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UK Government To Monitor All Internet Use 446

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the foil-hats-aren't-going-to-cut-it dept.
nk497 writes "The UK government has further detailed plans to track all communications — mobile phone calls, text messages, email and browser sessions — in the fight against terrorism, pedophiles and organized crime. The government said it's not looking to see what you're saying, just to whom and when and how. Contrary to previous plans to keep it all in a massive database, it will now let ISPs and telecoms firms store the data themselves, and access it when it feels it needs it." And to clarify this, Barence writes "The UK Government has dropped plans to create a massive database of all internet communications, following stern criticism from privacy advocates. Instead the Government wants ISPs and mobile phone companies to retain details of mobile phone calls, emails and internet sites visited. As with the original scheme, the actual content of the phone calls and messages won't be recorded, just the dates, duration and location/IP address of messages sent. The security services would then have to apply to the ISP or telecoms company to have the data released. The new proposals would also require ISPs to retain details of communications that originated in other countries but passed over the UK's network, such as instant messages."
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UK Government To Monitor All Internet Use

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  • by notarockstar1979 (1521239) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:43AM (#27730973) Journal
    The UK is just putting together the biggest porn database in the history of the world to provide a search engine along with relevant advertising to bring in some extra cash.
  • Nothing can go wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...

  • 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tritonman (998572) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:43AM (#27730995)
    Ok I guess Orwell was about 25 years off
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Ok I guess Orwell was about 25 years off

      The irony is that it was written by a Brit.
           

      • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WindowlessView (703773) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:51AM (#27731139)

        The irony is that it was written by a Brit.

        I hope we can stay away from the temptations to localize this behavior to one country. Let's face it, it is going on pretty much everywhere now. It's just a matter of degree and how much information about it has been leaked out to the public.

      • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NetDanzr (619387) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:55AM (#27731203)
        Not all that ironic; he was in the best position to see where Britain was heading. Since then, many other British writers described the future Britain as fascist. All these people simply observed certain trends and extended them to their logical conclusion.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Tablizer (95088)

          What I don't get is why mostly conservatives support this kind of thing. They don't trust the gov't to monitor banks, to manage trade, to run healthcare, etc. YET they trust it to snoop fairly?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jgtg32a (1173373)
            conservatives != neocon
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Because what we call Conservatives is in reality an massive amount of people with differing views about things. Some are libertarians some are facist ... the conservative parties try to cater to all of them which creates these crazy policies and contradictions.
          • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by damburger (981828) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:23PM (#27731729)
            Conservatives are not supporters of freedom - its all a big lie. When they talk about 'freeing' the market they mean 'handing it over to their pals from Eton/business partners.' The debate over whether the state or 'private' enterprise should run things is completely irrelevant because, in the UK at least, the business and political elite are in collusion, and in many cases are the exact same people.
          • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:02PM (#27732393)
            What I don't get is why mostly conservatives support this kind of thing.

            It's because what they aim to conserve is all that is parochial, small-minded and nasty. The trouble is, Britain's Labour party used to have a policy of supporting social justice. Now that has been totally abandoned, and they are dominated by raving Thatcherites. No bloody wonder the actual "Conservative" party hasn't a clue what to do to regain power - their philosophy has been entirely subsumed by their opponents.
        • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

          Actually, the British writers seem to have only recently caught on. People from countries that are or have been under English rule have been aware the true character of Westminster governance for some time.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So now the only method of sending data without leaving a trace is the British Postal Service. Providing they don't loose you mail of course...

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:47AM (#27731057) Homepage Journal

    {sarcasm} It's cheaper to just waterboard the suspect rather than save all that data {/sarcasm}

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Laugh all you want but here in the US our Government can't compel us to turn over an encryption key and detain American citizens for 45 (or is it 90 now?) days without charges. And we still have our guns ;)

      • by neokushan (932374) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:02PM (#27731335)

        "And we still have our guns ;)"

        Yeah, how's that working out for you?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lwsimon (724555)

          Pretty well, actually.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yeah, how's that working out for you?

          It's working out great. Surprisingly, you can abuse your citizens to great length, so long as you leave their shiny gun toys to them, and they get keep that delusion that "if things really go bad, we're gonna revolt and overthrow the evil government". It's funny how the revolt never happens, but the theoretical possibility alone already keeps the steam vented off.

      • But once we've declared you an "enemy combatant"...
      • Laugh all you want but here in the US our Government can't compel us to turn over an encryption key and detain American citizens for 45 (or is it 90 now?)

        So what? 90% of what they want to know is who you communicate with and how often. Encryption won't help you much there.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:12PM (#27731523)

        Laugh all you want but here in the US our Government can't compel us to turn over an encryption key and detain American citizens for 45 (or is it 90 now?) days without charges.

