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Liberal Democrat Lords challenge telephone and internet record database proposals

November 17, 2008 5:25 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat peers have defended a person's right to privacy, as the Government continue with plans to compile a huge database, containing records of all telephone calls, emails and text messages.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer described the measures as a "huge step" towards "a person with a right to privacy...being treated as a suspect." She questioned how effective the costly proposals would prove, given the vast amounts of correspondence the database would contain.

"With 3 billion e-mails - that is, 35,000 every second - 18 million internet connections and 57 billion text messages a year, does he think that this is really likely to prove the most effective way of fighting terrorism, given that the estimated cost will be up to £12 billion?"

Lord Avebury supported Baroness Miller's comments, highlighting the distinction "between looking at individual accesses with a view to the detection of particular crimes...and the collection of a record of every telephone conversation, every internet access and every text message made by you and me across the board, to be kept in a government-held database for ever." He called on the Government to publish a PowerPoint presentation given to internet service providers explaining the proposal in detail.

Lord Thomas of Gresford suggested, "that the information should be available only for the solution of serious crime" to safeguard against government abuse.

Read the full debate here