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Every Email In UK To Be Monitored 785

ericcantona writes "The Communications Data Bill (2008) will lead to the creation of a single, centralized database containing records of all e-mails sent, websites visited and mobile phones used by UK citizens. In a carnivore-on-steroids programme, as all vestiges of communication privacy are stripped away, The BBC reports that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says this is a 'necessity.'"
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Every Email In UK To Be Monitored

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  • PGP... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:16AM (#25394357)


  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <{billposer} {at} {alum.mit.edu}> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:18AM (#25394377) Homepage

    In a carnivore-on-steroids programme, as all vestiges of communication privacy are stripped away,

    This is quite misleading. According to the linked article, the program will only log traffic information, not message content. This may not be good, but it is a far cry from stripping away "all vestiges of communication privacy", and it means that it is not comparable to Carnivore, which actually would log message content.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:20AM (#25394401) Journal

    I'd quote from the spam form, but really, look up PGP. It works, and it works just fine over SMTP.

  • Forcible decryption (Score:5, Informative)

    by adoarns ( 718596 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:21AM (#25394407) Homepage Journal

    Made worse by UK statute giving the police the authority to order the disclosure of encryption keys or the decryption of encrypted data.

    Yay fifth amendment and subsequent interpretations equating disclosing cipher keys with self-incrimination!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:21AM (#25394413)

    yes they can. theyve locked up the liquid bombers for exactly that sort of thing. conspiring to commit murder.

  • by erikina ( 1112587 ) <eri.kina@gmail.com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:31AM (#25394513) Homepage
    Apparently they're only logging origin and recipient. So PGP isn't going to help you. In response to the GP: http://freenetproject.org/freemail.html [freenetproject.org]
  • No, it is USE (Score:3, Informative)

    by electrogeist ( 1345919 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:49AM (#25394691)

    How many ways to get what you want
    I use the best
    I use the rest
    I use the enemy
    I use anarchy

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @01:04AM (#25394857)

    Three words for you (and people in the States, as well): "Making terrorist threats".

    It's been used on people of all ages and colors. Yes, even kids:

    * Middle School Kids have been threatened with being put on the Terrorist Watch List. [wired.com]
    * A student was arrested for "Zombie Fiction" because the story was set at a high school. Not *his* high school, mind you, *a* high school. [lex18.com]
    * A Chinese student was arrested because he made a map of his school for a video game (probably Counter Strike or a similar FPS) [joystiq.com]
    * Two boys were arrested for talking about shooting up their school, probably jokingly. [cumberlink.com]

    I miss the days when there were these petty requirements for things like evidence and probable cause.

  • Re:In other news (Score:5, Informative)

    by hughk ( 248126 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @01:26AM (#25395065) Journal
    There are specific laws protecting normal post that the government must comply with. It requires a warrant to have that post intercepted inside the UK.
  • Re:That's it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tim99 ( 984437 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @01:33AM (#25395107)
    Oh for goodness sake! The USA has been involved in this stuff for years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON [wikipedia.org]
    The West's e-mail traffic has been monitored and put into databases since ARPA-NET and IBM Mainframes in the 1970s.

    One of the most significant reasons for concern is that the technology for doing this cheaply has evolved faster than the increasing level of normal traffic. It is probably still difficult to filter out the nuggets of valuable intelligence from the morass of management drone spreadsheet e-mails that pass themselves off as vital business traffic - If you want to send embarrassing or sensitive stuff just hide it as part of an image file in a mass of pictures from 'my holiday'...
  • Re:That's it (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @01:53AM (#25395239)
    A lot of british expats move to canada and australia.
  • Re:PGP... (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @01:56AM (#25395267) Homepage Journal

    I used to work for a network monitoring company that used both content and context to classify Internet traffic. Actually, it's a lot easier than even using PGP. All it takes is something as trivial as a ROT13 encryption, using a foreign language, or using code words.

    Simply obscuring the message means that the analysis engine has to try to decrypt the message without knowing the encryption algorithm and the key. It may be possible to recover both but you need something like the computing power at the disposal of the NSA. Code words or foreign languages are even worse because the analysis must also be carried out in the language used in the e-mail (meaning the analysis has to be carried out in all possible languages without knowing a priori which language the e-mail was written in). As the Navaho "wind talkers" demonstrated during WWII, this can be a very effective means of obscuring a message.