        The US can't torture prisoners either. Oh wait...

        Your argument assumes the government is constrained by the laws it passes. Given that its happy to exceed those constraints at will, and is not held accountable even after the fact, even after a change in administration, its a pretty false sense of security.

        And we still have our guns ;)

        They will be worthless until the revolution comes. And even during a revolution you'll be relying on the military fragmenting (both to weaken the state and to arm your side). That will be far more important than your personal small arms. To put it bluntly, if the military doesn't fragment it won't be much of a revolution. (And you'll need to pray NATO/UN allies... etc, etc doesn't send additional forces to bolster the state side.)

        And if you pull that gun out by yourself before the revolution you are just a criminal shooting at the police. That will just compound your problems... and you won't get much public sympathy either.

        More false security.

  • Counterproductive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:47AM (#27731063) Homepage

    When will governments figure out that pushing big brother tactics on their constituents doesnt help them find the badguys in fact all it does is make the law abiding masses paranoid and pushes the ones they are after further underground into darknets, and other more nefarious methods.

    In the end the only thing this will be used for successfully is kowtowing to corporate interests and eroding the rights of citizens.

    • by lorenlal (164133)

      And that's different than everything else the UK and US governments do?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Calmaveth (1353713)
      Organized Criminals and terrorists will just start using payphones and traditional mail (post).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by characterZer0 (138196)

      In the end the only thing this will be used for successfully is kowtowing to corporate interests and eroding the rights of citizens.

      Kowtowing is the primary goal. Eroding rights makes it easier to kowtow later.

      Surely you do not think this was done for the benefit of the people?

      Oh, you did? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:00PM (#27731293) Journal
      None of that is "counterproductive", unfortunately. As a politician, you don't get graded on finding the bad guys. You get graded on looking like you are finding the bad guys. The more paranoid the masses are, the happier they will be to have you looking like you are finding the bad guys. The further underground the bad guys are, the greater the emergency powers you will need to go after them.

      If big brother tactics weren't pragmatically useful(albeit not for their stated purposes) they wouldn't be nearly so popular.
    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      doesnt help them find the badguys in fact all it does is make the law abiding masses paranoid

      Except that they will never find that out, because the masses don't care, and it doesn't matter if laws are effective or not.

      n the end the only thing this will be used for successfully is kowtowing to corporate interests and eroding the rights of citizens.

      Which is all that matters to them.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:17PM (#27731603)

      Where did you get the idea that this has anything to do with catching the bay guys? ^^
      And why do people always equate politicians not doing what you expected with them being stupid?
      I don't think they are stupid. It just looks that way, because their actions are so completely counterproductive of what they say are their goals.
      Well, every person that has lived trough the change in tone before and after an election, should know not to believe one word of that. ;)

      So... if they are lying, and if they are not stupid, then why do they do this?
      Simple: Everything people do, because someone has someone has something to gain from it.
      Find that one, and you got your reason.

      But I guess we all knew this before. :)

  • Encryption (Score:3, Informative)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:48AM (#27731071) Homepage Journal

    Problem ( mostly ) solved.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndrewNeo (979708)
      If they're telling the truth, and not monitoring the data itself, just the endpoints.. then what good does encrypting do?
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Which part of "We're not looking inside the packets*, just where they're going to" escaped you...?

      [*] Yet.

      If you want safety, add a bit of extra information to the JPG files on your innocent-looking blog.

  • V for Vendetta? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:49AM (#27731085) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, yeah. I've heard the movie and book don't mesh but the overall theme is still the same: Complete access to what anyone and everyone is doing, thinking or writing.

    On a related note, the following quote from Sneakers isn't too far off either:

    There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!

      How do you control information without bullets? "Hmm, I see you have some information there.... [cocks gun]" ;) Even in the movie the bad guys used guns....

      That's probably my favorite geek movie :)

  • by hemp (36945) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:49AM (#27731089) Homepage Journal

    Well, I am not going to feel safe until *everyone* is in jail. That is the only way to make sure there is not a criminal free somewheres.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Well, I am not going to feel safe until *everyone* is in jail.

      I agree. Let's start with every member of the British Parliament and American Congress. I could even make a think of the children [wikipedia.org] argument to justify it.

  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:50AM (#27731123)

    But in the most incompetent way possible. Letting the ISP's store the data? So you're telling me that tracking the communications of the worlds most dangerous terrorists is so incredibly important that it can potentially be left in the hands of a 20 year old intern charged with swapping the backups tapes? Hyperbole of course, but come on, if you (the UK gov) aren't storing the data, do you really know it will be available when you need it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo (196126)

      It's not at all clear how the system is going to work either. For example, if I send an email using an overseas SMTP server, will it be intercepted by my ISP? What if I use a secure SSL connection?

