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UK Government Says More Spying Needed 297

An anonymous reader writes "Our wonderful government here in the UK has decided we're not being surveilled enough, and agreed to spend £12 billion on a programme to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage. According to various sources, upwards of £1 billion has already been spent on the uber-database. Rationale? Terrorism, of course (no prizes for guessing). Needless to say, not everyone is as happy as Larry over this: Michael Parker pointed out how us Brits are being 'stalked.' I'm just looking forward to when the data gets lost."
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UK Government Says More Spying Needed

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  • Keyhole career. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:35AM (#25336879) Journal

    ""Our wonderful government here in the UK has decided we're not being surveilled enough, and agreed to spend £12 billion on a programme to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage."

    With economies going the way they are. job security will be spying on each other.

    • 12 billion pounds??? A bargain.

      Unless of course you Brits have cost overruns that make the low bidder richer than Gates like we do here in the States. If so, expect your taxes to exceed 110% of your annual income one of these days to pay for the priviledge of being spyed on...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        no, no, no. that's not how it works. they're no-bid contracts handed out to companies with close ties to, or have curried favor with, high position government official. and there's no such thing as cost "overruns" when it's a cost-plus contract. the more the contractor spends, the more they're paid. and with tax-payers footing the bill and no government oversight, what could possible go wrong?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @04:33AM (#25337635)

          Apologies for a serious reply to a joking post, but having worked temporarily in a government office and now working for a company which refuses to do government work full stop, this isn't how it works either.

          The government appears to be completely incompetent managing these contracts. They order one thing, then completely change their mind. They demand the impossible. They insist how things should work instead of focusing on what it should accomplish. Both sides end up pissed off and out of pocket.

          We're currently working on a contract for the Olympics. The olympics delivery authority is currently holding bidding for a job, and has spent months choosing a provider, but they've demanded that once they choose a provider, the system is ready in two weeks. That schedule is not possible. As a result, we've already done the job, and the other bidders must have either done the same or are planning to just not meet the contractual dates.

          As I mentioned, we don't work with the government. We've done the job as a subcontractor to one of the bidders, and we've been paid whoever wins the job. Pricing is never straightforward, but one way or another, the government will in the end have paid for half a dozen implementations of their system, all but one of which will be thrown in the trash. The bidding companies will just add their lost costs onto another job they win. This is really where the cost overruns on every single job go.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @06:54AM (#25338171)

            However, where I work the new building was designed and OK'd. The contracted parties are EXTREMELY unhappy because no changes were made.

            They were expecting a change which they could charge for. The change then shows up other changes "needed" and they can be charged.

            As it was, the company didn't do more than break even no the deal.

            Contractors LOVE changes. Charging for them is the continuing stream.

    • by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <mils_orgen@hotmail.com> on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:42AM (#25337167) Homepage

      With economies going the way they are. job security will be spying on each other.

      Fear, what can't it do?

      • by yabastaaa ( 877550 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @06:08AM (#25338017)

        Fear, what can't it do?

        Not much, it seems :(

        We've had a lot of rights removed over the past decade or so, rights we've had since the magna carta, but which have been discarded without debate or thought.

        As an example:

        • The government can ban any groups it labels ‘terrorist’ (Terrorism Act 2000)
        • The government can monitor any and all private communication (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000)
        • Armed forces can be deployed on UK soil in peacetime (Civil Contingencies Act 2004)
        • Property and assets can be seized without warning or compensation (Civil Contingencies Act 2004)
        • Spontaneous protest is now illegal around Parliament (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005)
        • Without trial, any British citizen can be tagged, put under house arrest and banned from using the telephone or internet (Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005)
        • Any citizen can be imprisoned without charge for 28 days (42 days has passed the house of commons) (Terrorism Act 2006)
        • The executive can change any current legislation without consulting Parliament, with very few exceptions (Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006)
        • Arbitrary punishments with no legal precedents can be issued with little legal recourse, based on hearsay evidence ( Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003)
        • British citizens can be extradicted to the United States with no evidence presented (Extradition Act 2003)
        • Compulsory identification for all British citizens, with an unlimited amount of details stored in a central database, which the private sector will have access to (Identity Cards Act 2006)
        • Upon arrest the police have claim to your DNA, even if you are released without charge (Criminal Justice Act 2003)

        Taken from the site protests.org.uk [protests.org.uk]

    • by 32771 ( 906153 )

      This is great indeed! Soon we will be so secure that I can have the nuclear powered car I have been yearning for. I mean what else could society gain from more security. Security for its own sake is pointless. So its either nuclear power in peoples hands or to match Russian ramped up spying in Europe.

