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UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic 204

Jack Spine writes "The UK government, which is becoming increasingly Orwellian, has said that it is considering snooping on all social networking traffic including Facebook, MySpace, and bebo. This supposedly anti-terrorist measure may be proposed as part of the Intercept Modernisation Programme according to minister Vernon Coaker, and is exactly the sort of deep packet inspection web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned about last week. The measure would get around the inconvenience for the government of not being able to snoop on all UK web traffic."
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UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic

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  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @03:32PM (#27246037)

    They'd have to go for hardware encryption/decryption.


  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Informative)

    by seaton carew ( 593626 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:14PM (#27246783)

    Concerned? Nah, not really.

    The current incumbents are so fekking incapable they would struggle to work out which end of a USB stick goes where. The chances of them implementing *any* form of large scale IT system is zero. Zip . Nada. Not gonna happen.

    They'll be out of office in a year or so anyway.

  • by cdhgee ( 620445 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:39PM (#27247197)
    Facebook already does offer encryption - []. Sure, not everything works 100% perfectly, and it sometimes reverts to plain http, but with the use of enforced https through NoScript in Firefox, 98% of the stuff on Facebook can be made to work reliably over HTTPS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @05:24PM (#27247891)

    What's tragic is that people like you are laughed at where I live.

    "You're saying we don't live in a free society? That's ridiculous!"

    But it's not a ridiculous statement at all. The past 15 years has taken both the US and the EU much closer to totalitarian superpowers run by an elite of politicians rather than by the people.

    People don't want this kind of monitoring everywhere, it's an agenda pushed by the ruling elite (which shouldn't even be "ruling" in the first place). Of course, saying this to any average person makes you sound crazy and paranoid so they stop listening and it all fells rather futile. :(

  • by andy.ruddock ( 821066 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @05:29PM (#27247967) Homepage
    You'll have to force https, almost every link I looked at reverted back to http.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @05:56PM (#27248377)

    The same checks & balances that have existed since the time of the English civil war: independent judges and lawyers, the lay magistracy, and juries of commoners.

    Add to that a vigorous and inhomogeneous press, direct mass communication ("the blogosphere" and trees of mobile phone texting), the regular sitting of Parliament (both houses) including televised question times, and the requirement of a general election at least every five years, and there are democratic checks and balances too.

    The de-fanging of the House of Lords was the de-fanging of a non-democratic check and balance; until the 20th century, the vast majority of members in the House of Lords were there because they were the first born sons of members of the House of Lords. Yes, there were new peerages created pretty regularly (semi-annually, even), and non-hereditary (life) peerages came about, but it was not until the end of the 20th century that the average membership became overwhelmingly "earned" (for some value of earning) rather than "inherited".

    Amusingly, the only members of the House of Lords with democratic mandates are the rump of hereditary members who were elected by the hereditary peers who no longer have membership in the House of Lords. It's not much of a mandate, admittedly.

    The Monarchy was de-fanged during the English civil war, and the Restoration did not re-empower it. Since the start of the 19th century, no monarch has exercised *any* of his or her remaining prerogatives without the direct advice (sometimes prompted subtly by an equerry) of a privy council meeting including First Lord of the Treasury (now the Prime MInister) and a subordinate government minister. That includes even such matters as the disposition of monies granted by Parliament for the maintenance of the royal households, etc. It's not even really just rubber-stamped any more since the most recent rearrangements of the Department of Constiutional Affairs in the Ministry of Justice.

    The monarch is -- and should be -- just a robot doing the bidding of the Prime Minister of the day, acting only when the PM, his or her deputy, or codified successors simply cannot, for unexpected reasons. The only foreseeable (yet still unexpected) reason that comes to mind is the second election in a row producing completely deadlocked House of Commons where no faction is likely to be able to operate effectively. (First time that happens, the PM is still the PM and gets to face the House of Commons; second time that happens, the PM advises the Monarch on who the replacement should be; if that replacement is unable to operate in the House of Commons, and the House of Commons does not suggest a way of determining who *could*, then it's anyone's guess what should happen, however I imagine that if this actually happened, the House of Commons would probably advance a bill seeking to codify the practice, as it has in many other areas in which the monarch used to have personal corner-case reserve powers).

    The United Kingdom is now effectively a federal state, with powers devolved to e.g. the National Assemblies for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland; it is removing the oddity of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom "living inside" Parliament; that court has already been asked to resolve differences of opinion in matters of the division of powers between the national assemblies and the UK Parliament; that court has a long history of invalidating a number of government actions as being ultra vires with respect to power delegated by the UK Parliament; it has a long history of invalidating Acts of Parliament as being in conflict with more-established items (including Acts of Parliament) of Constitutional Weight;
    it has a less-long history of effectively invalidating a number of Acts of Parliment as being effectively ultra vires because they are incompatible with the UK Human Rights Act, which is de facto an item of Constitutional Weight; it is pretty hard not to see it as a Supreme Court comparable to that

  • by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @06:07PM (#27248507)


    Definitely. They have to under the terms of the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers act. That act allows local councils to spy on you for almost any reason, of course it allows central government to spy on you on Facebook. Under the terms of that act if you fail to provide your private encryption keys then they can put you in prison: you have to show that you've deleted them.

    If you work for an ISP, communications provider or some other organisation providing a service to a target you have to assist them in spying. You can't tell anybody, not even a solicitor. Note that this act was passed in 2000 before the "War on Terror" started. The most controversial parts of the act required ministerial activation but almost the whole thing is live now.

    The excuse given at the time was that it was a tidying up exercise to regulate activities that the secret intelligence services were undertaking anyway; the point of the act was to move it all onto a regulatory footing. My cynical view is that the SIS wanted legal cover for their massive technical interception plans and so ended up with the RIP act safe in the knowledge that some future crisis would unfold that would give them the full act they wanted.

    I wrote to my MP about that act when it was being debated about ten years ago; the most serious powers contained have only come into force recently and it's everything all the detractors said it would be. My MP didn't even bother to reply with a form letter even though I pointed out I was sixteen, knew more about the technology than they did and was willing to talk to them about it. The constituency I lived in wasn't even that large so it's not like my MP had massive time pressures.

    They say they want young people involved in politics, that's just another lie.

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