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British Government To Grant Warrantless Trawl of Communications Data 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the express-lane dept.
First time accepted submitter cardpuncher writes "Having opposed the previous government's attempts to introduce mass surveillance of Internet communications, the Conservatives are planning to introduce the very same policy they previously described as a 'culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime.' The plan is essentially to allow stored communication data to be trawled without the inconvenience of needing a warrant or even any reasonable suspicion."
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British Government To Grant Warrantless Trawl of Communications Data

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope.

    Gun, bomb, assassinate, olympics, jihad if not ;^)

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:24AM (#39540835)

    They can introduce all the warrantless tapping statutes they like but there's no obligation or wish on my part to hand over my decryption keys. When there's information I do not want to fall into the hands of my enemy I am NOT about to just giftwrap it for them.

    They can suck the bark off my fat veiny purple-headed fuckstick.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Thailand factories flooding and HDD allocation is what they *want* you to believe. In reality, those HDD were to be shipped off to various governments around the world for their implementations of "1984". That can certainly explain the timings.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I find your faux bravado quite humorous. If you do not comply, you will end up being somebody's whiny little bitch in a very small jail cell. So please, STFU. You're not impressing anyone.

    • by bobbocanfly (1061244) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:27PM (#39541275)

      They can introduce all the warrantless tapping statutes they like but there's no obligation or wish on my part to hand over my decryption keys

      Incorrect. The UK has the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act [wikipedia.org], which lets them demand encryption keys/passwords. If you do not comply, you can face jail time [arstechnica.com]

      • "I cannot remember."

        let them bruteforce the fucker. I am under no lawful obligation to simply hand over information that they will use to incriminate me in $trumped-up-charge.

        • by geckipede (1261408) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @02:11PM (#39542067)

          I am under no lawful obligation to ...

          Willful ignorance or believing that you're in the US are not excuses that a UK court will accept. The comment you were replying to pointed you to the exact law that you're trying to deny exists.

          • I didn't deny the existence of anything. I said they are not getting the fucking encryption keys.

            • by defnoz (1128875)

              I didn't deny the existence of anything. I said they are not getting the fucking encryption keys.

              This would make sense if the sentence you would expect to receive for witholding the keys is less than the sentence you would expect for giving access to the data (or if handing the keys over would endanger compatriots for instance). Otherwise it's a way to go to to stick by your principles.

              Of course it would make sense to use an encryption system which gives you plausible deniability in the first place, or hide incriminating data within a load of legal stuff which you might reasonably want encrypted (acco

          • by Xest (935314)

            To be fair this specific law you're referring too does get blown a bit out of proportion though.

            To be jailed for claiming you don't know what the encryption key is on request the police have to have some proof that you do know what it is. They cannot simply ask what it is, then jail you for claiming ignorance, which is what many people imply the law states.

            Here are the relevant parts:

            (2) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section, if it is shown that that person was in possession of

    • by isorox (205688)

      They can introduce all the warrantless tapping statutes they like but there's no obligation or wish on my part to hand over my decryption keys. When there's information I do not want to fall into the hands of my enemy I am NOT about to just giftwrap it for them.

      They can suck the bark off my fat veiny purple-headed fuckstick.

      You are compelled to hand over your keys by the RIP act. Or you could take the prison time (13 months I believe)

      • No, I'm not. I have the right under common law to not disclose information which can then be used to incriminate me. That includes talking to police, period. I do not even have to give them my name.

        • by defnoz (1128875)

          No, I'm not. I have the right under common law to not disclose information which can then be used to incriminate me. That includes talking to police, period. I do not even have to give them my name.

          Of course you're not physically compelled, by some supernatural force, to give them any information. Just as you're not physically compelled to pay your taxes, to drive at the speed limit or not to murder your mum.

  • It beats me that anyone thinks that this is not already going on. What I want is the practise regulated by law, Why do you think we are resorting to locking up people without trial?

    • Agreed with the ongoing practices.

      I was on the phone to a friend in another city in 1997, just after http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echelon_(signals_intelligence) [wikipedia.org] was revealed. Chatting away, I said to my friend, "Oh, it works by monitoring for a few key words like Dublin, drugs, guns, bombs..." and the line made four loud taps. We sat in silence for a few seconds and considered who would be listening to the tape that was now running.

