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Mother of All Databases Could Become Big Brother Nightmare, says UK Government Watchdog

The attempt by the current UK government to log each and every email, browsing session and phone calls made in the UK, in what some have called a Big brother database, has been severely criticised by its s own anti-terrorism watchdog.

The independent reviewer of the counter-terrorism laws, Lord Carlile of Berriew, said that the "raw idea" of having such a database would be awful and said that he expects tighter control on how it would be used and accessed.

The news come a couple of days after the equally controversial governmental bill to extend detention to 42 days was rejected by the House of Lords and possibly hours before the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is about to unveil more details about the scheme in a speech.

The proposed legislation would force telephone companies and internet service providers to store millions of phone and internet records - but not their contents - over a period of 12 months which would according to some, be a step too far in controlling who does what, and when.

It would be interesting to see how the government will apply such plans to Voice over IP solutions like Skype which are encrypted, nine months after plans for the huge database were announced in February by Gordon Brown under the "Intercept Modernisation Programme" umbrella.

The database would have to track one trillion emails (with nearly 80 percent of it classified as Spam), 20 million broadband connections and 60 billion SMS per year.

Read UK Government Plans £12 bn Database To Track All Emails, Phone Calls and Browsing Sessions for more background info.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.