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Warehouse or No, UK's Expensive Net Spying Plan Proceeds 134

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs.-the-state dept.
Vincent West writes with this excerpt from The Register: "Spy chiefs are already spending hundreds of millions of pounds on a mass internet surveillance system, despite Jacqui Smith's announcement earlier this week that proposals for a central warehouse of communications data had been dumped on privacy grounds. The system — uncovered today by The Register and The Sunday Times — is being installed under a GCHQ project called Mastering the Internet (MTI). It will include thousands of deep packet inspection probes inside communications providers' networks, as well as massive computing power at the intelligence agency's Cheltenham base, 'the concrete doughnut.'"
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Warehouse or No, UK's Expensive Net Spying Plan Proceeds

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  • Spambot (Score:5, Funny)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:18PM (#27808263) Journal
    With those specs, once it's compromised, it'll be the spambot to end all spambots!
    • Re:Spambot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Prune (557140) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:28PM (#27808353)
      Which is perhaps better than its current intended use.
      • Re:Spambot (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:58PM (#27809073) Homepage

        What I want to know is what attacks are they making on Tor? Presumably they aren't blowing a billion or two on something so easily foiled.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Google TOR end-node traffic monitoring. You might be surprised by how flimsy the anonymity really is, to a dedicated effort.

          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            They can sniff the exit node traffic, but they will not know where the traffic originated from. Furthermore, they will probably say tor is p2p and classify its use similar to using a torrent, in which case its use will end up being illegal.

            • It doesn't matter if they know for certain where the traffic originated from. The point is, you wouldn't wander up to a completely unknown stranger and whisper your personal secrets so they could tell them to another stranger and so on, so why have your computer do that same thing? Even if they don't know the origin, the metadata in your traffic will betray your privacy at some point. How can you trust someone you don't know?

              That's how that guy in Europe got into hot legal water when he demonstrated t
              • Tor is not about privacy, it's about anonymity. If you want privacy then you encrypt, like ssh.

              • by AmiMoJo (196126)

                I think you guys misunderstand how Tor works and what it is for.

                Tor routes your traffic through different machines until it eventually reaches an endpoint. The data is encrypted from your PC to the first Tor node, then decrypted and re-encrypted for passage on to the next node and so on. Finally it leaves an exit node in "plain text".

                I put quotes around "plain text" because anyone sensible will be using an encrypted connection on top of Tor (e.g. SSH, HTTPS). That is where the officials using Tor made a mis

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AHuxley (892839)
          Tor will light you up as 'smart' and you will be noted for extra surveillance.
          Tor is still plain text, it just needs the cash and mind set to watch.
          GCHQ just has to litter the UK with Tor help.
          Then crunch the numbers.
          http://zfoneproject.com/about.html [zfoneproject.com] might be a bit more 'fun'.
          But with laws to allow backtracking and remote keylogging when you become of interest, there are other ways around any software solution.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "better than its current intended use."

        It seems the people in power are determined to use technology as far as it can go. Old abuses of power took centuries to overcome and be forced into law books to outlaw such behavior. Now we have a whole new load of ways the people in power can abuse their positions of power. Its going to take a lot of people standing up to the governments and say no more abuses of power. This abuse of people is slowly creeping in all around the world. The people in power need to be to

  • Because really, that's what this boils down to - bureaucrats circle jerking to the "oh look at how great we are now with this latest shiny project." Never mind that it violates people's privacy on a wholesale basis.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Not just your normal, run of the mill bureaucrats either, by the sound of it. If even Jacqui Smith can be convinced that a project is in violation of civil liberties, after all the crap she's done in the past, then I'm fucking worried about anyone who tries to go ahead with it anyway.

    • by mrphoton (1349555) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:58PM (#27809071)
      Thought I would just put this in perspective for non UK readers:

      This is quite ironic because the politician Jacqui Smith who was backing this crazy plan. Justified the plan with logic such as if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Well.... last month she found out that this was true. Somebody leaked her expenses claims to the nation press it turned out that she had claimed for two porn films along with a load of other essentials for her house such as flat screen TVs which were of course essential for here to carry out her job. Oops.