      Absolutely sure that all unencrypted voice and web traffic is regularly

      • Three men are sharing a hotel room in Russia. While one is trying to sleep the other two are chatting noisily so he decides to play a little practical joke on them. He calls down to the front desk and asks for some sandwiches to be sent up, then calmly walks into the room where the other two men are talking. Upon a coffee table sits a small plant-pot, which he taps three times and speaks: "Comrade Major, please send up some sandwiches and coffee."

        A deathly silence falls upon the room and the prankster final

  • by Dark$ide (732508) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:31AM (#39540875) Journal
    If it's an April Fool, it's not funny.

    If it's not an April Fool, it's not funny.

    Whatever it is this Gov't won't be my Gov't after the next election.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:37AM (#39540911)

      You do understand that the real reason governments do things such as this is so they WILL be your government after the next election, and the one after that, ad infinitum?

    • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:40AM (#39540923)

      The story is real, the Slashdot summary is utterly incorrect. For example, from the article:

      "A new law ... would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant"

      Also it doesn't say anything about trawling stored data, or proposing a requirement to stored data, rather that with a a warrant, GCHQ must be able to access data in real time.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Who you communicated with and when is data. In fact, it's communications data.

        It's also yet another big step towards the police state.

  • by mr_lizard13 (882373) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @11:40AM (#39540931)
    We need Her Majesty to save her subjects and overthrow this government.
  • GB read "1984" as an instruction manual.

    • by mrbester (200927)
      TB started, GB continued, DC condemned while secretly planning to further the "good works"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And I quote: "A new law - which may be announced in the forthcoming Queen's Speech in May - would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant."

    Yes, it is still worrysome, but can we please try and keep things accurate?

    • Can someone mod this up please, as I was about to paste the same thing. It's a *major* error in the summary.
  • ... welcome my government agency overlords. I feel safer already.

    I'm glad our taxes are so well spent.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What the hell do you think pays for all this kind of crap?

    Every time you vote for a politician who wants to raise taxes - for WHATEVER REASON, you're giving the government more resources and more power THAT IT WILL ABUSE.

    And every damn time it happens, you'll rail against the abuse of power, but will ignore the source of that power:

    YOU

    For giving the government that power.

    Go ahead, mod this down. Put your head up your ass and hide from where and how governments get the resources and power to do things like

    • by Nithron (661003) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:14PM (#39541179) Journal
      I agree. But what is the alternative? England, which is where this is happening, has an effective two party system. Like most places. On an individual basis, you realistically have two choices, and they will both lead to the same thing.

      Theoretically, someone should be able to start their own party, and get voted into power by running policies specifically for the people. This is more difficult than it sounds, however, because you have to take into account that people do not vote rationally. Some might, relatively speaking, but probably the majority just vote for the same party forever.

      A popular uprising is a route around this. This requires the populace to be angrier and less apathetic than they are now, though, and while we had some nasty riots recently, they were nowhere near the numbers required to actually pull off a regime change. To get one of those, the living conditions in the country in question need to be much, much worse than they currently are in the UK.

      Blame can only be placed on the individual voter up to a certain point, as they have to work within the system they have, and with the people they are surrounded by. Of course, the people causing this problem are all individual voters too. But they are unlikely to be reading comments on slashdot. Even if you shouted this in their face, they would probably react with hostility, because their behaviour isn't really guided by stone-cold logic, and a lot of people don't like their behaviour being questioned. Also, you'd be shouting in their face.

      This situation isn't as bad as it sounds, though. If quality of life here got really bad, a popular uprising would occur. It's self regulating - if the system gets that bad, it will get replaced. If it doesn't, then hey, things are going pretty well, relatively speaking. Unless technology gets so advanced that rebellion becomes impossible, in which case, we'll all be screwed.
      • by isorox (205688) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:22PM (#39542561) Homepage Journal

        I agree. But what is the alternative? England, which is where this is happening, has an effective two party system.