    I'm not saying don't worry about it. It's still offensive to even suggest that all e-mails be monitored. I'm just saying that the technical reality of attempting to capture and analyze all e-mails for suspicious content if the population being monitored is at all large is pretty daunting. We ran into all of the above problems where I worked plus some others that would take even longer to describe. Web traffic and certain other internet traffic can be easily classified. For e-mail, SMS, IM, etc., you will only catch what people leave in plain site.

    To me, this ranks right up there with a politician demanding that all porn, hate speech, etc. be filtered. It only sounds like a good idea until you start to try to figure out how to do it. Then it becomes obvious that it's not technically feasible. Hopefully, the Brits will figure that out before they spend too much money on the project.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:24AM (#25395475)

    Excuse me but:

    Article 12.

                No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as stated by the UN.


  • Dear Number 10 (Score:2, Informative)

    by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:32AM (#25395535) Homepage

    I know we're your wayward cousins from "across the pond" So you can be forgiven if you didn't get the memo [nationalacademies.org]. Allow me to quote the most relevant part:

    Pattern-Seeking Data-Mining Methods Are of Limited Usefulness

    Routine forms of data mining can provide important assistance in the fight against terrorism by expanding and speeding traditional investigative work, the report says. For example, investigators can quickly search multiple databases to learn who has transferred money to or communicated with a suspect. More generally, if analysts have a historical basis for believing a certain pattern of activity is linked to terrorism, then mining for similar patterns may generate useful investigative leads.

    Far more problematic are automated data-mining techniques that search databases for unusual patterns of activity not already known to be associated with terrorists, the report says. Although these methods have been useful in the private sector for spotting consumer fraud, they are less helpful for counterterrorism precisely because so little is known about what patterns indicate terrorist activity; as a result, they are likely to generate huge numbers of false leads. Such techniques might, however, have some value as secondary components of a counterterrorism system to assist human analysts. Actions such as arrest, search, or denial of rights should never be taken solely on the basis of an automated data-mining result, the report adds.

    The committee also examined behavioral surveillance techniques, which try to identify terrorists by observing behavior or measuring physiological states. There is no scientific consensus on whether these techniques are ready for use at all in counterterrorism, the report says; at most they should be used for preliminary screening, to identify those who merit follow-up investigation. Further, they have enormous potential for privacy violations because they will inevitably force targeted individuals to explain and justify their mental and emotional states.

    What? You were aware? You just don't care. You like establishing a culture of fear for political purposes, and don't care about what us eggheads say? Oh sorry. Keep calm and carry on [keepcalmandcarryon.com].

    The National Academies.

  • Re:PGP... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:35AM (#25395563) Journal

    The UK has laws that if they require your keys to read your mail, you either give up the keys, or go to jail. So, PGP isn't necessarily the best option for the people over there. It'll only make you safe until the government doesn't want that any more.

  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:43AM (#25395627)

    Either that, or we have gone back to 1984. I didn't know Orwell wrote non-fiction!

    George Orwell Bibliography

    Nonfiction Books:
    Down and Out in Paris and London. London: V. Gollancz ltd., 1933.
    Homage to Catalonia. London: Secker & Warburg, 1938.
    The Road to Wigan Pier. London: V. Gollancz ltd., 1937.

  • Re:In other news (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @03:49AM (#25396035)

    Vehicles are already surveilled and controlled in the UK. London is covered with ANPR cameras as are a number of major roads, with more being installed all the time. Practically every carpark located anywhere larger than a village has them too. That is carparks attached to buildings not just public carparks.

  • Get the facts! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Macka ( 9388 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @04:02AM (#25396109)

    Exactly. Ericcantona, the poster of this story is having a good laugh at the expense of the tin foil hat brigade frothing at the mouth over this. Especially considering what he posted is complete mis-information. Here's a quote from an informed article [out-law.com]:

    The laws order the retention of who called whom, when and for how long but not the content of phone calls. The internet log retention orders will also mandate the keeping of information on a user's activity but not the content of any communications.

    A telecoms business lobby group told OUT-LAW.COM at the passing of the Regulations last year that the orders would have little impact on the industry.