      The sad fact is that this kind of data is only useful for catching idiots who join the "Jihad against the UK" group on Facebook and spend all day watching Americans getting shot on YouTube. Security via things like Tor and anonymous email/IM is so easy now you can bet it's on page 1 of the Terrorist's/Paedophile's

  • by T Murphy (1054674)
    Example of an intercepted IM conversation:
    AC1: I'm thinking to get a new car next week
    AC2: Sweet, what colour are you getting?
    AC1: Dude? "colour"?
    AC2: I didn't put that 'u' there...
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tx (96709) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:51AM (#27731143) Journal

    I'm honestly sure who I trust less to securely maintain a database containing large amounts my of private data. The government have consistently proven themselves incapable of managing large scale IT projects, or of taking privacy seriously. On the other hand, I don't trust my ISP either - will they be prevented from outsourcing any part of the chain involved in collecting and storing this data, for example, or is my data going to be available for $1 in Delhi anytime soon? It's a lose-lose situation.

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:04PM (#27731375)

      I imagine the only way to end up with some privacy is to buy your MP's or PM's browsing history, and have The Daily Mail run it on page 1.

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      I love how they phrase it that the law will "let" ISPs store the data, too. They're passing a law that's going to make extensive long-term data storage mandatory, and it's the companies who get to pay for it. Isn't the government generous?
  • Tor recently recieved an accidental DDos
  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:54AM (#27731191)

    I no longer have any hope for Great Britain.

    The country that spawned the magna carta is on an irreversible spiral into a police state.

    They will continue to erode the rights of people in the name of "terrorism" and "child pornography."

    And the general populace seems happy to let it happen.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:01PM (#27731329) Journal

      And the Labour Party seems happy to let it happen.

      Fixed that for you. I know lots of people in the UK that are aghast at what's happening.

      • by JustNiz (692889)

        I agree. Loads of people in the UK are quietly sitting there agahast. Stiff upper lip and put up with it, its the British way.
        Not since the poll tax riots in the 80's has anyone actually got off their asses and done anything about even the worst atrocities by the gov on the people.
        I seriously can't imagine the people of absolutely any other country putting up with this crap.
        The real problem is not the government, who are politicians therefore by nature are all a bunch of powergrabbing self-serving sleezy ba

    • I don't think the British government is doing anything in the name of terrorism and child pornography. Well, okay, maybe terrorism...

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:55AM (#27731213) Journal

    Let's talk about IM. I run an XMPP server which a few of my friends use. Everyone that connects to it used TLS. If they did enough traffic analysis, they might just about be able to tell who I was talking to, but are they really expecting ISPs to correlate every packet anyone sends to that machine (which is not located on their network) and communicate this data to all other UK ISPs so that they can try to work out who I am talking to? And what happens when I talk to someone using a busy server like jabber.org or gmail.com? They see some encrypted packets going from my machine to that server (well, they don't, because my server is outside the UK, but let's pretend that they do). Then, a second or so later, they see a few million packets going out to various other people. Are they just expecting Google to turn over their logs, or do they expect the ISPs to magically work out who I am talking to be analysing every packet going everywhere?

    The same applies to email. My mail server is set up to use TLS, and so most of the time they can't do deep packet inspection to learn the destination, all they know is that my machine has delivered a mail to the recipient's mail server, and that a lot of people later on have checked their mail on that machine.

    It seems that this will only stop terrorists who are stupid enough to use their ISP's mail servers, which surely isn't a huge number.

  • We all love SPAM! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59AM (#27731275)
    If they keep a database of ALL email sent, it'll be interesting to see how many days it takes until their backup servers are overrun with billions of nigerian prince scams, fake virus alerts and phony offers to get free cash from Microsoft.
    • by hey (83763)

      Perhaps they only need to keep one copy of each mail and a list of who it went to.

      • on the sender side maybe, but it still lands on the inbox of every recipient, and all ISPs will be required to keep their own logs. I'm thinking here of the ISP IT guys having a discussion about their mail log server that will ressemble the Ghostbusters twinkie metaphor.
  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59AM (#27731281)

    Ok, someone out there needs to write a program that will randomally access web sites. It should contain a list of reprehensable sites, as well as use randomally generating site names. It should do accesses on some randomzed time schedule, not continuously. You don't want it to run often enough to significantly slow down your own browsing.

    This is how you poison their database, fill it full of useless data. Go ahead, and track this!

    • by fluffybacon (696495) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:58PM (#27732317) Homepage Journal
      Looks like that's already underway

      Paranoid Linux is an operating system that assumes that its operator is under assault from the government (it was intended for use by Chinese and Syrian dissidents), and it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret. It even throws up a bunch of "chaff" communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert. So while you're receiving a political message one character at a time, ParanoidLinux is pretending to surf the Web and fill in questionnaires and flirt in chat-rooms. Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack.

