I’ve just read an article from the BBC News about a new law which requires phone companies (landline and mobile) to retain records of calls and texts for up to a year. Details of these will be available upon request to a number of public bodies, including the police and councils.
What worries me about this is the lack of discussion and debate about it – this is the first I’d heard of the idea and it’s now law! There is no detail in this report about how easy it is for these groups to get at the data, nor what level of data will be accessible by them. Whilst I can see how this could be used to reduce crime and fight terrorism I do worry that it’s just a knee-jerk reaction and is totally out of proportion to what’s really going on. I do recognise that these are big problems, but I still believe that the vast majority of the country are decent law-abiding folks, and collecting data on their whereabouts will just overload systems and then enable the data to be used for nefarious purposes which the government and individuals have no control over.
This seems to me to be a cause of the gradual erosion of trust in strangers, which is undermining communities and escalating differences between groups of people.
Distrust and continual surveillance…I’m sure that reminds me of a story I read somewhere…