    "The reality is that nothing much has changed. The new legislation will make little practical difference as most telecoms providers keep certain information for billing purposes and customer records," said Michael Eagle of the Federation of Communications Services. "That information would be enough to meet the requirements of law enforcement agencies. There is no need to keep more data that you are ever likely to be asked for."

    Only a fool believes everything he/she reads on Slashdot without checking out the facts first.

  • by daveewart ( 66895 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @04:25AM (#25396311)

    Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_Provisional_IRA_Actions [wikipedia.org] - the numerous bombings by the IRA in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

    Then *one* incident in 2005 by "Actual Terrorists" and everyone goes ape.

  • Re:That's it (Score:5, Informative)

    by radio4fan ( 304271 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @05:01AM (#25396541)

    I left in 2007.

    There wasn't one single thing that made me go, but the accumulative weight of paranoia and illiberalism.

    Shamelessly ripped off from here [protests.org.uk]:

    • 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)

    Note that some of this predates 9/11.

    The government is not-so-gradually putting in place all the mechanisms that a totalitarian police state needs.

    What's sickening is that this is largely supported by or ignored by the public.

    Every letter I wrote to my MP was replied to by a "we need it to keep people safe, and the public support this measure" fob-off.

    In theory I should stick around to try and change things, but it's like staying in a pool that other people are shitting in.

  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @05:29AM (#25396761) Homepage Journal

    The Gestapo was different from SS, which was different from SA.
    Although Gestapo was "owned" by SS, it was administered by the Reich Security Service. Similar to all other dual-control organisations which Hitler in his inherent supreme paranoia wanted to be: fighting amongst each other.
    The fact of German V-men has been a myth. Even in 1939, Gestapo employed only about 60-90 informers in Saar-Brucken area.
    Iam not justifying Gestapo or Hitler's atrocities.
    Am just stating facts: yes in wartime people do get shot for stealing maps. The same way iraqis are "collaterally killed" by US troops.
    What Britain is doing is very very frightful. This kind of ALL-Seeing information falling into the hands of a paranoid like Hitler is enough to throw the country into chaos and war easily.
    Plus why can't the government become more transparent? They seek to x-ray me, but stall investigations into their own incompetency or outright bribery allegations.
    How come the State is more important than me? Am the State, and this is a Government for the people.
    In every way this ruling is more dangerous.

  • Re:No, it is USE (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeremyp ( 130771 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @05:43AM (#25396873) Homepage Journal

    I always thought it was

    "I use the NME"

    the NME being a British music newspaper.

    Googling for the correct lyrics on line suggests that opinion is split but NME is probably correct, although the ambiguity was probably not lost on the Sex Pistols when they wrote it.

  • by jeremyp ( 130771 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @05:58AM (#25396969) Homepage Journal

    The word is "bombs" not "firecrackers". Fifty odd people died in that attack as well as lots of people being injured. The casualty figures were higher than for any IRA attack on mainland Britain.

    Apart from 7/7 there was a copy cat attack that failed a few weeks later, an attempt to drive a burning landrover into Glasgow airport and an attempt to blow up aircraft by using explosives disguised as soft drinks, all of which failed.

    So, while the response by the British government has been totally disproportionate (including some monumental screw-ups by the police that would be funny if innocent people hadn't been killed), the threat is/was more serious than firecrackers on a few tube trains.

  • by Ice Tiger ( 10883 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @06:42AM (#25397249)

    A petition has already been started on the downing street website (http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/no-to-1984/).

    Feel free to express your views against this.

  • Re:That's it (Score:2, Informative)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @06:45AM (#25397271)

    Yes but the colonies set-up their own legislatures. They became self-ruled citizens, and they weren't happy to have Parliament close those legislatures & suddenly take-over. The colonists tried to resolve the crisis and preserve British-America, but the arrogant British refused to give them seats on the Parliament. So the colonists created their OWN parliament and called it Congress.

    The British made the same fool mistake with India (refused to expand Parliament to include Indian representatives). I guess people really don't learn from history.

  • by Gimble ( 21199 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @06:48AM (#25397285)

    Not that I agree with the governments intentions, but the measure that is proposed intends to collect data about communications, not the content.

    That is the destination of every email, phone call and start and end time of every session with an ISP will be logged.

    Some of this is required due to EU law, but other measure are UK only.

    See the Register story [theregister.co.uk] or the actual consultation doc [homeoffice.gov.uk].

