Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

A senior Vodafone network architecture specialist has been appointed by Jacqui Smith to draw up proposals for a multibillion pound central silo of communications data, amid a Whitehall row about the future of the project, The Register has learned.

The Home Office team responsible for the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) have been told to make the case for the expansion of state surveillance it would involve again, according to insiders.

The plans were originally put forward by intelligence chiefs to “maintain capability” to intercept communications as use of internet-based technology – such as BT’s new 21CN backbone – grows. Opponents have labelled such claims the “keep running to stand still” strategy, a satirical reference to Alice Through the Looking Glass.

In response to the civil service controversy over IMP, Jacqui Smith announced in October that the Communications Data Bill – the legislation that would mandate the project – would not come before Parliament during the current session. It began on December 3 and runs until the end of October 2009. Instead she said there will be a public consultation beginning in January.

Sources said the several dozen officials working on IMP recently moved away from the “hot house” atmosphere surrounding it in the Home Office to occupy government offices at Great George Street (known as GOGGS), off Parliament Square. The Home Office also recently created a director-level position to take charge of the project and installed the Vodafone man.

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