      Secondly, the last few months and in especially the last week has been very bad for the government. It is generally agreed in both the left and right wing press that the government has totally lost the plot and is also losing control of its MPs. (there is talk of the ruling party splitting in two and senior ministers defecting) Add to this that the UK is in massive debt, and I mean massive. This means that after the next election (in 12 months time) the ruling party will most probably be out. The incoming party will HAVE to cut expenditure and things such as this mad project will be cut and all the employees fired. I can not wait!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Arancaytar (966377)

        Justified the plan with logic such as if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

        Well, turns out she had something to hide. :P

      • The thing is the UK won't really be better off by electing the conservatives. I think, at best, it will give the retards voting for BNP more reason to vote for there BNP because the Tories being elected will imply the UK turning away from the left coming closer to their beliefs.

        As unfair as it may sound people should have to take an intelligence test before being allowed to vote.
        • The thing is the UK won't really be better off by electing the conservatives. I think, at best, it will give the retards voting for BNP more reason to vote for there BNP because the Tories being elected will imply the UK turning away from the left coming closer to their beliefs.

          As unfair as it may sound people should have to take an intelligence test before being allowed to vote.

          I'd be satisfied with a grammar and spelling test.

        • by foobsr (693224)
          The thing is the UK won't really be better off by electing the conservatives.

          Probably no country will be better off by electing 'the other side' given the presupposition that it is still politicians to vote for.

          As unfair as it may sound people should have to take an intelligence test before being allowed to vote.

          The barrier should be set at the reproduction level, which could (maybe) also cure the aforementioned problem.

          CC.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The first paragraph is true. Besides, everyone has things to hide, even if they are totally innocent. Like your bank statements on the back of a postcard, or prefer them hidden in an envelope? How about installing a CCTV camera in your bedroom? Mind if the police go through you and your wife/girlfirend's private photos?

        The second part is just nonsense though, the kind of tripe put out by the Daily Mail. The Labour Party won't split into two, no one (except Daily Mail writers) is even suggesting that. The UK

        • There is no way the current NuLab Gov can keep in power beyond the next General Election.

          This article in the Guardian (Hardly a Tory paper) puts the Tories firmly on course for a landslide victory. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2009/apr/28/tories-on-course-for-landslide/ [guardian.co.uk]

          Most people I know who were NuLab supporters think ElGordo has totally lost the plot but can't think of anyone who can replace him in time for the election who has any chance of stopping the rot.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Ever heard that phrase "lies, damned lies and statistics"? Your are basing your argument on one poll, and worse than that a poll in a newspaper.

            On the Andrew Marr show in the BBC yesterday, in a poll of polls Labour were still ahead and an election would likely either keep them in or create a hung parliament. You can find a poll to say whatever you like.

            One thing is for sure though. No matter what poll you look at, even if not in the lead Labour are not that far behind the Torys. All governments are at thei

            • Hmmm,
              The article I referenced was NOT one poll but three. They all showed the tories on 45% and NuLab on the mid to high 20% mark. Every other Poll I have seen recently gave similar results. My local MP is really scared about losing her place on the MP's gravy train.

              I make no apology for using the terms NuLab & ElGordo. I was once a Labour Party member back in the days when Jack Straw (Justice Secretary) was head honcho at the NUS. This bunch of no hopers has betrayed the ideals of the Labour Pa

            • by mdwh2 (535323)

              Ever heard that phrase "lies, damned lies and statistics"? Your are basing your argument on one poll, and worse than that a poll in a newspaper.

              Right, a linked to poll is unreliable, but:

              On the Andrew Marr show in the BBC yesterday, in a poll of polls Labour were still ahead and an election would likely either keep them in or create a hung parliament.

              "Some guy on the telly last night said" isn't?

              You can find a poll to say whatever you like.

              Therefore, "Most likely an election tomorrow would keep Labour in wi

              • by AmiMoJo (196126)

                I think you need to try and understand what a poll of polls is, and how statistical probabilities work.

                BTW, I also supplied a link to the TV program in question, it's on iPlayer.

                Anyway, the point is that while individual polls tend not to be particularly reliable (and subject to bias from those paying for them), by taking an average of all available polls a somewhat better indicator can be found. The BBC does that because they try to be impartial, but newspapers usually don't because all they want is a head

        • The second part is just nonsense though, the kind of tripe put out by the Daily Mail.

