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UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic 204

Posted by timothy
from the posted-before-curfew dept.
Jack Spine writes "The UK government, which is becoming increasingly Orwellian, has said that it is considering snooping on all social networking traffic including Facebook, MySpace, and bebo. This supposedly anti-terrorist measure may be proposed as part of the Intercept Modernisation Programme according to minister Vernon Coaker, and is exactly the sort of deep packet inspection web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned about last week. The measure would get around the inconvenience for the government of not being able to snoop on all UK web traffic."
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UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic

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  • Who cares (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:25PM (#27245931) Homepage

    It's social networking. The information is already public.
    It's like snooping data on the way to being published anyway.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:29PM (#27245983) Homepage Journal

    Hell, what if they just offered encryption? To be fair, it would cost facebook a not-inconsequential amount of CPU time (with repercussions for power consumption and heat production) to implement, even if they needed no additional hardware (heh heh)

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by D Ninja (825055) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:30PM (#27245997)

    Well, yeah, but no. What goes on Facebook is public, but the real problem here is the expansion of the government (in this case, the UK) into areas that they do not belong for reasons that are, arguably, pretty stupid.

    Additionally, some parts of Facebook are "private." IM conversations between friends, and the messages that pass between people on Facebook are two things I can think of. Those are not available to the general public (at least not via normal means).

    But, again, the growth of the government into citizens private lives is the more important issue. Aren't any of the UK citizens concerned?

  • not really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:33PM (#27246073)
    The information may be posted publicly but there is an expatiation of privacy, as evident by the filters that you can set up.
  • by B5_geek (638928) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:36PM (#27246127)

    Any form of communication might be used for nefarious purposes.
    touch, sight, taste, smell. These could all be used to transfer information. Unless you plug into our brains directly you might miss something. Just give up.

    Western society has forgotten what it means to stand up to oppressive leadership. We would rather stay comfortable and placated with our modern opiate.

    Break the chains that bind you. Turn off your TV's, read books they don't want you to read, think for yourself.

    One of the users on this board has a sig that is very significant:
    There are 4 boxes to be used in the defence of liberty: Soap, Jury, Ballot, and Ammo. Use in that order.

    I am a non-violent person (as are most of us). I believe more can be resolved with intelligent, logical discussion then could ever be resolved with violence, but I also believe that when the system is broken you cannot work within it.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:36PM (#27246135) Journal

    I care. I care because they're wasting my tax money in order to spy on me for no reason.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:41PM (#27246217) Homepage

    Yeah, I better clarify.
    I didn't for one moment want to downplay the threat of mass surveillance and totalitarianism in the UK right now.

    BUT, it's facebook. My expectation of privacy on the medium would be lower than unencrypted email.
    Which is already very low.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:44PM (#27246279) Journal

    Hell, what if they just offered encryption?

    What's the point of encrypting data that you are uploading to a social networking site for public consumption? And how effective would it really be at keeping the Government out anyway? What's to stop them getting a subpoena to pull the data directly off Facebook's servers?

  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:45PM (#27246285)
    The UK Police already routinely scan YouTube, MySpace, Bebo and Facebook for "criminal" activity.

    While Facebook stuff is already public, and you're utterly retarded if you post anything genuinely incriminating on it, there is still a danger -- now and in the future -- that the definition of "incriminating" may change.

    The way The People's Republic of (formerly Great) Britain is going, it's only a question of time before your opinions (such as mine expressed here) will get you a visit from the State Secret Police.

    Even if you are foolish enough to believe that Brown-shirt and his Jackboots, Smith and Straw, are not genuinely evil, the fact remains that the UK is now so controlled and monitored, that in the event of a dictator choosing to seize power, the UK population would be unable to fight back (the fact that much of the population is fat and drunk only helps the State cause).

    There absolutely must be politicians in the UK who realize that all they need to do is pull the draw-string and the country is sealed up, and at their total mercy. All the pieces of the puzzle are there. It could happen any day. It is already too late.
  • by causality (777677) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:51PM (#27246407)

    The U.K. snooping is probably going to be done with Facebook's support, knowledge, and help...