    • No More Spying! (Score:2, Interesting)

      I totally agree with you. I don't want the Government to read the email I sent to my mum, or listen in on my phone call to work. I *sure* as hell don't want them to read the TXT MSGS I send to my mates. The Government is clearly lying about their intentions with this! They don't want to prevent another King's Cross, or 9/11-type attack through this latest move to enhanced ability to conduct surveillance. They just want to listen in on my phone calls!

      I mean, there haven't been any big terrorist attac
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @05:54AM (#25337969)

        Unfortunately most people fail to see the connection between lists and any danger. The lists are being made to influence people who speaking out against the ones in power. But most people fail to see the danger of giving the power seekers ever more data to mine on everyone. Knowledge is power and the ones in power seek the use that knowledge to prevent people standing against their point of view.

        With ever more detailed lists on peoples views, soon we end up with people fearful of what they say on the phone and in emails, for fear of their views could even just risk being taken out of context and seen in any way critical of the people in power. At that point, the ones in power are influencing people directly.

        At that point, we live in a police state, where freedom is gone and replaced by fear of the ones in power. Problem is, we are getting there now, and from here on out, its simply a matter of consolidation of ever more detailed data mining.

        The central reason why centuries ago votes were made in secret, was to prevent the ones in power, from seeking to influence the voters. Yet the power seekers are forever seeking to game the system to gain ever more information on peoples opinions. Now the ones in power are building automated systems to influence people.

        Throughout history its been shown time and time again that the ones in power become ever more corrupt over time without any feedback on how they are behaving. Its been show so many times through history.

        Most people don't realise the game people in power are playing. People in power are not so interested in individuals. The ones in power are interested in adding everyone to different lists so they can then control and profiling groups of people, so they can then use divide and conquer tactics, to break groups of people up. The goal is that the fragmented groups cannot then stand and oppose the point of view of the ones in power. That is why they data mine.

        The lessons of history have not been learned by enough people. Looks like the world is seeking to repeat the mistakes of the past. Freedom and democracy are constantly undermined by a minority of people in power for their own gain. Its just a matter of time and how far we are going to let them all game the system to push the excesses ever more unfairly in their favour. After all, its not as if they are robbing hundreds of billions of tax payers money to keep their rich lifestyles while millions risk loosing everything.

        Anyway, if the millions of people can't buy bread, then let them eat cake. ... My point is, the names in history change and the names of their ideologies change. But what remains is basic human psychology and that doesn't change. The lack of empathy of the ones in power over their powerless minions never changes. For all their words, its only their actions which count and millions now face loosing their jobs and millions are treated unfairly by the ones in power.

        In such a world, its no surprise that the ones in power would want to watch their minions very closely. After all, people could start to complain its getting all to unfair. But we cannot have that. We need ever more laws to protect the ones in power and ever more laws to keep the minions down and away from power.

        The world will never change until everyone worldwide realises that people who constantly seek power over others have a recognisable cluster B personality disorder. All cluster B personality disorders are ultimately driven by fear. And the ones with the disorder constantly seek to control that fear and control everyone around them based on their fear. (There are multiple fears, two examples are lack of attention and the other is fear of lack of power. The attention seekers want more attention (they were deprived of parental attention as children. The ones who want power seek to prevent anyone ever having power over them again, the way they were treated unfairly as children)... The very nature of seeking power over others, means that person seeks to push other

        • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @06:50AM (#25338149) Homepage Journal

          The ones in power are interested in adding everyone to different lists so they can then control and profiling groups of people, so they can then use divide and conquer tactics, to break groups of people up. The goal is that the fragmented groups cannot then stand and oppose the point of view of the ones in power. That is why they data mine.

          The US and the UK both have governments with powerful spying ability, and yet both countries only have 2 political parties that are likely to win general elections.. so I don't really get your reasoning on this. Seems to me like if this were happening, we'd have a lot more competition going on in politics. Perhaps your reasoning is that it will happen if we're not careful? Personally I'd be quite happy for people to be thinking for themselves more and not just splitting every issue into diametrically opposed viewpoints.