          Presumably you are referring to this Mail article [dailymail.co.uk] which is in fact referring to a Daily Telegraph interview [telegraph.co.uk] with Lord Ashdown the former leader of the Liberal Democrats? This has also been reported by the Times [timesonline.co.uk] and the Independent [independent.co.uk], making your comment somewhat disingenuous.

          The Labour Party won't split into two, no one (except Daily Mail writers) is even suggesting that.

          According to the Telegraph article Lord Ashdown is suggesting just that. Of course no one knows just yet how many Labour MP's have discussed this yet, but a huge election defeat may make this happen.

          The UK does not have massive debt, it's actually still a lot lower than most other developed counties (including France, Germany and Japan). It's big by our standards but put in perspective it's not particularly unusual, in fact our previous low levels of government borrowing were unusual.

          The Labour government has been spending

          • by makomk (752139)

            The UK does not have massive debt, it's actually still a lot lower than most other developed counties (including France, Germany and Japan). It's big by our standards but put in perspective it's not particularly unusual, in fact our previous low levels of government borrowing were unusual.

            The Labour government has been spending like a drunken sailor in port. This has been widely reported both in the UK and abroad. While the UK may have less government debt than other nations the next UK government is going to have to cut back on spending on a large scale.

            If anything, that's an understatement. Even under the (extremely optimistic) predictions the Government is making, the UK is going to end up with one of the biggest national debts out of all the first-world nations. If/when their economic predictions turn out to be too good to be true, well...

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Presumably you are referring to this Mail article which is in fact referring to a Daily Telegraph interview with Lord Ashdown the former leader of the Liberal Democrats? This has also been reported by the Times and the Independent, making your comment somewhat disingenuous.

            None of those articles talk seriously about the Labour party splitting in two, only some MPs defecting. I doubt much will come of it though, as defecting to the Lib Dems is basically ensuring you have no place in the next or any governmen

  • En-crypt-ion!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Prune (557140)
      Man-in-the-middle-intercepting-your-keys-and-certificates!
      • by tolan-b (230077)

        Surely you transport your keys and certs out of band?

        If not then you're somewhat missing the point of encryption!

  • Fight back (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theskunkmonkey (839144) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:29PM (#27808367) Homepage

    I think the best way we can fight the intrusion of governments into the privacy of our communications will be to flood the system with false positives.
    car bomb
    Maybe someone could develop an @home project that sends random packets filled with keywords to other computers running the client.
    attack at noon
    The only way we are going to be able to keep governments in check is by fighting for our rights.
    kill the president
    I mean, if we don't fight the powers that be, who will fight for us?
    sarin gas

    • I know I heard about something else like this awhile back, but I forget it's name. Anyone have a link?

    • by syousef (465911)

      Wouldn't it be quicker and easier to call up the British Secret service and request someone break into your home at 3 in the morning and kidnap you, hand you over to the Americans and put you up in Gitmo for a few years? I mean if you're asking for trouble you might as well do it formally, right?

      • Yeah right. That's why everybody obeyed Hitler*. Way to go...
        I can't understand you "obeying underling" type of people.
        You would accept anything, as long as you're "outta trouble". (Even if it's just for the moment, and will come back worse later.)

        At some point, I set the line, about what is acceptable, and what is so bad, that I will fight it, no matter if someone will fight back hard.
        Some things I will not accept. No matter what.
        And total control of life (the long-term result of this) is the mother of all

        • by syousef (465911)

          I can't understand you "obeying underling" type of people.

          So because I don't choose the stupid and immature tactic of adding arbitrary text to my messages to supposedly trip up these filters (which are probably so awful they do a good enough job of tripping themselves up) you've chosen to insult and belittle me. Way to make friends and influence people.

          Lets see. Obnoixious. Jumps to conclusions. Irrational zealotry. Willing to offend and insult people at the drop of a hat. Wants to push everything to extrem

    • Re:Fight back (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @05:01PM (#27809093)

      Actually, I have a request to all of bot-net operators out there: redeem yourselves.

      There is a thing you can do to pay for your sins and help rescue the future of free speech and unrestricted communications: Use your botnets to spread false positives!

      Make sure that every PC that you have a bot on has: a) random political messages, b) random terrorist messages, c) random child pornography, d) random pirated media, e) any other "taboo" crap like cartoons of the "prophet" Mohammad.

      Ensure that your bots create credible traces in history caches of web browsers, email clients, deleted files on the file system etc.