    Possibly. If not, it probably won't take much pressure to make them cave in. They'll be shamed into doing it by a claim that doing otherwise would be unpatriotic or would support the evil terrorists. Or they'll be threatened into doing it by a law that requires it, and won't have the courage to respond to that by refusing to service users in the UK. Some form of manipulative pressure will be used. Most people respond to pressure this way because it appears to relieve the pressure. What they don't know is that anytime you cave in to pressure, the relief is quite temporary -- by doing so, you teach others that this is the way to "reach" you and you invite more of the same. Bullies are cowards but they won't appear that way if you are even more cowardly than they are and are unwilling to take a risk to stand up to them.

    Incidentally, I salute the accuracy of the summary:

    The measure would get around the inconvenience for the government of not being able to snoop on all UK web traffic.

    If that doesn't describe the freedom-destroying mentality, few things can. It never seems to occur to that mentality that the loss of freedom and privacy might be just the sort of destruction that our enemies wish to visit upon us. It makes sense, since they know they stand no real chance of winning a conventional military battle against the very-well-armed Western nations. If they're "street-wise" at all, and to avoid hubris you should always assume that your enemy is, then they have probably realized that they only need to attack us a few times and we will do all of the rest of the work of destroying what is good about our civilization on our own. It will, of course, be in the name of safety and security. When all of this started, I bet the terrorists never imagined it would be so easy -- just scare us a bit and we'll give up all of the things that we used to fight for. This, by the way, is why physical armaments cannot be your only source of strength. If they are, your enemy will merely attack you on a different front. All of this is quite predictable and easy to understand.

    Perhaps the USA and the UK aren't so different after all.

  • Oh come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter_J_G (1503759) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @02:57PM (#27246517)
    Hitler stopped the German people from being able to protest with the Reichstag Decree - as no-one was able to protest, Hitler was able to build the worlds most brutal totalitarian state and invaded Poland in 1939, Britain and France declared war, a generation was devastated in the hope that future generations might live without tyranny. In 1945 the allies declared victory and said never again. To protect the world from war they had to protect the citizen from the state - in 1950 the leaders of the war torn countries of Europe came together to try to prevent these horrors from ever happening again, in comes the European convention of human rights authored by Winston Churchill, and contained the fundamental protections of an individual from their own government, including, ban on torture ,no detention without charge, innocence until proven guilty, right to privacy, right to protest and freedom of speech. We in the UK have became too cosy with the idea that we have these rights anymore. I often wonder when people will wake up and realize they have had their freedoms taken away. I wondered if it would happen when they gave taking pictures of police a maximum 10 year jail sentence - nope. I wondered if it would happen when they allowed records of phone calls, web history and emails to be for police - nope, I wondered if it would happen when someone was arrested under the anti-terror act for shouting "rubbish" at a New Labour party conference - nope. Wake up.
  • They'd have to go for hardware encryption/decryption.

    What kind of scale? I said offer it. It's not clear what percentage of facebook's membership would use https:/// [https] if they didn't offer any links and you had to alter the URL manually (oh, the humanity!) If their front-end servers had CPU to spare (e.g. the front-end was I/O bound) they might be able to serve the actual demand without any additional hardware.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:15PM (#27246809)

    And whose fault is that? The idiots in Government passing the stupid policies or the population that has allowed (even encouraged in some instances) them to do so?

    It is ultimately the people who are the problem. Not just those who voted Labour, but those who are police officers, civil servants, people who work in ISPs, those who sit and watch through security cameras, anyone involved with the E-Borders scheme, anyone in Customs and Excise, and many, many more.

    "befehl ist befehl" was proven not to be a defence at Nuremberg. Anyone co-operating with these totalitarian schemes is just guilty as the oppressors that are most surely coming, if not already here.