          That would be a clever way to operate if you are in power and want to keep it though - creating distrust among the opposition so that they split into groups. Then they have less voting power. Just saying "we are better, vote for us" - as politicians and their fanboys so often seem to be doing - doesn't really get results very quickly.

    • by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @05:49AM (#25337947)

      These technologies of mass surveillance and ubiquitous tracking, which have slid into existence in many states (excluding some of the more enlightened European countries, such as Germany) were designed and built during economic good times. If, as seems very likely, we have mass unemployment, some interesting societal effects can be expected - ranging from conspiracy theorists (it's the jews! no, the illuminati! no, it's the CIA!), plus the inevitable search for a scapegoat amongst the dimmer / less educated members of society (those currently saying things like "Why are we paying billions to bankers when small businesses don't get bailed out?") will mean a lot of social churning. Some of that will be well organised via political parties, some through NGOs, some very informal and "underground". Now, what happens when mass surveillance technology meets mass unrest? Given what we know of abuses of the blank cheque that are inevitably going on... I think things could get really ugly.

      (Yes, of course they're ugly now, but there's still a broad acceptance of the various "think of the children!" "time of war" "terrrrrists!" pablums by which this crap is justified.) I saw some rather scary vox-pops of attendees at a McCain rally the other night, with the guy with bulgy eyes and a pseudo-military "Sir, yes SIR!" manner who when asked what would happen if Obama won, said "I think it will make Europe very happy..." - a slight pause whilst he dealt with the cognitive dissonance of saying that to a representative of The Enemy, namely European media - "and it'll be socialism, and the destruction of our values and our freedoms!"

      (Tangent -- I wonder what such people would say if someone said "Obama will allow the NSA to intercept and monitor American's phone and internet traffic, en masse, without any warrant!" or any of the other egregious civil-rights abuses this administration's delivered. Their heads would probably explode with fear at the coming invasion of socialist lizard army Europeans, forcing everyone to marry a gay and eat cheese... )

      Anyway, when these types start burning immigrants out of towns and shooting at black helicopters and such, or at least register on the radar of the security state as a potential threat and get the full attentions of the (real) Man,.. well, people get crazy when they find themselves unexpectedly hungry, cold and poor.

  • Like violence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 )
    Damn, spying really is like violence. You know, like XML...
  • by Entropy98 ( 1340659 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:39AM (#25336887) Homepage

    Thats almost 200 pounds for every man woman and child in the UK.
      IP Address Finding [ipfinding.com]

  • Next step (Score:5, Funny)

    by RockMFR ( 1022315 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:40AM (#25336897)
    Putting cameras in toilets. We must keep an eye on every movement the terrorists make!
  • re (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnVanVliet ( 945577 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:44AM (#25336911) Homepage
    well at least it is public here in the US the govt. still says that the NSA is not spying at the "NSA controlled a secret internet spying room in an AT&T facility on Folsom Street in San Francisco" quote from http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/09/rights-group-su.html [wired.com] see: http://news.cnet.com/AT38T-sued-over-NSA-spy-program/2100-1028_3-6033501.html [cnet.com]
  • ... growing up in Alabama, I somehow always thought that maybe -- just maybe -- there was a better world out there. A cooler world, where people sounded cool, even if what they said was stupid. A place where it always rained, except for when you went to the park. A place where every band was destined to make a million, and the government had some sort of permanency about it. A place ... called ... London.

    How badly did I want to live there?

    Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you

    • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:21AM (#25337077)

      Modern day Britain reminds me of the science fiction dystopia portrayed on the old British TV show The Prisoner [wikipedia.org].

      It's sad and foreboding how social and technological dystopia's emerge from what was once only imaginative musings of science fiction writers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by superbrose ( 1030148 )

        What I find ever more concerning is not only the amount of spying, but how contrived the use of spying equipment has become.

        Thanks to the The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act [opsi.gov.uk], originally intended to prevent crime and stop terrorism, state bodies and councils are now authorised to use spying equipment almost at their volition.

        According to an article on bloomberg [bloomberg.com], such use includes tracking down dog owners who fail to clean up after their four-legged friends, as well as catching people who are dumpin

      • I am not a number..... (slashdot user 1197859)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by negRo_slim ( 636783 )

      Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you at all times?

