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Mobile phone usage to be monitored nationwide


The controversial Data Communications Bill is to be introduced in the Queen`s Speech at Christmas. Under the terms of the Bill, the UK government would be able to monitor mobile phone and email activity amongst the general public.

A single database would be created to store all the information. Ministers would be able to see phone numbers dialled and email addresses that had received messages. This would be the case both for landline and mobile phones, and for computer-based email and mobile email. The contents of calls and emails would not be accessible.

The concept of such a database has been widely labelled a "Big Brother" intrusion. The government claims the database will help identify potential terrorists, but the terrorism watchdog spoke out last week to disagree.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, is the UK`s independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws. He told The Independent that the "raw idea" of the database "awful", and said there needed to be measures to stop government agencies abusing the data.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, commented: "This is another example of the Government`s obsession with gathering as much information on each of us as possible in case it might prove useful in the future. Like the discredited ID card scheme this will have a massive impact on our privacy but will do nothing to make us safer."

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is expected to announce the government`s intention to proceed with the Data Communications Bill in order to collect more details about people`s mobile phone and mobile email usage.


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