      If all the millions of infected PCs out there are treated like that, you will make witch hunts and mass persecutions impossible, or at least short lived after every second judge and politician or their family member is caught in the net.

      Do this and I will forgive you all the spam. Hell, I will go out and order random crap from spa... err "offers"!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        You can already frame people by simply sending them an email with a large attachment consisting of random numbers. In the email just write something like "here's that 5yr old I was telling you about, usual password. thx for the pics you sent" and wait for the Paedofinder General comes to arrest them. The police demand the password to the encrypted attachment, victim claims not to know it and is charged under RIPA and goes to jail for a couple of years, branded a paedo for life by the gutter press.

        • Yup, that would work too. Just as long as it is part of the regular spam campaigns of the bot nets. I forgot to include encrypted data in my original proposal, but you are absolutely right, that nonsense about coughing up "passwords" to any random blob of numbers must too be addressed or the fascists' power will just keep increasing.

          • by EdIII (1114411) *

            The whole tactic is nonsense. A sent email is essentially something that was placed upon your property by a 3rd party. There is no proof at all that it was intended to be sent to you or that you consented to receive it.

            How is that any different then sending a couple grams of cocaine to somebody's house and wiping the whole outside of the box with it for good measure?

            I think it is a red herring, or fascism accomplished by sleight of hand.

            What ever happened to actual investigative work? If your really a pe

            • Re:Fight back (Score:5, Informative)

              by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @11:20PM (#27812025)

              The whole tactic is nonsense. A sent email is essentially something that was placed upon your property by a 3rd party. There is no proof at all that it was intended to be sent to you or that you consented to receive it.

              You misunderstood. I was merely taking the idea of encrypted emails and files from the poster, not the actual process of sending them. My proposal was for botnets to create false positives, and so they would fake both sending and receiving of these emails, complete with appropriate "trace" in the email client.

              What ever happened to actual investigative work? If your really a pedophile you would expect other media, and activity. Being caught masturbating near elementary schools or something sick and twisted like that. Or trips to Thailand to molest young boys.

              Catching paedophiles is hard and they are far rarer then some of the "moral panic"-riding fascists would like everyone to believe. And all actual paedophiles are still innocent until they actually go out and try to molest a real child and even then things get questionable if it was the "child" who was soliciting. And yes there are pervert kids out there - just check out any sex-oriented boards to find out when the perverts on them started having their sex drive, most of the TV talking heads would faint from hyperventilation if they ever found out.

              Catching "thought criminals" however is very easy and painless and profitable.

              Guess which of the two The Righteous Crusaders focus on?

              A real pedophile is going to have far more incriminating evidence and behavior than just some encrypted files.

              Not at all. Some are savvy tech users who are likely to have well hidden data. Some do not do tech at all. Some get off on pictures. Some do not. There is only one common critical element: a molested child. The rest, if it is not direct evidence pertaining to that child, is all thought crimes.

              The fact it is used to justify a complete and total invasion of all of your encrypted data is egregious when there is no other evidence to support their accusations.

              They do not care. Catching paedophiles, terrorists, witches and what-not was never the objective. Just a pretext. The objective was always to create an ability to have total surveillance and thus to permanently and irrevocably shift the balance of power firmly toward the "intelligence" and "policing" complexes, away from the public. And this is all about just that one thing: power. As it always was, since times immemorial.

      • Oops, we had the same idea. You just forgot the specific targeting of things that ring most bells, critique-wise.

        Otherwise, that now makes two with that idea. :)

        Let's found a party and get into the EU parliament. ^^

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      A better defence would be to develop encryption for everything. Every web page, email, DNS request etc. Make it easy enough that anyone can install and use it.

      • Hmm... The question is, how to do that, without making it easy for the enemy side (the government in this case) too.

        I mean, the best encryption does not matter, when the government can just grab the logs from the servers you were connecting to.

        It's even worse, when a whole IP is in their bad-places list. How do you hide the connection to that IP, without going trough tons of big-iron routers, where someone could easily install a side-channel to log everything off to the government.

        The only chance here might

    • by slasho81 (455509)

      I think the best way we can fight the intrusion of governments into the privacy of our communications will be to flood the system with false positives.

      Why bother? Anyone who gathers information at this massive scale already has way too much information, far more than they can handle.

