Criticism of government plans for travel database

The Conservative party have attacked government plans for a database of Britons’ international travel records.

The e-Borders scheme would involve computerised records of the 250 million journeys made in and out of the UK each year, with the data saved for up to ten years.

But while the Home Office says the database – similar to those used in the US, Canada and Australia – is an essential tool in the fight against illegal immigration and terrorism, opponents have labelled it a move towards “a Big Brother society”.

“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?” asked a spokesman for campaign group NO2ID.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said the plans were part of an apparent governmental effort to “track more and more of our lives”.

“The justification is always about security or personal protection,” he went on.

“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.”

Travellers’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, travel itineraries and credit card details will be kept on the database, which is intended to tighten the UK’s border controls.

“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,” said minister of state for borders and immigration Phil Woolas.

“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.”