      If you have nothing to hide you can revel in the fact you are safe, or at the very least when you are victimized it will be preserved for posterity!

    • dude, the M2 thing? seriously, let it go, and don't take it so personal....
    • >Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you at all times?

      Yes, and none of them ever finding one of the hundreds of 'displaced' laptops, harddrives or USB sticks.

  • Ah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kamikazearun ( 1282408 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:47AM (#25336919)
    Soon the l337 h4x0r d00d5 will have access to private details of every citizen of the UK.
  • Money no object (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:54AM (#25336973) Journal

    After wasting £500bn recently (nearly the entire budget spend by government in one year) on bank bailouts that didn't work, it's amazing there is someone out there still stupid enough to loan the UK money for such crackpot schemes (speaking as a UK citizen). This is on top of the £20bn being wasted for the ID card system that will also crash and burn.

    Still, it's government, and they don't care about other people's money, because it's not their wages or pensions that are effected.

    With encrypted links being made ever easier, and the /. story recently of Google pushing an easier to use secure protocol, these tracking schemes will ultimately fail, at vast taxpayer expense.

    • by tindur ( 658483 )
      Also a branch of an Icelandic bank was taken over by the British state a few days ago using anti-terrorism legislation. If you can declare a bank a terrorist organisation there doesn't seem to be any limits on where you can apply anti-terrorist legislation. Frightening..
      • Mod parent up! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheLink ( 130905 )

        This demonstrates how the laws can and will be used.

        It justifies those who believe that when laws are proposed you should think of how it could be abused, not just how it could be used.

        "The Treasury released a document to Parliament yesterday showing it used sections of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to take control of the bank's assets, saying in the statement the bank's collapse may harm the U.K. economy. "

        http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aXjIA5NzyM5c [bloomberg.com]

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:57AM (#25336987) Journal

    The UK had its own domestic terrorists for decades: the IRA. Yet the government did not feel that such pervasive monitoring was necessary. Now, largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary.

    I say BS: every agency is wetting themselves hoping to get their hands on this data so that they can pursue their own petty agendas in the same way as RIPA powers have been used for trivial reasons.

    Everyone has something to hide. Not necessarily illegal, but enough to coerce behavior.

    • by kaos07 ( 1113443 )
      While I agree with the general sentiment of your post, especially about the history of the IRA, your statement "largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary" ignores the 2005 London bombings which killed 52 people and injured 700.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_skywise ( 189793 )

        The 2005 attacks which, I should point out, were NOT stopped by the near blanketed amount of cameras in the area. (Although it did accelerate the investigation as to who was involved after the fact)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        the 2005 London bombings which killed 52 people and injured 700.

        52 lives. In 2005 there were 271,000 road deaths in Great Britain [statistics.gov.uk]. How much money was spent per head trying to reduce that, compared to the huge sums trying to reduce the number 52? I could also bring up a few medical statistics.

        Why is it that a small number of deaths by one means merits spending of several orders of magnitude more than other causes of death?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gnavpot ( 708731 )

          In 2005 there were 271,000 road deaths in Great Britain [statistics.gov.uk].

          Are frogs and deers counted into that number?

          Your link says 3201 road deaths.

          (Your point is still valid though.)

    • by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:55AM (#25337237)

      What's bizarre is that our government has such intrusive tendencies as to have a camera covering every stretch of the country yet also has such 'religious tolerance' that those who wish to wear a burqa [imcworldwide.org], which is effectively a personal tent, allowing them to avoid any kind of indentification, are free to do so. That's what I call an inconsistent set of beliefs. IMO, any group serious in their intent to monitor the population would not allow the monitored to so easily avoid their gaze.

      Could this be the governemt being manipulated by security theatre experts?

      SecurityAdvisors> Omg, we're running out of ponies!
      Government> Aaaarghhh, Panic!
      SecurityAdvisors> Never fear, our surveillance systems will save us. *cough* a bargain at £12 Billion"

    • by canthusus ( 463707 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @04:56AM (#25337713)

      The UK had its own domestic terrorists for decades: the IRA. Yet the government did not feel that such pervasive monitoring was necessary. Now, largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary.

      I disagree - I don't think the change is that monitoring is suddenly *necessary*, more that it's suddenly *possible*.

      Decades ago we didn't have the technology to routinely capture, store and process this information. Decades ago, the public might not have stood for it.

