GCHQ email snooping - The story so far

Earlier this week we reported that the government was set to announce a huge database of UK citizens' emails, web usage, text messages and phone calls.

'Dangerous plans'

With all the talk about an Orwellian Big Brother society, this wasn't a huge leap towards the dystopian future that a host of civil liberties campaigners have been protesting about. Indeed, similar plans were officially scrapped by the former Labour government in 2009 following public outcry, but the concept was reignited by the current coalition after ministers said it was vital for identifying and tracking criminals.

Of course Home Secretary Theresa May has been the focal point, with the hilarious National "CC all your emails to Theresa May" Day movement revived during the current furore, with the hope of saving the government the hassle of snooping.

Surveillance database

Earlier this year it was also reported that the UK government was planning a database of citizens' email, phone and web use as part of its Communications Capabilities Development Programme - another follow-on from the previous government's plan to create a comprehensive surveillance database for security use.

At the time it was believed the CCDP would be formally announced in May this year.

Big Data

Analysts have now suggested new legislation could open the door for the development of Big Data technologies as real-time analytics is required to detect whatever criminal activity it is the government is trying to prevent.

A host of organisations will probably not currently have the technology available to deliver information quickly enough, which could prove to be a huge cost burden if they are required to make investments.

A draft version of the new legislation is not expected to be unveiled until the Queen's Speech in May, but IDC said that there is no reason why the announcement should not prompt all organisations to review their data policies.

EU data law

If they aren't doing so already, that is. A new draft EU privacy law announced in January, attempts to harmonise data regulations across Europe and is expected to have a major impact on business and the technology sector in particular. The regulations will make a huge number of requirements for organisations, including a fine increase of 2% of annual worldwide turnover for international businesses who suffer data breaches. All the more reason for companies to take care with customer data.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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