Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government Security The Internet News

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic

Comments Filter:
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:25PM (#27245919) Homepage Journal

    What if Facebook and other sites enforced encryption? Sure, it would slow things down and increase their cost, but if they did, it would be "chic" to encrypt, and a generation of users would start demanding end-to-end encryption everywhere.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      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)

      • They'd have to go for hardware encryption/decryption.

         

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          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 w0mprat (1317953)
          CPUs are now good enough for encryption, a few cores gives you hundreds of mb/s on AES for example. It's not as simple as that, with the added overheads on a server, but in outright costs it's not that huge.
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:44PM (#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 Firehed (942385) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:50PM (#27246389) Homepage

          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.

          Encryption would prevent packet sniffing, and as Facebook is owned and operated in the US, I don't see how the UK government could subpoena the data successfully*. That whole jurisdiction thing - ya know.

          *Unless they have servers located in the UK. With 200m or so users, they probably do Of course, Facebook could just threaten to block UK users, posting the contact info of various government officials so you can complain to them for forcing FB into such a situation. Facebook is easily large enough for that kind of stunt to actually work.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:10PM (#27246711)

            Content on Facebook (and any other social networking site with privacy controls) isn't for public consumption

            At a job interview (relatively high clearance required) my potential employer presented me with, among other things, questions about blog posts I had written. The odd thing? I never mentioned the account and I had never published any articles from it. They were just sitting on a well-known company's server in draft mode.

            People have no idea how much is being collected and how many companies have been compromised, knowingly or not.

            • by jonfr (888673)

              People have no idea, because the government wants to keep them in the dark. If the public found out, we would have riot on a new scale.

            • by 7-Vodka (195504)

              How was your name linked to these?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Cro Magnon (467622)

            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

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

              5,000 closest friends? Even if I included all of my friends and acquaintences, and maybe also all of my enemies, I still might not reach 5,000. And I've lived in numerous locations on both sides of the Atlantic in the last 5 decades.

          • *Unless they have servers located in the UK. With 200m or so users, they probably do

            An increasing number of companies in Europe are explicitly requiring all the personal information they hold also to be hosted within Europe, to be sure they comply with data protection legislation. They're screwed if the hosting government decide to be abusive, but at least this way they're covered against claims they allowed other governments (such as the US, where privacy and data protection laws seem to be even looser than they are here) to be abusive.

      • by cdhgee (620445) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:39PM (#27247197)
        Facebook already does offer encryption - https://www.facebook.com/ [facebook.com]. Sure, not everything works 100% perfectly, and it sometimes reverts to plain http, but with the use of enforced https through NoScript in Firefox, 98% of the stuff on Facebook can be made to work reliably over HTTPS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rm999 (775449)

      "Sure, it would slow things down and increase their cost, but if they did, it would be "chic" to encrypt"

      From what I can tell, kids hate pretty much every change facebook ever makes. Sure, it's uncool to not use facebook nowadays, but loving everything about facebook is probably even less cool. Everyone knows it's a site run by suits.

    • I swear I thought the idea of these sites was to have your info publicly available so you could amass more and more online "friends." After all, isn't that the most important thing for teens, to be "popular?"

      I really don't see how encryption could do anything but hurt a social networking site.

    • Facebook is not there as a charity. They are there to make money, and they do that by tracking, recording, and analyzing everything you do on their website. Encryption on Facebook would destroy their ability to do that, or at least significantly weaken it, so they will never offer it.
    • by lawaetf1 (613291)

      It's bad enough that facebook results in more lost productivity than hangovers and the flu combined.. and the hundreds of megawatt hours of juice they burn. Lets not ADD to their leaching of vitality from the human race and the planet by burning more power to AES:

      "Snooky Socks wrote on your wall: "lolz, last night was sooo fun! Check out this pic of Jeremy dancing with Jenn!!!11 :)"

      Really.. encryption tools are plentiful and free for anyone that is planning an insurrection.

  • stupid (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Besides being intrusive its not going to be very useful. I mean, how many terrorists are going to schedule their next bombing as a Facebook event and then say this is an open even you can also invite friends.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:31PM (#27246011)

    Terrorists? On MySpace? What, are they going to attack the train stations in their horned-rim glasses, striped shirts, excessive mascara, and tight girl pants? Unless they have the Perspective Gun (HHGTTG) that won't do a lot of damage. Really, even if they have razorblades they're just going to use them on themselves.