      I say let them drown themselves.

      • Don't rely on it. Google has much more information than that, and they don't seem to have drowned in it.

        Computers are remarkably good at analyzing large amounts of data.

    • Hey, let's create it as a virus that also infects other virii. So all botnets get infected to create one giant botnet. All sending out the "crapflood of teh evil wordz tath keeleth teh man".
      Try monitoring that.

      But beware that you do *not* only include "terrorist" phrases, but include what they really search for: Critique about the government.
      For that you could just use the daily newspapers, and create phrases on the topics, that you think will ring the most alarm bells for them. Then submit them to all your

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Do you want to ride in the white or grey Tangi?
      The grey one will sweep you up with the men and woman who like to chat about serious damage to property.
      The white one will sweep you up with the men and woman who like to chat about children..
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Rover_Tangi [wikipedia.org]
    • by Znork (31774)

      Most likely they already have, or at least will have, second level filters that would run simple semantic analysis and dump such content in a low-priority queue. Better than nothing, but it probably wont cause significantly more problems than the massive amounts of false positives they'd get anyway. And anyway, English keywords might trip up filters in China, but I'd bet you'd have to add Arabic keywords to get any interest.

      If you really want to clog the system and/or make sure they'll never be able to list

  • by segedunum (883035) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:32PM (#27808399)
    I suppose it gives them something to do and something important in their own delusional little world. However, when the shit hits the fan over the next few years over the state of our public finances, tax revenues decline, our astronomical national debt interest payments kick in, as well as repayments to dodgy Public Finance Initiative schemes, then these sorts of little projects will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. The notions of democracy and liberty all started with the English Civil War and we're not exactly the nicest bunch of people on the planet when we feel we need to start defending them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      note however, that the civil war didn't end well for the plebes

    • by funkatron (912521)

      The notions of democracy and liberty all started with the English Civil War and we're not exactly the nicest bunch of people on the planet when we feel we need to start defending them.

      And we were so bad at democracy and freedom that we had to ask the monarchy to come back.

  • by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:40PM (#27808449)
    I'm not sure how they plan on doing this, but it seems a little dangerous to have a system with so much power. What exactly is going to happen if someone manages to turn this into a botnet? Something that big could probably knock out the root servers. Does anyone have more information on the structure of the system? Who came up with this idea? How many experienced opinions were brought into the discussion? From what I've seen in my own local government, a lot of politicians have warped visions of how the internet actually works, and what the dangers are (see: A Series Of Tubes.) Really, this seems like a radical case of the client who has grand visions of his super awesome website idea, but actually has no idea what he ~really~ needs. It just seems dangerous to have non-experts on the subject mandating what we do with the net.
    • by pjt33 (739471)

      The client knows precisely what she needs: to be seen to be doing something.

    • by mikael (484)

      The system will be built on "network probes", a standard network infrastructure unit just like a router. Each "network probe" just sits on the network passively recording packets and converting them into a log file. Presumably they will just send the data back to GCHQ to be archived.

      The only weakness would seem to be if they picked up the odd stray "ping" multicast, then such a packet might just be propagated as well.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      ex GCHQ contracting back to the UK gov at 10x their wage in house? I think they might see it as decentralised.
      If you crack your way back into your ISP you find a database of scrambled garbage.
      ie MI5, MI6 wants to know who user with an ip was chatting to 3 hours/days/months ago, they decode it.
  • Another reason for me to leave England.
    • Re:Bye bye England (Score:5, Insightful)

      by corsec67 (627446) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @11:43PM (#27812155) Homepage Journal

      The problem with running away instead of fighting something like this is what happens when other countries do this? Are you suggesting that people flee those countries as well?

      What happens when there is nowhere left to flee to?

  • VPN & SSH (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:45PM (#27808479)

    Do I miss something or you can completely bypass all of the surveillance by using VPN & SSH connection to a remote country.

    Considering that TPB is planing to offer VPN for 4â, getting anonymous on the web will be very easy for people who wants to do so.

    • Re:VPN & SSH (Score:4, Insightful)

      by robably (1044462) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:32PM (#27808877) Journal

      Do I miss something or you can completely bypass all of the surveillance by using VPN & SSH connection to a remote country.

      Yes, which just shows its main purpose will be to track the general populace who are technically clueless, rather than "terrorists", I suppose.

