interests of clarity the Minister could explain whether applications such as Facebook or instant messaging are covered by the directive.

Mr. Coaker: No. Social networking sites, such as MySpace or bebo, are not covered by the directive. That is one reason why the Government are looking at what we should do about the intercept modernisation programme because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive.
Tom Brake: Clearly one of the principal purposes of the directive is to tackle crime. The Minister may be aware that in France it has been suggested that Facebook is being used as a means of obtaining drugs. People are aware that it is not covered by legislation in France and, from what the Minister is saying, it is not going to be covered by legislation here either.

Mr. Coaker: That is an extremely fair point. Let me be clear about what we are doing. We are transposing the directive. With all due respect, I would be in trouble with the hon. Member for Wellingborough if I then said that we had gone further than the directive, because we would then be retaining data over and above what the directive requires us to do. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington will also know the controversy that currently surrounds the intercept modernisation programme. I look forward to his support when we present intercept modernisation programme proposals, which may include requiring the retention of data on Facebook, bebo, MySpace and all other similar sites.
I don’t know what’s more worrying, this level of intrusion of privacy, the fact that both of my blog posts on this subject have been named after eighties songs, or the fact that I had to look up how to conjugate the verb “to party”!

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