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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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  • 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tritonman (998572) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:43AM (#27730995)
    Ok I guess Orwell was about 25 years off
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:47AM (#27731049)

    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}

  • Counterproductive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@NOSpam.kc.rr.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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:50AM (#27731103)
    It's not clear if the government is planning to legislate to force ISPs and phone companies to keep this data, or if they just 'advise'.

    If the latter, then I imagine there'll be the few ISPs that stand up and say "no" and market themselves on that very fact.
  • 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?

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:51AM (#27731129) Journal

    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 ;)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:Encryption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:55AM (#27731205) Homepage
    If they're telling the truth, and not monitoring the data itself, just the endpoints.. then what good does encrypting do?
  • by Calmaveth (1353713) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:58AM (#27731259)
    Organized Criminals and terrorists will just start using payphones and traditional mail (post).
  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:58AM (#27731271)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59AM (#27731285)

    If the UK evicted its Muslim immigrants, and gave up trying to occupy Northern Ireland, wouldn't that lower the threat level enough for these measures to be easily repealed?

    Because evicting an ethnic slice of the population is not likely to cause civil unrest...

  • 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.
  • Re:1984 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:01PM (#27731319)

    Poor Orwell he must be turning in his grave. This reminds me I read V for Vendetta again.

  • Re:1984 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:01PM (#27731327) Homepage Journal

    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?

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

    "And we still have our guns ;)"

    Yeah, how's that working out for you?

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:03PM (#27731371) Journal

    And Americans stocking up on guns and ammo:

    That would end if people didn't believe that Obama and the Democratic leadership were itching to infringe on their 2nd amendment rights. Most sportsman are extremely annoyed by the run on ammo and firearms because it's driving up prices for everybody -- but it isn't going to end until some sanity comes out of Washington.

  • 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 Teun (17872) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:06PM (#27731425) Homepage
    I feel you are so deluded that your question is serious.

    First Northern Ireland, a majority of the population wants the be part of the UK a plebiscite could be held and nothing changes.

    Second, why in the world would you think evicting British Muslims would stop religious fanatics to continue spreading their terror in Europe (yes the UK is part of Europe)?

    With such a thought pattern I'm surprised you managed to log on.

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:09PM (#27731457)
    If the UK evicted its Muslim immigrants, and gave up trying to occupy Northern Ireland, wouldn't that lower the threat level enough for these measures to be easily repealed?

    No. First, the Muslim terrorists we've had problems with mostly weren't immigrants, they were born in Britain. Second, the north of Ireland isn't a significant terrorist threat any more, since most of the terrorists are now in the regional government; a couple of splinter factions have taken to shooting people again lately, but for practical purposes they're almost beneath contempt. Third, if you think for one moment this is really about terrorism then I've got a tower in Paris to sell you.

  • 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.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deletedNO@SPAMslashdot.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. :)

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:22PM (#27731711) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Whammy666 (589169) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:22PM (#27731717) Homepage
    I agree. The only reason they are not storing the content now is technological limitations. Once that barrier is removed, they will certainly take the next step.

    Wholesale surveillance is not limited by good will, it's limited by technology.
  • 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.
  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:30PM (#27731841) Homepage

    And you think group foo won't violently resist such a thing? And make the problem far far worse. And won't it make it very dangerous for British tourists to travel just about anywhere where members of group foo may live?

  • by pisto_grih (1165105) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:33PM (#27731905)

    ...but I can't think of a single major breakthrough that led to all of the rest.

    The election of Tony Blair as Prime Minister and the rise of New Labour, 1997.

  • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:48PM (#27732151) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onedotzero (926558) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:50PM (#27732199) Homepage
    If they're doing what? I'm not sure I follow...
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:53PM (#27732237)
    ...it will now let ISPs and telecoms firms store the data themselves, and access it when it feels it needs it.

    Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou sir, you are too kind, your generosity overwhelms me. Would you like to lash me with that nice whip you have there?
  • by chaynlynk (1523701) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:59PM (#27732331)
    I'm wondering what the implications are for private T1 lines. My company has a pipe from the US to the UK. Would those communications be logged also, or are they just talking about the usual ISP stuff, like cable, DSL, dial-up, etc? What about satellite based internet service? What about VPN tunneling? Would they require access to that communication level as well?
  • 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.
  • by mangu (126918) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:25PM (#27732767)

    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?

    It seems to me that the best government should be the smallest *practical* size. Having no government at all wouldn't work, it would be jungle law.

    We don't need the government to monitor banks, manage trade, run healthcare, etc, because those tasks can be performed by private institutions regulated by market forces. What the government needs to do is to set the smallest possible set of rules to ensure that no distortions will arise in the market.

    The question of how this system is working is debatable, I admit. Current regulations today are completely unbalanced. Healthcare in the US, for instance, has been a victim of runaway medical malpractice suits. In order to avoid liability, doctors order so many unneeded tests that healthcare costs have run out of control. Or take the electrical power system. In several places they deregulated the quality of service, but kept prices regulated, guess what happened to the resulting quality?

    Now, OTOH, justice and police work is something that cannot be privatized. You can privatize security services, you can privatize jail administration, but you cannot privatize courts or police investigation. It's not possible to have judges bidding among themselves for presiding lawsuits. It's not possible to have detectives bidding among themselves to investigate murders.

    In conclusion, I think the government is more justified in trying to seek more power to perform criminal investigations than to seek more power to control the market.