    • Love many, trust a few, do harm to none

      Just wanted to correct your sig for you.

      Love few, trust no one, and harm all who cross you.

      There, that's better!

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      Fairly recently I enabled my FTP and email to use secure connections between the servers. It was stupidly easy to do, and surprised this is not promoted more by internet providers versus the "traditional" way of setting up email and FTP.

      Why have your FTP and email user names and passwords flow around who knows where as clear text, when it can be encrypted?

      Maybe it should be explained that sending/collecting email in the "normal" way is like sending a post card to your house, with a copy of your front door k

    • by Timmmm (636430)

      Forget SSH, what about SSL? I fail to see how they will intercept facebook & gmail messages for example. The whole point of this system supposedly is to intercept email, and no-one ever mentions that in most cases it won't even work.

  • Integrity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vertana (1094987) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @03:58PM (#27808579) Homepage

    Ok, so they build this massive surveillance cluster. It can listen in and decrypt all information passing through all the major ISP players. Now that they have this information, it goes... where? These machines sit in between routers and the ISP's backbone (they'd have to). This means that they are connected to the internet and/or they have remote administration capabilities (I'm assuming dedicated machines). They can't keep the information local, that would be asinine. It would only take one leak (and there will be one, because there are people in the government who will not agree with this. A secretary somewhere will get a memo that gets put on the Internet) of either a password, username, or even a hint that there is remote admin possibilities and it will launch the fury of the Internet at large. Machines will be hacked (eventually) and data will be leaked. Some of it will be embarrassing to the people, while all of it will be to the government. Or maybe they have some secure server that the machines VPN into and transmit the databases that way. Who knows how they could 'securely' transfer this information they are getting, but VPN seems an obvious answer at the moment. That means they will need to deploy the VPN server IPs to the IT's in the field; it also means the server configuration is in a manual. If the government employee thinks they can get away with it or if they are an ex-employee... there will be a whistle-blower. Wikileaks, I guess it's UK's turn ^^

  • by feldhaus (813019) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:06PM (#27808623)
    Don't forget CC All Your E-mail to Jacqui Smith Day [ccjacquismith.co.uk].
  • just ask (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bugi (8479) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:11PM (#27808679)

    If they want to read my spam, they can just ask me.

  • wrong message (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bugi (8479) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:28PM (#27808843)

    You'd think stuff like this would be illegal -- oh, wait.

    What is it with democracies these days that they feel the need to snoop on citizens?

    • by Heed00 (1473203)

      What is it with democracies these days that they feel the need to snoop on citizens?

      They've realized technology is at a point where they can. In short, it's now easy enough. And they also have convenient boogey men lying about that they can invoke as justifications: terrorist, paedophiles (or even just "think of the children" without a specific threat), pirates (copyright and high seas), etc.

      It's often said in a throwaway manner, but information really is power. Governments need a certain amount of power over the citizenry, but once they begin to accumulate it they generally want more.

    • its ALL democracies (so-called) isn't it? its not just the US or the UK or any of the other former british colonies.

      ALL countries are jumping on this anti-freedom bandwagon.

      I simply must conclude that man does NOT want to be free. or, humans in power, when given the chance, will JUMP at the opportunity to restrict the freedom of their subjects.

      this must be perceived as some basic flaw in humanity. seriously! this isn't just one culture, its ALL of them. name me one country that isn't jumping on this su

  • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:29PM (#27808859)
    GCHQ: our Intelligence and Security mission in the Internet age