      Now we have the technology. September 11th didn't make monitoring necessary, but did make it politically acceptable.

      Why do governments build such systems? Because they can.

    • Quite. Anti-terrorism laws have already been [wikipedia.org] abused [bbc.co.uk].

    • by mormop ( 415983 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @06:58AM (#25338193)

      Absolutely. If I recall correctly the security services had, by 1974, infiltrated the IRA to the point where they knew who all the main players were and at one point actually had an informant at the highest level of the IRA council. The decision to "take them down" however was vetoed because they knew it would be a bloodbath with a high possibility of collateral damage, embarrassing for the UK and politically disastrous with the US.

      But, what it did prove is that there's no substitute for someone on the inside, which I suspect is what every criminal and real terrorist will be aiming for in the offices that handle the information and ID data of every UK citizen. Besides, all that will happen is that that real terrorists won't use email. phones etc., for planning their terrorising because at the end of the day, planning a terrorist attack is not the sort of thing that requires instantaneous communication. They're in no rush as long as there's a big bang at the end of it.

      Personally, as a child of the sixties who lived through the cold war and the IRA terror campaign I still can't reconcile current government behaviour with the idea that we were the good guys because in the eastern bloc, you were watched wherever you went, your phones could be tapped and your personal mail could be intercepted by a government that used the defence of the state from the evil decadent westerners as its justification. At least in East Germany they managed to keep peoples personal records securely locked away in a basement.

      At the next election my questions to the doorstep candidate will be "Will you/your party scrap ID cards, the universal snooping database, the retention of innocent people's DNA, PFI and dumbaarse IT projects that will cost 300 new schools worth before it becomes obvious they crap? If the answer is yes they get the vote. The economy isn't too much of a concern as this lot have screwed up so badly it'd take a real dickhead to do any worse. At the last election our Labour MP had a majority of about a 100. I don't think he'll be back next time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpe ( 36238 )
      The UK had its own domestic terrorists for decades: the IRA. Yet the government did not feel that such pervasive monitoring was necessary.

      They did try internment of IRA suspects, but soon found out that it helped IRA recruitment. Yet the current bunch of idiots dosn't appear to understand this, constantly trying to bring back the same idea by increments. (Whilst sending out the message that the police are competent to investigate any crime except "terrorism".)

      Now, largely because of something that happe
  • by dogganos ( 901230 ) <dogganos@gmail.com> on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:02AM (#25337003)

    I have thought over it many times and, regarding myself, I have concluded: I would prefer to live freely and unobserved and someday die in a terrorist attack, than live in a "security" hell for all my life with cameras and RFIDs up my ass.

    Put aside the fact that surveillance almost never stops a attack - only it helps find the burned-out guys.

    And some semantics: How many of you walk in the street and feels ''terrorized''? On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape, and your personal data wanders in places you don't know?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And some semantics: How many of you walk in the street and feels ''terrorized''? On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape, and your personal data wanders in places you don't know?

      Honestly? On the streets I'm far more worried about the average mugger than anybody with a terrorist agenda. But to be honest, I don't manage to work up the great paranoia over my information either. If this state should degenerate into some facist hellhole and I was a threat to the government, then I should have worried more. I don't agree with what's happening but it's hard to get really worked up about a hypotethical. Then again, I might be setting myself up for a Niemöller variation that goes like

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by easyTree ( 1042254 )

      On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape

      You say that but just wait until you are assaulted by the police in full view of their moveable cameras capable of number plate identification after the police have asked for the cameras to be trained on their position. When you request the camera footage, you'll realise that actually noone in the UK is filmed at all :S

    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @03:06AM (#25337293)

      Amen. Once in a while you wish Slashdot had a golden +10 moderation, and this is one of those times.

      "Terrorism", when looked at number of deaths per year, is basically a total non-issue. How many people have been killed by terrorism in the UK in the last 50 years? Would anyone support a program where you spend _millions_ per prevented death, knowing that far more deaths could have been prevented by spending the same money to prevent something with far higher mortality rates - say, by improving traffic safety, or by reducing the number of smokers?

      Terrorism is such political bullshit. Sure, some people get killed (and I grief for them), and we do need to be careful - but we should not, under any circumstance, change our entire way of life, the entire structure of our civilisation, just because a bearded monkey in a cave in Afghanistan got a little upset with us.