    And Facebook. I can see it now...
    11:15am - Jihad has been called! We are all so very excited, yes-m.
    11:27am - is feeling very blue (they left to go get mcdonald's without me)
    11:52am - Achmed didn't bring all the parts to build the bomb. We're watching House instead
    12:56pm - Cutty really is a bitch! We must issue fatwa on her.
    02:45pm - took nap. Unemployment called, they say I get free dollars. woo woo!
    05:17pm - Achmed returns with rest of parts to build bomb, but comcast triple play package more fun
    08:59pm - Got call from head of cell. Wants to know about bomb. What bomb? We lost bomb.
    11:36pm - Go to bed. Really loving these american TV dinners.

    Or not. Seriously -- we're just going to encrypt the crap out of everything in a few more years anyway, and the UK and other governments and piss off. Or we'll go back to having pseudonyms and fake identities online and only our friends will know the truth. *shrug* Terrorists... christ. I wish they would come and blow something up, just so we had the reminder they weren't entirely a figment of our imagination. In another 10 years, nobody will believe 09/11 happened because of all this screaming by politicians about 'teh terrorists' will have gotten so old people will start subconsciously rejecting anything to do with it.

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:36PM (#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.

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      We would rather stay comfortable and placated with our modern opiate.

      Says the person posting on /.

      Yeah, I agree with what you said, but it just had to be pointed out ;)

    • Any form of communication might be used for nefarious purposes. touch, sight, taste, smell.

      What does "bomb X tomorrow?" taste like?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's tragic is that people like you are laughed at where I live.

      "You're saying we don't live in a free society? That's ridiculous!"

      But it's not a ridiculous statement at all. The past 15 years has taken both the US and the EU much closer to totalitarian superpowers run by an elite of politicians rather than by the people.

      People don't want this kind of monitoring everywhere, it's an agenda pushed by the ruling elite (which shouldn't even be "ruling" in the first place). Of course, saying this to any averag

    • by joh (27088)

      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.

      Yeah, quite a while ago someone said we were in a time where it's too late to work from within the system but too early to just shoot the bastards. I fear we have moved on a bit since then.

  • Just be honest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kellyb9 (954229) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:36PM (#27246129)
    Why won't the government just come out and say - "We want to see your private data"? I mean seriously, they're going to monitor traffic to stop terrorism. Maybe if they were this upfront about their operations, I can actually respect the fact that they were honest, but they actually think we're stupid enough to believe Al Queda has a Facebook group? WOW.
  • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:38PM (#27246167)
    ...I didn't mean to imply that the food I had during my recent visit to your country was really that bland. :P
  • I say, (Score:2, Funny)

    by Todd Fisher (680265)
    It appears Reginald Thornwallop hurled a goat at young master Convington. Alert the Queen at once!
  • 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 Sec
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      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

      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?

      • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:15PM (#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.

  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:51PM (#27246415) Journal

    At 15:43 terror suspect Lishmaki Alibababran tweeted "Whazup man?" to Obama Balali who proceeded to set his status to "Obama is watching 'UK today'. We believe this is part of a terrorist plot to stay informed about domestic and world news. Furthermore we may be able to use TV licensing laws against Obama as we have no record of him owning a TV license. This is further proof that piracy aids terrorism. In other news Beth Smith sent a private facebook message to Sally Tallman about Bill Wade that said: "He's soooooo hot". Sally was not impressed and replied "Stay away biatch, he's mine". Our operatives believe this may lead to violence and much bitchslapping at the Trinity school for girls on Monday morning and recommends that we send in a team of operatives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by genner (694963)

      At 15:43 terror suspect Lishmaki Alibababran tweeted "Whazup man?" to Obama Balali who proceeded to set his status to "Obama is watching 'UK today'. We believe this is part of a terrorist plot to stay informed about domestic and world news. Furthermore we may be able to use TV licensing laws against Obama as we have no record of him owning a TV license. This is further proof that piracy aids terrorism. In other news Beth Smith sent a private facebook message to Sally Tallman about Bill Wade that said: "He's soooooo hot". Sally was not impressed and replied "Stay away biatch, he's mine". Our operatives believe this may lead to violence and much bitchslapping at the Trinity school for girls on Monday morning and recommends that we send in a team of operatives.