    GCHQ has two important missions: Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance. Our Signals Intelligence work provides vital information to support Government in the fields of national security, military operations, law enforcement and economic well being. The intelligence we provide is at the heart of the struggle against terrorism and also contributes to the prevention and detection of serious crime. GGHQ supplies intelligence to the UK armed forces, wherever they may be deployed in the world. Information Assurance is about protecting Government data - communications and information systems - from hackers and other threats. GCHQ is heavily dependent on technology in order to execute our global missions. An increasingly rapidly changing digital world demands speedy innovation in our technical systems, allowing us to operate at internet pace, as the information age allows our targets to. One of our greatest challenges is maintaining our capability in the face of the growth in internet-based communications and voice over internet telephony. We must reinvest continuously to keep up with the methods that are used by those who threaten the UK and its interests. Just as our predecessors at Bletchley Park mastered the use of the first computers, today, partnering with industry, we need to master the use of internet technologies and skills that will enable us to keep one step ahead of the threats. This is what mastering the internet is about. GCHQ is not developing technology to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain, or to target everyone in the UK. Similarly, GCHQ has no ambitions, expectations or plans for a database or databases to store centrally all communications data in Britain. Because we rely upon maintaining an advantage over those that would damage UK interests, it is usually the case that we will not disclose information about our operations and methods. People sometimes assume that secrecy comes at the price of accountability but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, GCHQ is subject to rigorous parliamentary and judicial oversight (the Intelligence and Security Committee of parliamentarians, and two senior members of the judiciary: the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner) and works entirely within a legal framework that complies with the European Convention on Human Rights. The new technology that GCHQ is developing is designed to work under the existing legal framework. It is an evolution of current capability within current accountability and oversight arrangements The Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 underpin activities at GCHQ - both existing systems and those we are planning and building at the moment. The purposes for which interception may be permitted are set out explicitly in the legislation: national security, safeguarding our economic well being and the prevention and detection of serious crime. Interception for other purposes is not lawful and we do not do it. GCHQ does not target anyone indiscriminately - all our activities are proportionate to the threats against which we seek to guard and are subject to tests on those grounds by the Commissioners. The legislation also sets out the procedures for Ministers to authorise interception; GCHQ follows these meticulously. GCHQ only acts when it is necessary and proportionate to do so; GCHQ does not spy at will. 03 May 2009

    via http://www.gchq.gov.uk/prelease.html [gchq.gov.uk]

    • GCHQ technology (Score:3, Informative)

      by rs232 (849320)
      "GCHQ is not developing technology to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain .. GCHQ is subject to rigorous parliamentary and judicial oversight .. GCHQ only acts when it is necessary and proportionate to do so; GCHQ does not spy at will

      'the ECHELON [raven1.net] system was designed by NSA to interconnect all these computers and allow the stations to function as components of an integrated whole. The NSA and GCSB are bound together under the five-nation UKUSA signals intelligence agreem
  • damned if you don't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rs232 (849320) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @04:51PM (#27809025)
    (U//FOUO) Domestic Extremism Lexicon [blogspot.com]

    (U) Definitions

    (U) aboveground (U//FOUO) A term used to describe extremist groups or individuals who operate overtly and portray themselves as law-abiding.

    (U) alternative media (U//FOUO) A term used to describe various information sources that provide a forum for interpretations of events and issues that differ radically from those presented in mass media products and outlets.

    (U) hacktivism (U//FOUO) (A portmanteau of "hacking" and "activism.") The use of cyber technologies to achieve a political end, or technology-enabled political or social activism. Hacktivism might include website defacements, denial-of-service attacks, hacking into the target's network to introduce malicious software (malware), or information theft.
  • "...proposals for a central warehouse of communications data had been dumped on privacy grounds..."

    Since they're spending the money anyway, it seems pretty clear to me that plans to create the "warehouse" are still on. They'll just try to make sure nobody finds out about it, and scream "national security" if somebody does catch them.

  • by crxpandion (1528213) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @07:33PM (#27810547)
    So someone tell me why they don't use this "massive computing power" to run scientific simulations that will benefit humanity instead of enslaving it?
  • Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "We opposed the big brother database because it gave the state direct access to everybody's communications. But this network of black boxes achieves the same thing via the back door."

    This sounds like the current season / episode of 24, the UK gets it's very own 'CTU network'!

  • Scare Tactics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by master_p (608214) on Monday May 04, 2009 @02:45AM (#27812973)

    It's a scare tactics strategy aimed at the general population (not the outlaws), for the following reasons:

    1) civil unrest is growing by the minute. People start to realize that politicians are in bed with the filthy rich oil & media tycoons, so there is a need to scare them back to their caves.

    2) the politicians want the donations of their rich oil & media owning friends in order to get re-elected. The media tycoons push for elimination of piracy, because they think their profits will skyrocket without piracy, and push the politicians to do something. The politicians don't have any means other than scaring the Average Joe that he is going to prison for a long time because he illegally downloaded songs and movies. The government has to persuade the Average Joe that they know what A.J. does...

    3) political groups are largely coordinated via the internet these days.