  • Re:That's it (Score:3, Informative)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @06:52AM (#25397307) Homepage Journal

    Your Senator is supposed to represent your State, not you. The 17th Amendment basially broke that though. You would have been better looking at how many people were in your Congressional District, which is represented directly by your local Congresscritter.

  • by HertzaHaeon ( 1164143 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @07:00AM (#25397365) Homepage

    A surveillance program (not quite the same as the UK one, but still) was recently fought back here in Sweden. It was mainly a protest led by bloggers, both liberals and leftists, who forced the government into an embarassing crisis as big media and people in general noticed what was happening. The government finally was forced to make big changes, and more importantly, they were taught an important lesson. Perhaps now they fear us, the people, a little bit.

    It is possible to fight someone like this. So why aren't people doing just that in the UK? Take it to the blogosphere and the streets. If you don't protest loudly, I'm sorry to say you deserve what you get.

  • Re:That's it (Score:2, Informative)

    by TuaAmin13 ( 1359435 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @07:37AM (#25397625)
    It's not a democracy, it's a Republic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_republic [wikipedia.org] We elect representatives to vote on what we think will be our behalf. If it was a democracy we'd be directly voting on every measure.
  • Re:That's it (Score:2, Informative)

    by fprintf ( 82740 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @07:45AM (#25397687) Journal

    Are you talking about creating a system of government like Slashdot? You must be new here... haven't you seen the flame wars, the off-topic rants, the herd moderation (e.g. agree with Microsoft, get moderated down, post something pro linux get moderated up).

    Back in the day, when Karma was an actual score, there was competition to see who could get the most karma points. Many users figured out a way to game the system, by posting just the right kinds of opinions. Those users, in a Slashdot based system, would be the politicians! Say what the people want to hear, get rewarded! Say what you believe, get penalized!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @08:02AM (#25397805)


    The European Convention on Human Rights


          1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
          2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

  • Re:In other news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Andr T. ( 1006215 ) <andretaff@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @08:05AM (#25397825)

    V for Vendetta and 1984.

    I'd also add Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451.

  • by elfguy ( 22889 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @08:50AM (#25398243) Homepage

    Every email needs to be encrypted and every web site needs to use SSL. That's the only way we'll beat all the control attempts by the various governments.

  • Re:In other news (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @08:51AM (#25398269)

    Don't you recall the plan to put GPS trackers in everyone's cars so that people could be taxed per mile, instead of the current road tax.

    Hence you need runners.

  • Re:Jeeee-zus (Score:5, Informative)

    by evilandi ( 2800 ) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:29AM (#25398679) Homepage

    Hey, Britain. What's going on over there?


    Yet again, Slashdot has confused "a proposal by a British government minister" with "a law which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament". The former has occured, the latter has not.

    It won't happen for two reasons:

    1. The upper house (House of Lords) is stuffed full of [wikipedia.org] Conservatives who can't be removed (and won't support it.

    2. The lower house (House of Commons) is up for election in less than two years. The Conservatives will win by a landslide and the intercept programme will be cancelled.

    3. Nobody is stopping anyone from running their own mailserver with TLS [wikipedia.org]. Whilst it is theoretically practicable to monitor email traffic from all UK ISPs, it is not theoretically practicable to monitor encrypted email servers in every household. Running your own mailserver is neither difficult nor expensive these days. Ditto using an offshore mailserver and connecting through encrypted POP/IMAP.

    The real scandal here is that a government minister should suggest spending quite so much money on something that is so trivial to circumvent.

    [Remember, in the UK, right-wing (Conservatives, capitalists, currently opposition but widely expected to win in 2010 by a landslide) = libertarian, left-wing (Labour, socialists, current government) = authoritatian. There are other significant parties such as the Liberal Democrats who do pretty much what it says on the tin [wikipedia.org].]

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @11:48AM (#25400857)

    Hopefully we got over that blowing up people from another religious viewpoint so our people from the "true religion" can run the country stuff years ago.

    Actually, not that long ago in Northern Ireland but thankfully it seems to be stopping.

    That was after all the reason [wikipedia.org] Guy Fawkes and his friends went to blow up Parliament and the King - not because they wanted an anarchist freestate, or a republic, but because they wanted the protestant king and parliament out and replaced with their chosen catholic king and parliament.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson