Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Government plans travel database

Heathrow Terminal 5
Similar schemes run in the US, Spain and Canada

The government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons.

Computerised records of all 250 million journeys made by individuals in and out of the UK each year will be kept for up to 10 years.

The government says the database is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism.

But opposition MPs and privacy campaigners fear it is a significant step towards a surveillance society.

The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers.

Big Brother

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "The government seems to be building databases to track more and more of our lives.

"The justification is always about security or personal protection. But the truth is that we have a government that just can't be trusted over these highly sensitive issues. We must not allow ourselves to become a Big Brother society."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "This is another example of an intrusive database without any public debate about safeguards on its use.

"We are sleepwalking into a surveillance state and should remember that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint."

A spokesman for campaign group NO2ID said: "When your travel plans, who you are travelling with, where you are going to and when are being recorded you have to ask yourself just how free is this country?"

The e-Borders scheme covers flights, ferries and rail journeys and the Home Office says similar schemes run in other countries including the US, Canada, Spain and Australia.

Minister of State for borders and immigration Phil Woolas said the government was determined to ensure the UK's border remained one of the toughest in the world.

"Our hi-tech electronic borders system will allow us to count all passengers in and out of the UK and [it] targets those who aren't willing to play by our rules," he said.

"Already e-Borders has screened over 75 million passengers against immigration, customs and police watch-lists, leading to over 2,700 arrests for crimes such as murder, rape and assault."



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