    In other words, what we have here is the same ol' battle of the classes, like Marx described. The means are different though this time.

  • by Budenny (888916) on Monday May 04, 2009 @05:08AM (#27813487)

    This is about one of a large number of measures of surveillance, and its part of a program of control of the population with other limitations of civil liberties which used to be taken for granted. The justification given by the present government is usually the threat of terrorism.

    The underlying motivation is something quite different. It is a certain cast of mind, and its quite unconscious. It is an unexamined concept of society and what it is for a country to be a community, and how people live in association with each other. The upper ranks of the Labour Party have an instinctive assumption that it is right and appropriate for there to be a surprisingly high degree of social control over individuals by others, in the cause of producing a kind of society that they feel good about. Its hard to put one's finger on it exactly, but it becomes clear in conversations with committed Party members, that they think individuals have or should have a greater say in how other people behave than those on the other parts of the political spectrum. In short, there really is for them such a thing as society, and we have much greater real interest in how others live and relate to each other than most of the general public think.

    Once you understand this, you start to realize that many of the very puzzling aspects of recent UK legislation on civil liberties follow from it. Take ASBOS for instance. This is a means whereby a local government organization can get a court order forbidding people to engage in otherwise legal behaviour, because it is deemed 'anti social'. Recently a woman was forbidden by such an order from engaging in noisy sex. It probably disturbed her neighbors. People have been banned from entering or living in certain parts of the country. One young man was forbidden from being sarcastic. Take local government surveillance. People have been subjected to systematic surveillance to prevent them from putting out garbage in the wrong containers. Monitoring devices have been placed in those garbage containers. People have been put under surveillance to verify that they lived in a certain address and so had the right to send their child to a certain school. Just about all journeys in the UK are now recorded by license plate cameras - or on the London public transport system, by records of what trips a given card holder makes. Any public place will be filmed 24/7.

    The latest bizarre episode of this sort was the arrest of an opposition MP on the charge that he incited a civil servant to commit misconduct in public office, by accepting information from him that the government wanted to keep confidential. The MP was arrested, actually in his Parliamentary office, then had his computers seized. Guess what was of interest to the arresting officers? His email files, and in particular his correspondence with the head of Liberty, a civil rights organization.

    This looks to many people like the former East Germany, in which the country spent half its time spying on each other, but its not how it looks to the leadership of the Labour Party. It looks like East Germany, but it also looks normal. What is normal to them is not a society in which there are well defined legal standards, and you can do what you like as long as you do not violate them. What feels normal to them is a society in which anything you do may be restrained or condemned if it turns out to be undesirable. To who? Well, pretty much to anyone, including anyone in government or the civil services.

    Take for instance the question of gender and class. We know that there are over and under representations of men and women, and people from different class backgrounds, in various companies and professions. These may have occurred through unlawful discrimination (though so far, discrimination on grounds of social class has not been made unlawful). The latest initiative from the government seeks to remedy this. Its not simply about equality of opportunity any more. It is about equality of pay levels, and its not just

    • by dmcq (809030)
      Yes I agree, they are control freaks. They are also paternalistic and hate criticism. I don't know how one explains to such a person that what they are doing is extremely destructive and their means are destroying most of what they hold dear.
    • Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

      That paragraph ought to be required reading for every bloody politician who thinks he/she knows best, and for every bloody voter who supports them in the latest social cause.

      It's also encapsulated in the cliche "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". In other words, this understanding is as old as society. It's just that some people think they're going to change the world, and do it without falling into the pitfalls that doomed everyone who came before them.

  • I'm sure those spam messages being sent around contain hidden messages for terrorists. Now there's something worthwhile for our spymaster boffins to do, they could crack the codes in the variable bits of the spam messages and decript the stenography in the misspelled words. Of course they could also stop most of it, maybe they have cracked the main spam bot codes and are spying on the terrorists that way. Spammers, they probably are involved in drugs guns and terrorism. It would explain why so many of them

  • So if they are building an enormous database of inspections, what is to stop other countries from utilizing this data?

    For example, say I am sharing a political document on Limewire. I have a large production PDF with my political causes in it. My country might not be doing the spying that the UK is doing, however if someone from the UK pulls my PDF, then all my information would be in this large database, right? Even if I select protocol encryption, that has no benefit here.

    My example is probably a poor

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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