      Sally is a lieing tramp.
      Beth would never cheat on me.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      recommends that we send in a team of operatives.

      Repeat: This is a purely observational mission. Do not intervene unless targets spot the multi-spectral cameras.

  • Oh come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter_J_G (1503759) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:57PM (#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.
    • How do you wake a human up?
    • So...you won't be doing any of the fighting, then? You'll be leaving it to others to take bullets for your freedom, and you'll support them with PayPal donations and strongly-worded messages of support on slashdot.

      PS you Godwinned yourself

  • idiots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

    Seriously, Facebook?

  • I though all the terrorists were hiding in the high-traffic (pr0n) Usenet newsgroups. I'm soooo out of touch.
  • I've been watching these developments in UK for the last few years, and I still wonder how long British citizens are going to stand for such brazenly proposed invasions of their privacy. What kind of loons come up with this stuff? What terrorists are using Facebook to openly plan their attacks?
    • IMHO, what is needed is a revolution, as voting isn't helping (see Obama, so much about "change") at all nowadays. The brit gov is screwing their people for so long now and nothing happened...
    • That's one of the reason I'm tagging ALL of the stories about the UK with

      "crazykingdom"

      Because I've read not a single post on /. that did not report on sheer lunacy and absolute mayhem thriving in the kingdom of the mentally insane.

      And it's not just /., but all news site I ever read in several months, yes, this includes those of British newspapers. Great Britain is either on the brink of self-destruction or only n weeks before revolution, I don't know yet.

  • If the government wants to snoop Facebook, the pure volume of communications means they'll have to use some kind of filtering process. Take a page from the spammers' book. If enough people lard their communications with UK relatives and e-friends with buzzwords like "bomb" and "nuclear" and "nitrate", the cost to go through them and decide that they're all crap would be huge.

    Time to have some fun, and invite these fascist pricks to honk on BoBo.

  • As government jobs which don't require being shot at or handling NBC waste go, the job of Facebook snoop is pretty lousy. Most of it is content-free chatter, but at least it's chatter by people you know. Having to monitor the content-free chatter of tons of strangers must be incredibly mind-numbing.

  • Orwell was distinctly against this kind of activity.

    What I think you mean is Stalinist.

  • Either that or they're starting to post some wildly misleading info on their Facebook and other social networking site pages.

    I remember around late 2001 or 2002, it was reported that "the terrorists" were using porn chatrooms to communicate, at least until that news was reported to the press, then they moved on to some other clandestine way to communicate.

    With all the web forums, Usenet, email IRC and other Internet traffic, the government really will have to snoop everything to track terrorists.

  • for what reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Disco Hips (920480)
    Honestly, what kinds of hot (political) info would someone expect to find on Facebook? Is it because it's popular? Hence it must be monitored? Here's a clue to the UK government: don't trust the banks, don't go to war on flimsy excuses, don't spy on your electorate. How's about money saved by avoiding the above on: better investment in UK business, better investment in healthcare, better investment in, err, the UK.
  • The UK government, which is becoming increasingly Orwellian...

    We need a new mod category: "understatement." I'm thinking more and more that Orwell was an optimist...

    • by cheros (223479)

      Orwell's approach took too much manpower (in principle you still need to trust a few people to do the monitoring).

      What the UK Government is doing is imprisonment of innocent people: it is creating a Panopticon [wikipedia.org] out of a whole country.

      The signs are all there:

      - continuous, seemingly unbroken coverage of the people watching you (the idea is to make you feel you're always being watched)
      - penalties of minor infringements (also easier than solve the odd murder*)
      - pretty much random justice ("We're the state, we ha

  • Solution: https//facebook.com
  • by master_p (608214) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @05:05AM (#27252895)

    Oh, terrorists love Facebook so much! they always announce their plans in Facebook, in order to have their friends comment on them.

    The terrorists also put the pictures of the terror act (you know, big-a$$ explosions and sh1t) on Facebook.

    Someone in the UK gov has become paranoid...

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

Working...