Immediate – 13th June 2012
It is reported that on Thursday morning (14th June) the Home Secretary will announce a ‘Communications Data Bill’, the heavily-trailed Whitehall plan to get automatic access to records of ALL online activity in the UK.
First openly proposed by the Labour administration in 2008 , the bizarrely secret-but-widely-canvassed programme would force internet and telephone companies to keep detailed records of all their customers’ communications, downloads and browsing, location data and contacts. In the final vision, machines and software controlled by the authorities would be live on the net at all times and have privileges to crawl through the vast masses of data collected on the public.
Campaign group NO2ID  has previously pointed out that this scheme is ‘leapfrogging China’ and will ensure Britain remains the most watched society on earth. 
This is pretended to be ‘maintaining capacity’ – but the vital difference is not just a hugely greater scope of surveillance, but that it would not be limited by the need to ask anyone for the information.
What will be maintained is the system established in 2000 where surveillance is initiated without a warrant or any kind of scrutiny of individual cases. The Surveillance Commissioners are called ‘watchdogs’ but only check the procedure by which hundreds of official bodies authorize themselves, not their justification for doing it.
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
This makes Coalition promises to ‘roll-back the database state’ laughable. A system of secret, silent, total surveillance that can be turned on and off at will: a free-for-all for every official with an itch to investigate any citizen.
If it is to stop short of tyranny, then the watchers must be brought under a real rule of law. Before talking about expanding these powers, we should establish a simple rule with judges protecting our privacy unless there is good reason to invade it: no surveillance without a warrant.’
Notes for editors:
1) ‘Jacqui Smith plans broad new ‘Big Brother’ surveillance powers’ – Telegraph 15 Oct 2008
2) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people.
3) ‘Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan – NO2ID 19 Feb 2012
That release contains much more background information.
For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:
Guy Herbert (General Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org) on 07956 544 308 (London)
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, email@example.com) on 07817 605 162 (Leeds)