UK data watchdog blasts snoop list

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London, July 16 : Britain's data watchdog has come down heavily on alleged government moves to create a database that will contain every phone call, text message, e-mail and Internet interaction.

The Sun quoted Information Commissioner Richard Thomas as warning that the plans would be "a step too far for the British way of life".

Thomas also voiced concern about another new national database, for the network of hi-tech Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.

The roadside spies already take up to 50 million images of cars a day, he revealed.

His dramatic intervention came as ministers prepare to unveil a new communications data draft bill.

The Government has said it wants to "modify" rules on intercepting calls, emails and texts, Thomas fears the new laws will create massive databases.

He supported new powers to intercept phone calls, e-mails and texts in the fight against terror and crime, but questioned whether it meant the state should keep details on "every phone call, e-mail, internet search, online transaction and so on".

He added: "Just as threats to national security remind us privacy and data protection cannot be absolute rights, so the fight against these evils must not run roughshod over our liberties.

"Sometimes the best-intentioned plans bring the most insidious threats, where freedoms are not appreciated until it is too late to turn the clock back," he added. The watchdog said ministers must answer serious concerns about the proposals.

ANI

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