      There is no al queada (oh sure, there are some people taking that name, but there is no Dr. Blofeld-style, centrally led organisation hell-bent on destroying western civilisation. It is all opportunistic, people sharing a banner that was largely _invented_ by the US). And bin Laden, if he is still alive at all, is a sick, dirty old man living under extremely poor conditions in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and only a threat to himself.

      Stop the fear already.

      • by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @03:53AM (#25337491)

        Stop the fear already.

        Stop what fear? I don't know ANYONE who is fearful of terrorists, or being caught in terrorist acts. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who is scared of this BS. As near as I can tell, it's 100% political propaganda that nameless people are scared and want more big-brother style "protection". People want more self reliance and an honest right to defend themselves when the need arises... be it from terrorist, thugs, or the government.

        A challenge to all Slashdotters: If anyone can tell me of people - either you, or people that you personally know - who are genuinely afraid of these things happening, post your stories now:

      • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @04:13AM (#25337553) Journal
        "Terrorism", when looked at number of deaths per year, is basically a total non-issue. How many people have been killed by terrorism in the UK in the last 50 years?

        I know it's a rhetorical question but I've just been looking this up myself. This includes the IRA, so just under 2000 including terrorists being killed, according to Wikipedia. That's 40 a year. Slightly higher than the number of tea cosy related accidents. [theyorker.co.uk]
    • You seem to think that the reason is to protect You. It is them that they are worried about.
    • by bitrex ( 859228 )

      I have thought over it many times and, regarding myself, I have concluded: I would prefer to live freely and unobserved and someday die in a terrorist attack, than live in a "security" hell for all my life with cameras and RFIDs up my ass.

      It has never been about what you or I want - everyone intellectually knows that the amount of money being spent on surveillance to combat terrorism is orders of magnitude out of proportion to the real threat. Terrorism is the pretext, sure, but these surveillance systems have great value-added functions that finally outshine whatever their original purpose was "supposed" to be.

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:07AM (#25337033) Journal

    With SSL access to gmail and increasing use of SMTP-TLS providing encrypted MTA-to-MTA communications, email is more often only accessible in clear text on the server. Since Google is a US-based company, does it provide access to people's mailboxes to the UK government. I am assuming that warrants for every gmail user in the UK would not be granted, so we are talking about warrantless access.

    Or perhaps the UK government thinks that everyone in the UK uses a UK-based email provider?

    • That's a very good point. I'd not trust external email providers, regardless of country, not to roll over and supply the information, but I hold all my emails on my own server (along with a handful of clients) and use TLS by default. They'd have to ask me to give them access to my own emails, or find a way to hack that or my (Linux) desktop.

      Although I'm sure if they did ask for access they'd be saying "if you've got nothing to hide..."

  • With the speed they loose the data they do have to collect much more just to have some left in their own hands.
  • I pity the poor saps who have to sit and listen to our phone calls. I come close to running out the room screaming with people I've known for years - whiney, self-indulgent moaning. Bitching about the weather, the government, the television, cars, public transport, the quality of the beer and then of course I've got this terrible pain in the diodes all down my left hand side...
    • Bitching about the weather, the government, the television, cars, public transport,...

      Might wanna cut down on bitching about the government. You never know when you can find yourself in some database as a "terrorist" with your every move tracked, because "the software offered limited options for classifying entries": http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/10/08/2056245 [slashdot.org] (yes, USA example, not sure if UK is as bad yet but sure sounds like it)
  • As this BBC news article illustrates, even direct monitoring of a known suspects phone(s) in the lead up to a terrorist event still does not prevent bad things happening:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7606834.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    How is the ability to monitor and store information on a whole population going to help? Who is promising that they can improve the situation? Who has their hand in the governments pocket?

    We are fast heading towards a total surveillance society, and that will only have negative consequences fo

  • by Chris Tucker ( 302549 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:39AM (#25337161) Homepage

    And you're ALL Number 6.

    Do you have the courage that Number 6 had? Will you fight back against Number 2?

    Are you just "A number" or are you Free Men & Women?

    The choice is yours.

