Whitehall in a tangle over technology

Sir David Omand, the former Whitehall security and intelligence co-ordinator, has published a new Institute for Public Policy research paper, a blueprint for the way the state will mine data. This will include travel information, phone records and emails held by public and private organisations.

In the paper he states, 'Finding out other people's secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules".

Quoted in The Guardian, he adds, 'Modern intelligence access will often involve intrusive methods of surveillance and investigation, accepting that, in some respects this may have to be at the expense of some aspects of privacy rights".

The newspaper says his document provides the most candid assessment yet of the scale of Whitehall's ambitions for a state database to track terrorist groups. It argues that while the measures are essential, public trust will be maintained only if such intrusive surveillance is carried out within a strong framework of morality and human rights.

A very tough sell indeed in a nation resolutely against ID cards.

Yesterday a gang of Nigerian internet hackers sent hundreds of emails to British Justice Minister Jack Straw's contacts, claiming he had lost his wallet while doing charity work in Africa and needed $3,000 (£2,000) to get home.

Hackers broke into Straw's Hotmail account, which Microsoft has suspended, not a ministerial system. He told his local newspaper, the Lancashire Telegraph, 'It was an issue for constituents, not the government. I'm assured there's no evidence that confidentiality of constituents was affected.'

It's not clear how mining personal information will prevent further hacking attacks on unwary ministers.