    It is too late. The E-Borders scheme controls entry and exits more surely than the Berlin Wall. The Security camera network means they know where you are while you are in the country. The internet monitoring means they watch what you are doing and know who your friends are, the phone call logging means they know what you are saying, the ability to detain you without charge for longer than anywhere only helps. The population is fat, drunk and broke, and ever more geared towards hating "immigrants", as today's BBC "have your say" only proves. The tripartite excuse of "terrorism", "paedophiles" and "knife crime" are perfect covers for any eventuality.

    What more does any dictator actually need? The tools are all there, cheerfully implemented by willing members of the population. These tools will eventually be used.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by D Ninja (825055) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:16PM (#27246829)

    -1 Troll

    I appreciated the poster's response, and I'm glad he cares about what his government is doing. The problem is, not enough people do care about things bigger than, "OMG!!!11! WHO'S WINNING AMERICAN IDOL!!11!!" There are so many more important things to be involved with in this world and the snarky kind of comment that you just made is not necessary, not appreciated, and pretty much shows what's wrong with the way our world is currently being run (where only a few people have power because everybody else says "I really can't do anything so why should I try?").

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:17PM (#27246839) Homepage Journal

    Content on Facebook (and any other social networking site with privacy controls) isn't for public consumption - it's for consumption by those whom you've marked as friends

    If it's shared among your 5,000 closest friends, I'd call that pretty public. :p

  • idiots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:17PM (#27246843)

    In other news, terrorist groups who aren't fucking morons have long since switched all their communication to encrypted e-mail.

    Seriously, Facebook?

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:26PM (#27246979) Homepage Journal
    "Or we'll go back to having pseudonyms and fake identities online and only our friends will know the truth."

    You mean you stopped doing this for some reason!?!?!?!

  • by causality (777677) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:46PM (#27247327)

    Perhaps the USA and the UK aren't so different after all.

    Well, it seems that our system has more checks and balances than the UK does. We have 50 individual sovereign states that are still willing to flip Washington off [cnet.com] every now and then. We have the Supreme Court which has shot down or at least severely constrained many attempts by the Executive and Legislature to violate our founding documents. The Upper House of our Legislature isn't toothless and actually has the power to stop legislation. We also (yeah I couldn't resist) have guns ;)

    I'm hard pressed to think of what checks and balances remain under the British system. The House of Lords was defanged a long time ago and if the Monarchy ever refused Royal Assent I'm sure that would be end of it as an institution. Hopefully our friends across the pond will wake up before it's too late.....

    Those checks and balances are largely useless if most of the population honestly believes in the "safety is more important than freedom" type of fear-mongering. Pragmatically, this means only that those who would like to transform the USA into a totalitarian state just need to be more patient. Or they just need to remain underground.

    What do I mean by underground? Look at how long the warrantless-wiretapping was going on, illegally, before it was exposed. Then look at how the Bush administration retroactively granted the telcos immunity from prosecution for assisting this illegal program (if that isn't a violation of "no ex post facto" then it should be). So, how many such illegal activities are happening right now that we don't know about?

    It might be tempting to look at the UK and think we're so much better off. That's your ego talking because it wants to feel like a part of something greater than itself, namely, the national ego. But let's say that you are correct, that the USA really is better off than the UK. We're certainly walking down the same path. So, perhaps the UK is a little ahead of us and has already travelled farther down that path. That means that If we don't change soon, the UK is merely providing a vision of our immediate future. How about if we travel a completely different path that doesn't lead to the same destination before we make comparisons? I prefer not to be on a sinking ship at all. I like that much better than wondering whether the ship I'm on is sinking more slowly than the adjacent ships.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by malkavian (9512) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:25PM (#27247905) Homepage

