Feeds

Snoop more, share less - Home Office spurns EU advice

Databases not safe, says database-loving gov

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Government responses to two outwardly unrelated bits of EU policy go a long way to explain what it really thinks about the War on Terror and the rights of individual citizens.

At present, the government collects data on passenger movements across UK borders. This is gathered from sources such as travel agents and airlines, and is handed over to the Home Office through the e-borders programme.

According to the Telegraph, it includes personal information such as a passenger's name, address, itinerary, meal preference, sex, credit card numbers and details of their travel companions.

The Home Office admits it has collected this level of detail on 54 million people since the launch of e-borders in January 2005. There are also plans afoot to extend the e-borders scheme to some internal travel within the UK - between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

For once, the EU appears to be on the side of the angels, as it has asked the UK to restrict the use of "Passenger Name Record" data to fighting terrorism and organised crime. In this it is supported by a recent Lords report calling on the government to draw up a list of specific list of offences that would be covered by the e-borders programme – with officials not allowed to use information to probe any further.

As expected, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith rejected this on the grounds that such rules would be too narrow and the government preferred to retain the ability to use the data to pursue “any serious crime”. Given the gov's record on RIPA, this presumably could also include dog-fouling and failing to fill your bins properly.

Meanwhile, in another story, also in today’s Telegraph, the government appears to be resisting EU suggestions that the fight against terror could be enhanced if security agencies such as MI5 and MI6 were prepared to share data with their European counterparts.

Under these plans, all countries would feed secret information into a central intelligence unit so that any member state can use it.

Clearly there are pros and cons to such a scheme. The British rightly object that such a database would be as secure as the weakest access point to it – an argument that oddly doesn’t seem to hold much weight with the Home Office when it comes to its own plans for a centralised UK database containing details of all citizens.

Still, its nice to see what this government really means when it comes to “joined up thinking”.

Terror is such an enormous threat that centuries old civil liberties must be sacrificed and overturned within the UK. Anyone who fails to buy into the government’s latest hare-brained scheme for fighting terror is obviously at some remove a closet collaborator. At least, that appeared to be the argument when it came to “42 days”.

When someone else has a scheme that might actually be useful in combating terror, the burden of proof is suddenly reversed – and the Government’s answer is an instant Gaullist “Non”.

When it comes to collecting our personal data, however, terror just isn’t enough. Of course it would be useful to store personal data in order to fight terror. But it would also help the fight against organised crime. And serious crime. And anything else that happens to occur to Whitehall at the time. ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.