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The Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) is a UK government initiative to extend the government's capabilities for intercepting and storing communications data. It has been widely reported that the IMP's eventual goal is to store details of all UK communications data in a central database.[1]

In 2008 plans were being made to collect data on all phone calls, emails, chatroom discussions and web-browsing habits as part of the IMP, thought likely to require the insertion of 'thousands' of black box probes into the country’s computer and telephone networks.[2] The proposals were expected to be included in the Communications Data Bill. The "giant database" would include telephone numbers dialed, the websites visited and addresses to which e-mails are sent "but not the content of e-mails or telephone conversations."[3] Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Home affairs spokesman said: "The government's Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying."[4]

The Home Office has denied reports that a prototype of the IMP had already been built.[5]

Reports in April 2009 suggest that the government has changed its public stance to one of using legal meaasures to compel communications providers to store the data themselves, and making it available for government to access, with the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith stating that "there are absolutely no plans for a single central store."[6]

The new plans are thought to involve spending £2bn on paying ISPs to install deep packet inspection equipment within their own networks, and obliging them to perform the cross-correlation and profiling of their users' behaviour themselves [7], in effect achieving the original goals of the IMP by different means.

A detailed analysis was published by the Policy Engagement Network of the London School of Economics [8] on 16 June 2009. The All Party Privacy Group held a hearing on IMP in the House of Commons on 1 July 2009.[9]

The proposal is similar to the NSA Call Database established by GCHQ's American counterpart NSA and the Titan traffic database established by the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment.

See also


  1. ^ Spy chiefs plot £12bn IT spree for comms überdatabase
  2. ^ "There’s no hiding place as spy HQ plans to see all". The Sunday Times (London). October 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.  
  3. ^ "Concern over giant database idea". BBC. October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-15. "The government's terror watchdog has expressed concern about proposals for a giant database to store details of all phone calls, e-mails and internet use."  
  4. ^ "Giant database plan 'Orwellian'". BBC. October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-17. "Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "The government's Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying." "I hope that this consultation is not just a sham exercise to soft-soap an unsuspecting public.""  
  5. ^ Home Office denies prototype intercept database
  6. ^ Ian Dunt (Monday, 27, Apr 2009). "Home Office rules out telephone surveillance database".$1291053.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-27.  
  7. ^ to spend £2bn on ISP tracking
  8. ^ LSE IMP Briefing
  9. ^ APPG IMP Hearing Agenda 1 July 2009

External links



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