    There are two real options.
    One is you attempt to use force, and then get gunned down in a blaze of stupidity by the military protecting the politicians, and be branded a terrorist yourself, and have your ideals associated with extremism, and thus debunked before sane debate can start.
    Secondly, you pen a note to the representatives of your government expressing, as eloquently as you can, exactly why you think it's a terrible idea what they're doing.
    Then you pen the media with the same.
    And if you have a few spare minutes, you pen something to their opponents, explaining why this is a massively bad idea, and, if they've not already spotted it, how they can get a lot of political mileage out of stating a few points in plan simple English to the general electorate.
    In short, I don't know if I've made a difference. However, I've tried the sanest route I can think of, and try to enlighten as many minds as I can.
    If I made no difference.. Then so be it. Not everybody's a hero, and not everybody gets to save the world. However, the more people that try, the greater the chance will be that one of the multitude actually manages to do it.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @06:01PM (#27249175)

    I'm frequently amazed, however, at how little regard the average EU citizen has for recent history. Every time something like Al Quaeda comes along they try to send a diplomat to "work it out" and they come home like Chamberlain waving a piece paper and yell "Peace in our time!"

    Then Al Qaueda bombs one of their train stations.

    What's that about???

    Maybe we have more knowledge of recent history than you give us credit for. Chamberlain came back waving his "piece of paper" -- and promptly put the UK onto a war footing. He introduced conscription (first time we'd ever had that in peacetime) and massively ramped up military production. He sacrificed his career and reputation to buy the UK the time that it desperately needed, so we didn't enter the war until we were in a position to hold off the nazis. I reckon Chamberlain should be considered one of the great heroes of WWII. Were it not for his shrewdness and self-sacrifice we would have been under Nazi occupation before Churchill got a sniff at Number 10.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @06:55PM (#27249729)
    That's part of what I meant about him sacrificing his career and reputation. Those were the days when a politician might put the country before his career. Seems like another world, doesn't it?
  • by AGMW (594303) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @06:19AM (#27253535) Homepage
    Incitement to racial and religious hatred ...

    What I find puzzling and V. annoying is the UK Gov's apparent need to make so many new laws focusing on the minutae - Why not just "Incitement to hatred"? Why specifically racial and/or religious? Is it OK, then, to incite hated against women or even (think of the) children? Short or overly tall people, don'tcha just hate them eh? Ginger people, though god knows they've got it coming! Regional differences, 'cos those easy to get on with and otherwise outwardly pleasent West Country folk get my goat with there 'oh do stay for a cup of tea and some scones with cream and jam' - DON'T THEY KNOW I'VE GOT HIGH COLESTEROL! Sheeeez!

    Same with our driving laws where we have a specific law against driving whilst using a mobile 'phone - Why not just "Driving without due care and attention" - hey! That's already a law, so why the fuck not just enforce it!

    The current UK Gov are such a bunch of muppets, and I'm not sure the next bunch will be much better either! The problem is that the current breed of politicians don't seem to understand that their careers should mean nothing against the backdrop of doing the right thing, but it's all about sound bites and how to fool the population into voting for them again next time!

    Saddest of all, it would appear that mostly their muppetry seems to fool the population. I seriously worry about us here in the UK sometimes!

  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday March 19, 2009 @09:39AM (#27255639) Homepage Journal

    As all naysayers regarding civil liberty chant; "What good is your freedom if you're dead?" seems to be the prevailing wisdom in Europe. Can't fault them too much, poor bastards, they have a legacy of subservience, caving, and generally attempting to wheel and deal their way out of disaster.

    I'm frequently amazed, however, at how little regard the average EU citizen has for recent history. Every time something like Al Quaeda comes along they try to send a diplomat to "work it out" and they come home like Chamberlain waving a piece paper and yell "Peace in our time!"

    Then Al Qaueda bombs one of their train stations.

    What's that about???

    Motorists in Britain alone kill, every single year, more people than Al Quaeda have ever killed, world wide, in any single year. On the general scale of things, Al Quaeda are an incredibly minor threat. You are less likely to be killed by Al Quaeda than you are to be killed by falling down and bumping your head [guardian.co.uk].

    Yes, we are destroying all the things which made our civilisation worth living in, but we're not doing it because Al Quaeda are a serious threat. We're doing it because our politicians think they can get away with it. In the meantime, we only make Al Quaeda stronger by pandering to this ridiculous and disproportionate fear of them.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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