Cameron's links to phone-hacking scandal make his position untenable

Wed, Jul 20, 2011, 01:00

A more detailed than usual timeline of the British hacking scandal

Early 2000

Journalists at the News of the Worldrealise anyone can dial unsecured voicemails.

June 2000

Tony Blair agrees to an expansion of the Echelon intelligence system, enabling it to intercept every phone call, e-mail and digital signal on earth.

July 2000

Parliament passes New Labour’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which outlaws phone-hacking by journalists but allows most public bodies to spy on citizens without a warrant. Permitted methods include e-mail, internet and telephone tapping, bugging houses and cars and using “covert human intelligence sources”.

March 2002

An academic study estimates the number of CCTV cameras in Britain at 4.2 million, all basically unregulated. Police later dismiss this as inaccurate and put the true figure at a mere 1.9 million.

October 2002

New Labour commissions Connecting for Health, a computer system storing everyone’s medical records and making them accessible to 1.4 million NHS staff. Following privacy complaints, patients are allowed to opt out by calling their GP and explaining what they think they have to hide.

November 2003

Parliament passes New Labour’s Criminal Justice Act, allowing the police to store the DNA of anyone arrested in England and Wales, whether or not they are charged. Entries to the database, already the largest in the world, rise to 30,000 a month.

March 2005

New Labour approves a national number-plate recognition system using 2,000 computer-linked cameras to record 100 million vehicle movements a day. The database is unregulated and available to police and the intelligence services.

March 2006

Parliament passes New Labour’s Identity Cards Act, introducing compulsory biometric cards plus a national identity database storing 50 pieces of information on every UK citizen. The data is accessible to 265 government departments and 48,000 private sector organisations.

July 2006

The Home Office admits the police DNA database, now holding three million samples, has been used for 20 academic studies into criminal and racial profiling and that the private firm analysing the samples has secretly kept copies.

August 2006

Councils across England admit installing 500,000 electronic monitoring devices in wheelie bins without householders’ knowledge.

November 2006

New Labour unveils the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will store background information on all 11.3 million adults who have contact with children, including lifestyle issues and unproven allegations.

April 2008

The BBC runs a TV licensing ad with the slogan “Your town, your street, your home. It’s all in the database.” After numerous complaints, it changes the slogan slightly and runs the ad again.

January 2009

New Labour launches ContactPoint, a child protection database covering every under-18 in England and Wales and accessible to one million officials including police. Due to privacy concerns, politicians’ children are exempted.

April 2009

New Labour signs a statutory instrument requiring everyone’s internet records to be stored for a year and made available to “designated authorities”.

Late 2010

The new Tory-led government cancels ID cards, scales back Connecting for Health, reforms the Independent Safeguarding Authority, regulates CCTV and number-plate recognition, deletes the ContactPoint and national identity databases and stops police storing innocent people’s DNA. But David Cameron once hired a journalist from the News of the World – clearly he must go.