  • Abuse of power ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Davemania ( 580154 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:44AM (#25337183) Journal
    I am sure many reader are probably aware that assets of Iceland's bank were seized using anti-terrorism laws. Out of curiosity for people from the UK, is there even any reaction to this misuse of power ? With the economic going down, and surely crime rate will rise, I wouldn't trust the civil servants with powers like this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I'm not from the UK but just looking at what's said: Over seizing the assets? Yes. Being an anti-terrorism law? No. I think at this point you could have said it's an emergency and done pretty much what you wanted to anyway. I'm actually far more creeped out by Berlusconi:

      "There is talk of suspending markets for the time needed to rewrite rules," he told a news conference when asked what European Union leaders might discuss if they meet in Paris this Sunday.

      So he downplayed it a little later on the reactions

    • by pjt33 ( 739471 )
      By UK standards that's a mild abuse of anti-terrorism laws. They're normally used by councils to check whether parents live in the right catchment areas for schools or to catch people who let their dogs foul pavements. The other main use appears to be extraditing bankers to the USA.
    • Re:Abuse of power ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kbg ( 241421 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @06:58AM (#25338191)

      Many people here in Iceland are not happy about being labeled terrorists by the UK. Iceland is probably the most peace loving nation in the world. We have no army, the police here doesn't carry guns and to my knowledge no Icelander has ever been suspected or linked to any terrorism in the history of Iceland.

  • libertarian option. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by barv ( 1382797 )
    Now that that particular technological cat has got out of the barn door, how about the Google option - make all those CCTV's into publicly accessible web cams? Just think. With person recognition software tied in I could keep track of my wife and kids, check up on my gf, and in my spare time develop software to keep an eye on the local pedophiles and Muslim terrorists. Nah. I think I would prefer to trust Mr Brown (and whoever else can afford a private CCTV spy network) to do the right thing with all th
  • Panopticon in the UK (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UnixUnix ( 1149659 )
    A friend living in London received yesterday by mail two parking violations and one moving violation fine, total cost over 200 (pounds, not dollars). But it appears the UK does not yet have enough surveillance... maybe she can look forward to receiving five per day, not a measly three. Jeremy Bentham would have been proud.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mormop ( 415983 )

      The problem with all this is that the government uses fairness in order to justify this kind of system and to a large extent it's correct. Rich and poor alike are caught on camera, booked and fined automatically and without bias but with enough cameras no-one escapes the fair hand of robotic justice.

      BUT, and this is a but the size of John Prescott's, I suspect that part of what makes the interface between state and citizen tolerable to the masses is the little victories that you score over the Man once in a

  • First of all - I'm not really in a position to jude whether more or less surveillance is a good thing; I can say it doesn't worry me a lot, just like the terrorist threat and other organised crime dont worry me too much. After all, in my daily life I don't feel that any of those things are in my way. The worst I have experienced is having to take off my shoes at Heathrow when I went through security, and I think that must have been worse for those around me. Frankly, I am surprised that they were willing to

  • by stevedcc ( 1000313 ) * on Saturday October 11, 2008 @03:52AM (#25337487)

    I've escaped all this crap by moving to Germany. I never really like the way britain is becoming a surveillance state and moving here was such a breath of fresh air.

    It wasn't that hard to find an IT job either, only one month of serious searching.

    I'll never need one of these british ID cards, I'm not paying for that bloody database, and the DNA database here has people's names taken out of it if they aren't found guilty.

  • Opportunity cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @04:06AM (#25337525) Journal
    In the last 5 years, there have been roughly 100 deaths related to Terrorism in the UK. The death rate under the IRA was slightly higher at about 50 per year. Let's take that higher figure and assume some 500 deaths over the next 10 years.

    So, to fight this, we have a £1 billion database, a £12 billion surveillance program, and an ID cards scheme costing £18 billion. £31 billion for fighting those 500 deaths, or £62 million per death presumably prevented.

    Perhaps if this £31 billion was spent on subsidising healthy food or teaching kids to cook properly and healthily, we could see a drop in the several thousand heart disease related deaths each year. If it was spent on road safety perhaps we could see a drop on the 3000 or so people killed on the roads each year.

    Why are we worrying about terrorism?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) *

      Why are we worrying about terrorism?

      We aren't. We are worried about unjustified and unjustifiable governmental intrusion into our private and public lives. Governments aren't worried about terrorism either, but they want us to think they are.