        England doesn't have a national government. Local government tends to vary between the 3 major parties and often have coalitions and independent councillors.

        The national UK government is currently a coalition. Sadly the powers that be in the media and government don't like this, and certainly don't want it to become commonplace as in the EU. They collaborated to fight the only chance of this generation seeing electoral reform.

        Some might, relatively speaking, but probably the majority just vote for the same party forever.

        This actually makes the small minority of swing voters think they're empowered (95% of the votes in the UK are meaningless, it's only marginal votes in marginal constituencies that count). And they are, they get to choose between Labour and Conservative.

        A popular uprising is a route around this. This requires the populace to be angrier and less apathetic than they are now, though, and while we had some nasty riots recently, they were nowhere near the numbers required to actually pull off a regime change.

        Those riots were generally people nicking TVs and trainers. Had they ransacked chequers and burnt parliament to the ground, or even just attacked a council office, or a job centre, I'd have been more sympathetic.

        There was a lot of anger about bankers recently too, so occupy London camped outside of St Paul's, then enforced the view they were work-shy homeless hippies and fell off the the news radar before, quite rightly, being removed as the pointless eyesore it was.

        • by kraut (2788)

          England doesn't have a national government

          Err... Which England are you talking about, 'cause I'm pretty sure last time I was down Westminster way, the Houses of Parliament looked like they were still standing, and Downing street seemed pretty busy.

          Oh, you're being pedantic. Fair enough, the UK has a national government, and all of the nations within it, except England, have some form of assembly. But as a reasonable first approximation, the Westminster government calls the shots.

          They collaborated to fight the only chance of this generation seeing electoral reform.

          Which, sad to say, was an awful compromise, and completely squandere

        • by Nithron (661003)

          England doesn't have a national government. Local government tends to vary between the 3 major parties and often have coalitions and independent councillors.

          As the other reply to this post says, that's not really true. We have local government, councils, and also of course local MPs - although they are part of the national parliament. It's not the local councils who are responsible for the proposed internet monitoring, it's the national government - a cabinet made up mostly of MPs that run the country nationally.

          It's currently in a coalition, but this is the first time in ages that this has happened. Usually the Liberal Democrats have next to no power; hence

      • by Kat M. (2602097)

        I agree. But what is the alternative? England, which is where this is happening, has an effective two party system.

        This is not quite what I would say. Yes, first-past-the-post voting encourages a two party system. That does not mean it's completely unassailable.

        First of all, look at the recent Bradford West [wikipedia.org] by-election, where Labour lost nearly half its vote and the Tories got stomped into the ground in favor of a socialist candidate. Admittedly, the circumstances were quite unique -- Galloway is quite the character, and Respect is not going to win in a whole lot of constituencies in a real general election -- but it's

        • by Nithron (661003)
          True, Galloway did just win that by-election. But as you yourself say, this is a rarity, and it's unlikely to have any real impact on national government. Looking at the history of British elections, it's almost always the Labour or Conservative parties in power. When there's a coalition - not very often - it's made up of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, just like now.

          You could say it was a three party system if you wanted to stretch it, but the current coalition isn't really acting lik
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:03PM (#39541079)

    This is about real time access with a warrant. I suggest that everyone RTFA for once. The summary and title are WRONG. That is not to say that it is not still troubling but let's be real here.

    • by cardpuncher (713057) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:17PM (#39541211)

      No it isn't. The summary relates to "stored communication data" - which is the stuff that ISPs are required to hold short of actual message content (email senders and recipients, URLs, dates and times of being online) - and not real time access to communications in progress. The article makes it clear that without a warrant:

      "It would enable intelligence officers to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long. They would also be able to see which websites someone had visited."

      I think the summary "warrantless trawl of communications data" is, er, warranted since it means that fishing expeditions can be carried out for anyone visiting certain websites and graphs of communications between individuals can be constructed without any need to persuade a magistrate (a fairly low threshold) that the invasion of privacy is reasonable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Firstly this law is the same as Jacqui Smith was going to sign, it makes the ISPs index the data into a database ready for search. All tracking data, not just data for which a warrant has been made on the off-chance that a warrant *may* be made in future. That you should be tracked *you in case* its needed in future.