    This political position might be called "conservative" in the US and UK and "liberal" everywhere else, but it must be understood that, like any political position, it should be tempered with caution. I do not want to concede absolute power to the government in crime fighting just as I do not want to take away all the power the government has to regulate the private corporations. But I think the main reason for the existence of the government is to make sure justice is applied correctly, not to replace market forces.

  • by Rhapsody Scarlet (1139063) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:42PM (#27733011) Homepage

    You have a short memory. I was living in England at the peak (or nadir) of Thatcher's reign, and she had everything well set on its present course.

    I think his point was that even during the Thatcher years, you at least had Labour as an alternative. But when Tony Blair took control of the Labour party and sent it down it current Thatherite course, British politics effectively became varying shades of conservatism.

  • Re:1984 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Caledfwlch (1434813) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:45PM (#27733057)
    Agreed, it's not just the UK, as we've recently seen what the Australians are planning and the Americans, Chinese, and probably others, already have in use.
  • by iiiears (987462) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:50PM (#27734165) Journal

    Why isn't the internet considered another form of speech?

      Regulation slows innovation and usually creates as many problems as it solves.

  • by Whiternoise (1408981) on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:00PM (#27734325)
    I just find it amusing that they claim they're not interested in what we're looking at, just the start and end points of the connections. If they wanted to know what we were looking at, sounds like it'd be pretty damned simple just to navigate to the logged IP address... Forgive me, but this sounds like them saying "We're going to monitor you using GPS - don't worry, we only store the coordinates, not what you were looking at!".
  • by mangu (126918) on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:15PM (#27734521)

    Also, attempting to send a super high volume of traffic would be enough to get you marked out as suspicious.

    I wish that were true: goodbye spambots...

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:22PM (#27734647) Homepage Journal

    Pretty well, actually.

  • by vivaelamor (1418031) on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:25PM (#27734697)

    1b) What do you do with the 57.2 million non muslims who may take exception to ethnic cleansing?

    Ditto for the Northern Ireland residents. Often uses of such stats ignore the fact that not everyone believes in forced segregation.

  • by mangu (126918) on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:51PM (#27735145)

    What are you talking about? The international banking system collapsed just a few months ago.

    That's wrong. The US federal government has not allowed banks to collapse since 1933 [fdic.gov]

    In America, pre-depression economics was a vicious cycle of boom and bust.

    [citation needed]. Have you tried getting some hard data [measuringworth.com] to back this claim?

    I recently gave a course on Python programming to some coworkers and used data from that site in my examples. It's weird how you can plot data of wages vs. cost of living for centuries and see a slow but constant progress, interrupted only by wars, until 1914. The silver and gold standard caused the economy to be *very* stable.

    Then, after WWI, the UK eliminated the gold standard. A big market bubble arose, followed by collapse in 1929 and regulation in the 1930s. Afterwards it's very difficult to plot anything due to inflation, you cannot determine accurately what should be the worth of things. So, that "vicious cycle of boom and bust" that you mention actually was one boom from 1919 to 1929 and one bust from 1930 to mid-30s and was the result of a government trying to regulate away the economic consequences of war.

    You can try every combination of factors you want, plot wages, cost of living, stock prices against GDP, price index, gold prices, whatever. Government intervention in the economy only makes things worse. An interesting plot is wages vs. cost of living in the UK from the 14th to the 19th century. You can see every time when a king changed the amount of silver in a penny in that graph. Do you want an efficient economy? Take away the power of the government to print money. The only regulation needed is a standard defining the mass of one gram, let the market define how much a gram of silver or gold is worth and the rest is consequence.

    I think the only reason why people defend government intervention in the economy is because no one today remembers the age when the market was free. And, unfortunately, when you allow intervention in the economy, intervention in other areas is inevitable. There has never existed a communist government, one that does not allow a free market to exist, that didn't end up as a dictatorship. Allow the government to take over the economy and no one will have the means to start an opposition movement.

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Monday April 27, 2009 @03:53PM (#27735173)
    This is the uK, not the USA - we have the right to free speach, so long as we don't use it.

    (We would like the right to free beer, but even if we brew it at home for our own use, the government has the right to tax it, and indeed everything else.)

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:30PM (#27737281) Journal

    That's because, quite simply, British people do not consider owning firearms a right any more than we don't consider it a right to own nerve gas. And no, there is no qualitative difference between these examples, it really is just a question of scale.

    Actually, yes, there is. I can defend myself using a firearm with minimal risk to my neighbors. I don't think you can make the same claim for nerve gas.

    What confuses me is the fact that the 'right' to bear arms is actually enshrined in the constitution.

    Because the framers suspected that eventually some jackass politician would come along and try to disarm the population for their "protection"? Because the people of the time had just fought and won a war of independence using their own firearms?

    The right has no pragmatic value, and it certainly isn't morally self-evident like the 'right to clean water'. It is entirely arbitrary

    Self-defense isn't a morally self-evident right?

  • Re:1984 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:47PM (#27737577)

    Sure, no one's perfect. The Chinese may have their Great Firewall, the Australians may have their insane copyright laws, the Germans may have their list of things you cannot say online, and the NSA may be secretly hoarding a copy of the entire internet feed in a bunker in the Southwest.

    But as far as Big-Brother-is-watching-you-style surveillance, the U.K. wins hands-down [guardian.co.uk]. It's like they were using 1984 as an instructional guide. So it is at least a little ironic that Orwell is British.

  • by BarefootClown (267581) on Monday April 27, 2009 @07:03PM (#27738585) Homepage

    Plus they can offload the costs to the ISPs!

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday April 27, 2009 @07:50PM (#27739105) Journal

    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.

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