  • http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/key [poverty.org.uk] facts.shtml

    The UK has a higher proportion of its population in relative low income than most other EU countries: of the 27 EU countries, only 5 have a higher rate than the UK. The proportion of people living in relative low income in the UK is twice that of the Netherlands and one-and-a-half times that of both France and Germany

  • Just get a back door, or a government job, and stalk victims with more ease and comfort.

    As I'm not from the UK, I have to wonder what sort of stalking laws this would break.

    The government of course being exempt from them.

  • We need more spies to justify paranoid people.
  • China (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bestiarosa ( 938309 )

    Honestly, come and live in China and you'll be less spied upon than this.

    I've never felt as free and anonymous as now, living in a not better identified middle-sized city in an anonymous province of China.

    And then they say China is a repressive regime where you have no freedom.

  • by chris_sawtell ( 10326 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @05:33AM (#25337901) Journal

    In other news:

    It is with great sadness that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [rspb.org.uk] report that the wild pigeon population is being totally decimated, yet strangely there is no evidence of the cause of the presumed deaths.

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] reports that the hit rate on a page about an interesting implementation of IP [wikipedia.org] has increased by several orders of magnitude.

    The IETF report that the RFC server for rfc1149 [ietf.org] and rfc2549 [ietf.org] have been pom-dotted into oblivion by millions of Britons determined to preserve their privacy.

    The price of quality eggs of pure racing pigeon breeding stock has suddenly punctured the thousand pound barrier for the first time in history, resulting in the share value of the British Consolidated Pigeon Breeding Co. increasing by 500% per day for the last week.

    Market analysts are dumbfounded.

  • Meanwhile, OUR wonderful governments here can not [click2houston.com] secure the voting [nypost.com] rights [lvrj.com] against the scammers [rottenacorn.com]...

    Dead people voting? No computers raising alarms...

  • "An anonymous reader writes"

    It's OK. Relax. We know who you are. Just sit still and wait for the knock on the door....

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @05:59AM (#25337985) Homepage Journal

    You have to spend tons of money on spying on those who will get pissed off about the tons of money that is being spent on spying, instead of doing far more productive things with the money that those who are being spyed on, would benefit by.

    As an example of what people want [unesco.org] vs. the amount of money being spend to support pseudo defense against terrorism. Money that clearly should instead be being used to remove the reasons for any terrorist to exist or have the ability to gain support....

    It is interesting that the current economic ballout of $700 billion is ...... well see the chart at the above link to the then military budget. And note the cost of eradicating small pox from the world, and recall Bush publicly using small pox as a terrorist possibility....

    And the terrorist of 9/11..... a little investigation very strongly points to world stock market manipulation via nickel and dime draining of south east Asia [pbs.org] as the main motivating and force behind the terrorism of 9/11. Even Ted Turner publicly said 9/11 was an act of desperation.

    Would you pay for a service that was not working for your benefit? I suspect the answer is NO.
    But you are paying taxes for a service that is not working for your benefit. Why? Because you are being threatened, terrorized to do so.

    Boston Tea Party is history.... we all need an organized "stop paying for a service that are being used against us" effort.
    Its very clear that there is an unhealthy power and money addiction being backed by threat from the government controlled military and police.

    The amount of money being spent today as "protection money" is most certainly criminal in comparison to what it can be better spent on to make this world a lot safer via. making it a better world to live in for everyone. (except for the power, money and war mongers which are less than 1% of the over 6 billion human residents of this planet...)

    A peaceful and effective effort to stop paying for a service that is so clearly and obviously not working. Any suggestions?

    • by 3seas ( 184403 )

      A suggestion:

      Choice. The Choice to chose from and honest and genuine list of what is needed and wanted by the people, as to what to spend tax payer money on.
      You pay Taxes, you get to Chose what it is spent on.

      Simple, peaceful, effective. And who would complain without exposing themselves, against such a direction?

      Its clear that by genuinely removing problems you can remove the expenditures of treating the symptoms of the problems. The saving then used to address and resolve the next problem, thereby increas

  • by damburger ( 981828 )

    The authorities (both government and corporate, if there is really a difference) now has such a technological ability to watch us and to manipulate the opinions of at least the weakest 80=90% of us, there could very well be no more mass uprisings, ever.

    Too many people are all about themselves, their idiotic quest for acquisition and a pitiful concept of personal identity sold to them and a million other fools by professional marketers.

    If you ever suggested the idea of violent revolution to one of the sheepl

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.