Mutiny over government database plans

The Home Secretary is facing a mutiny from her own staff over government plans to create a database of where UK citizens send emails, what websites they look at, who they call and even which phone they buy and when.

The "spy database" proposals gained even more controversy last week when Home Secretary Jacqui Smith suggested that officials may soon have the power to monitor what social networkers do online sites including Facebook.

Then there were plans announced that would mean UK citizens having to show their passport to buy a mobile phone (something Vodafone is apparently already looking into).

But not everyone in government is happy about the plans.

An internal memo has leaked that reveals a "significant body of Home Office officials, who deal with serious and organised crime are privately lobbying against the database plans".

The memo reveals that this group believes the proposals to be "impractical, disproportionate, politically unattractive and possibly unlawful from a human rights perspective".

The Times suggests that the rebels have already managed to force Smith to stall plans to announce a bill in the Queen’s speech and she is also reported to have ordered her officials to review the proposals.

As well as the rebels in the Home Office, external bodies are dissenting.

Jack Wraith, of the data communications group of the Association of Chief Police Officers, described the plans as "mission creep".

He added: "If someone’s got enough personal data on you and they don’t afford it the right protection and that data falls into the wrong hands, then it becomes a threat to you" - perhaps taking a dig at the number of government data loss scandals of recent months.

Liberty, the civil rights group, has also said that it will mount a legal challenge if the government plans are pushed through.


>