      The warrant is then made later, or perhaps that requirement will simply disappear as it has so often. Once you have the data all ready tracked and ready to search, you've effectively made a surv

      • by biodata (1981610)
        Who is the Oracle consultant? Perhaps he would like all our emails sent to him direct, to cut out all this nonesense about legislation and databases?
  • Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, access to communications data without a warrant is already permitted. However, the legislation is particularly difficult to read (at least, I think it is...), so here's my approach to interpreting it:

    "Communications data" is defined (s21(4)) [legislation.gov.uk] widely:

    (a) any traffic data comprised in or attached to a communication (whether by the sender or otherwise) for the purposes of any postal service or telecommunication system by means of which it is being or may be transmitted;
    (b) any information which includes none of the contents of a communication (apart from any information falling within paragraph (a)) and is about the use made by any person— (i)of any postal service or telecommunications service; or (ii)in connection with the provision to or use by any person of any telecommunications service, of any part of a telecommunication system;
    (c) any information not falling within paragraph (a) or (b) that is held or obtained, in relation to persons to whom he provides the service, by a person providing a postal service or telecommunications service.

    (my emphasis — and see s21(6) for the definition of "traffic data")

    Where a "designated person" (quite a long list of people are "designated") "believes that it is necessary" (s22(1)) to obtain an

  • As far as I can tell all this law does is enable GCHQ to compel network providers to give them real time access to data, when supplied with a warrant. I'm pretty sure GCHQ was allowed to intercept and decrypt data as required anyway - it's why they exist.

  • by lga (172042) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @06:13PM (#39543779) Homepage Journal

    It's not the body of the communications that can be trawled, but the headers. The government want to be able to see who is communicating with who, and when. The plan was written about in The Telegraph last month [telegraph.co.uk]but the plans are much older than that. The last Labour government, lover of all things authoritarian, came up with the Interception Modernisation Programme which in its original form would have had details of all electronic communications sent to a central government database. When the government eventually realised that this would be completely impractical they shifted the work to the service providers, who would all have to keep the details of the communications travelling through their networks and give the government access to their database at all times. The service providers realised just how much this would cost and so the government committed £2 billion [theregister.co.uk] to cover those costs over ten years. The plan was heavily criticised by the Conservatives, who published a paper titled Reversing the rise of the surveillance state [conservatives.com]. (Which is still on their website.) It was also criticised backthen by the London School of Economics [guardian.co.uk].The plan was shelved in 2009 after opposition from communications service providers and a realisation that it would not be popular with the public.

    After the election, though, the Conservatives decided to resurrect the plan, giving it a new name [theregister.co.uk], theCommunications Capabilities Development Programme. (CCDP) Questions were raised in 2010 bythe Information Commissioner's Office [theregister.co.uk]and it was mentioned in The New Statesman [newstatesman.com]. Now the government are pushing ahead with the CCDP and the queen's speech will say that they intend to introduce legislation to implement the programme as soon as possible.

    There are many things wrong with this programme of spying. It is impractical, expensive, a huge violation of our privacy, it places too much power in the hands of government, a government who we cannot trust. Making the full details of who talks to who available will allow security personnel to trawl through our data on fishing trips instead of requiring some basis for suspicion. Combined with the database for Universal Credit [wordpress.com], which will be almost as comprehensive as the National IdentityRegisterthat was criticised so much by the Conservatives, and the centralisation of medical records, this provides private information about us all to the government on anunprecedentedscale with huge scope for abuse and for life-destroying mistakes.

    If these plans scare you, please write to your MP to tell them your objection to the Communications Capabilities Development Programme. You can use WriteToThem.com [writetothem.com] to send it if you don't have their details. Pleasesign theOpen Rights Group's petition against government snooping [openrightsgroup.org] and maybe consider joining the group too.

  • I think that, as concerned citizens, we should not wait for the intermidable ruminations of parliament to bring forward this important security measure. Surely, it would be better to comply forthwith. I would be perfectly happy to forward all of my emails, by bcc, to any minister or agency responsible for this. Does anyone have the relevant email addresses?

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