  • >> Contrary to previous plans to keep it all in a massive database, it will now let ISPs and telecoms firms store the data themselves, and access it when it feels it needs it."

    Likely the only reason for this decision is that the government have probably just realised how much hardware and infrastructure they would need to buy in order to store, maintain and efficiently search all that info themselves. Consequently they have just pushed it off onto the ISPs/telcos instead.

    It also gives a very transluce

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:05PM (#27731407)

    It's recently been made illegal to photograph the police in the UK because the pictures might be useful to terrorists - it doesn't matter if you intend to use such pictures for terrorism, only that a terrorist might possibly want to have one of the pictures.

    This new law has predictably led to such Kafkaesque situations like this story [wordpress.com] as reported by an actual constable there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      So now terrorists are following tourists who take pictures of those "bobbies on bicycles, two by two" and stealing the images right out of their cameras? Why bother? Just cut the middleman and pose as a tourist yourself. And since the police presumably wear uniforms and are thus identifiable even without photos, what's the benefit?

      The only benefit I can see is to police who are acting outside the law and don't want any evidence recording that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vittal (52825)

      Actually, its not illegal to photograph the police - only if its provably of use to terrorists (or whatever is no longer flavour of the month for our esteemed Home Secretary). However, in typical British fashion, nobody is entirely sure of what is allowed/not-allowed, and that includes many officers on the beat.

      The British Journal of Photography (http://www.bjp-online.com/ - just search for police on there) is littered with cases where overzealous officers have declared taking pictures of such-and-such an o

  • If everyone started connecting to many other random other services on the network all the time, you could effectively hide in the crowds. Just make sure that the connections last long enough to be meaningful. Something like a web spider that constantly probes at a specific data rate. Throw in some sophistication with regards to data transfer, repition of connnections, etc and you may be able to hide. Also, if enough people do it, it will cost the ISP much to store the information and make it irrelivant.

  • People have been complaining to England about human rights and liberties for hundreds and hundreds of years and they have a track record that shows they simply don't care.

    Has all of their "big brother" work been effective though?

    If people who wish to argue against these measures want to prevent or change where things are going, perhaps a new argument is in order. "It won't work" and "it doesn't work!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#27731537)

    Jacqui 'Jackboots' Smith is definitely a Nazi. This moron is one of the most stupid, ignorant, and illiberal people ever to assume power in the UK (with a feeble minority, it has to be said)
    New Labour have done more to dismantle the fundamental fabric of British society than any previous regime. Even the Tories under Maggie 'Madcap-Psychobitch' Thatcher never did such damage to people's fundamental rights (although she was probably more evil in other ways)

    What does it mean to be British?:
    - The right not to have to carry papers or ID cards
    - The right to privacy, and to know that it is illegal for the state to spy on me.
    - The right to protest anywhere I like, without being confined to a police cordoned area to keep me away from the war criminals and terrorists who are running this country.
    - The right not to be beaten to death by the police.
    - The right to be able to venomously criticise all religions, without them being granted 'special rights', just because certain religions (islam, and judaism) seem to be particularly prone to particularly psychotic levels of violence, and can't accept that their behaviour and beliefs should be scrutinised by sane people.
    - The right to access to good public services, unpolluted by private sector profiteers, greedy lobbyists, and corrupt public private partnerships.

    New Labour have taken all of these rights, and are consequently anti-British Enemies of The People, who have granted victory to terrorists worldwide, by curtailing the rights of our people in the name of 'fighting terrorism'.
    I suspect that their attack on our rights, in reality, has much more to do with protecting the status-quo, as any terrorist can just mow down a busy street in a stolen car, if they really want to kill, without resorting to elaborate bomb plots, or mixing chemicals in the basement.
    Fortunately for us, most terrorists are nearly as stupid as New Labour (they'd have to be, to be infected with religion!)

  • I Love the British government, you guys are awesome.... No, really, I do!
  • by o'reor (581921)

    "Her views were echoed by Sir Stephen Lander, the chair of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). "

    Oh, it must be serious then.

    Why, I thought her views would only be echoed by Mr. William Jones, chairman of the "Disorderly Conducts & Petty Theft Agency"

    Or maybe the "Drunkards Peeing Anywhere Watch Committee".

    Or, who knows, that renowned subcommittee of PETA, the "Vigilante Agency Against Backwards Cat Petting"

    Seriously, now. What's wrong people these days ?
    I think we need a modern version of th

  • Moore's Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PMuse (320639) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:49PM (#27732171)

    The government said it's not looking to see what you're saying, just to whom and when and how.

    There is only one reason that a government who spies on you only spies on you a little: it's not cheap enough yet to spy on you a lot.

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