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UK Government To Monitor All Internet Use 446

nk497 writes "The UK government has further detailed plans to track all communications — mobile phone calls, text messages, email and browser sessions — in the fight against terrorism, pedophiles and organized crime. The government said it's not looking to see what you're saying, just to whom and when and how. Contrary to previous plans to keep it all in a massive database, it will now let ISPs and telecoms firms store the data themselves, and access it when it feels it needs it." And to clarify this, Barence writes "The UK Government has dropped plans to create a massive database of all internet communications, following stern criticism from privacy advocates. Instead the Government wants ISPs and mobile phone companies to retain details of mobile phone calls, emails and internet sites visited. As with the original scheme, the actual content of the phone calls and messages won't be recorded, just the dates, duration and location/IP address of messages sent. The security services would then have to apply to the ISP or telecoms company to have the data released. The new proposals would also require ISPs to retain details of communications that originated in other countries but passed over the UK's network, such as instant messages."
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UK Government To Monitor All Internet Use

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  • Re:1984 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:45AM (#27731021) Journal

    Ok I guess Orwell was about 25 years off

    The irony is that it was written by a Brit.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:54AM (#27731187) Journal

    Well, I am not going to feel safe until *everyone* is in jail.

    I agree. Let's start with every member of the British Parliament and American Congress. I could even make a think of the children [] argument to justify it.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:55AM (#27731213) Journal

    Let's talk about IM. I run an XMPP server which a few of my friends use. Everyone that connects to it used TLS. If they did enough traffic analysis, they might just about be able to tell who I was talking to, but are they really expecting ISPs to correlate every packet anyone sends to that machine (which is not located on their network) and communicate this data to all other UK ISPs so that they can try to work out who I am talking to? And what happens when I talk to someone using a busy server like or They see some encrypted packets going from my machine to that server (well, they don't, because my server is outside the UK, but let's pretend that they do). Then, a second or so later, they see a few million packets going out to various other people. Are they just expecting Google to turn over their logs, or do they expect the ISPs to magically work out who I am talking to be analysing every packet going everywhere?

    The same applies to email. My mail server is set up to use TLS, and so most of the time they can't do deep packet inspection to learn the destination, all they know is that my machine has delivered a mail to the recipient's mail server, and that a lot of people later on have checked their mail on that machine.

    It seems that this will only stop terrorists who are stupid enough to use their ISP's mail servers, which surely isn't a huge number.

  • We all love SPAM! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59AM (#27731275)
    If they keep a database of ALL email sent, it'll be interesting to see how many days it takes until their backup servers are overrun with billions of nigerian prince scams, fake virus alerts and phony offers to get free cash from Microsoft.
  • by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @11:59AM (#27731281)

    Ok, someone out there needs to write a program that will randomally access web sites. It should contain a list of reprehensable sites, as well as use randomally generating site names. It should do accesses on some randomzed time schedule, not continuously. You don't want it to run often enough to significantly slow down your own browsing.

    This is how you poison their database, fill it full of useless data. Go ahead, and track this!

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:05PM (#27731407)

    It's recently been made illegal to photograph the police in the UK because the pictures might be useful to terrorists - it doesn't matter if you intend to use such pictures for terrorism, only that a terrorist might possibly want to have one of the pictures.

    This new law has predictably led to such Kafkaesque situations like this story [] as reported by an actual constable there.

  • Re:1984 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nicolas.kassis ( 875270 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:06PM (#27731419)
    Because what we call Conservatives is in reality an massive amount of people with differing views about things. Some are libertarians some are facist ... the conservative parties try to cater to all of them which creates these crazy policies and contradictions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#27731537)

    Jacqui 'Jackboots' Smith is definitely a Nazi. This moron is one of the most stupid, ignorant, and illiberal people ever to assume power in the UK (with a feeble minority, it has to be said)
    New Labour have done more to dismantle the fundamental fabric of British society than any previous regime. Even the Tories under Maggie 'Madcap-Psychobitch' Thatcher never did such damage to people's fundamental rights (although she was probably more evil in other ways)

    What does it mean to be British?:
    - The right not to have to carry papers or ID cards
    - The right to privacy, and to know that it is illegal for the state to spy on me.
    - The right to protest anywhere I like, without being confined to a police cordoned area to keep me away from the war criminals and terrorists who are running this country.
    - The right not to be beaten to death by the police.
    - The right to be able to venomously criticise all religions, without them being granted 'special rights', just because certain religions (islam, and judaism) seem to be particularly prone to particularly psychotic levels of violence, and can't accept that their behaviour and beliefs should be scrutinised by sane people.
    - The right to access to good public services, unpolluted by private sector profiteers, greedy lobbyists, and corrupt public private partnerships.

    New Labour have taken all of these rights, and are consequently anti-British Enemies of The People, who have granted victory to terrorists worldwide, by curtailing the rights of our people in the name of 'fighting terrorism'.
    I suspect that their attack on our rights, in reality, has much more to do with protecting the status-quo, as any terrorist can just mow down a busy street in a stolen car, if they really want to kill, without resorting to elaborate bomb plots, or mixing chemicals in the basement.
    Fortunately for us, most terrorists are nearly as stupid as New Labour (they'd have to be, to be infected with religion!)

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:52PM (#27732219)

    Wholesale surveillance is not limited by good will, it's limited by technology.

    While technology is becoming cheaper for them, it's becoming cheaper for us also.

    If this trend of recording everything becomes a nuisance, people could have programs doing random web accesses all the time. Get address lists from spammers and make your system send fake emails at random. With enough broadband, this would create an unmanageable amount of traffic for the surveillance systems.

    Making it worse, the true criminals could use steganography on top of all that. If a machine sends a million emails and browses a million websites, what kind of surveillance would find the few messages that contain hidden information?

  • by fluffybacon ( 696495 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:58PM (#27732317) Homepage Journal
    Looks like that's already underway

    Paranoid Linux is an operating system that assumes that its operator is under assault from the government (it was intended for use by Chinese and Syrian dissidents), and it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret. It even throws up a bunch of "chaff" communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert. So while you're receiving a political message one character at a time, ParanoidLinux is pretending to surf the Web and fill in questionnaires and flirt in chat-rooms. Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack.

  • Re:And in other news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:31PM (#27732843) Journal

    That depends on the issue, doesn't it? The last eight years seemed pretty sane for gun rights -- Clinton's gun ban expired, Heller was rightfully decided, DoJ issued memos saying that the 2nd amendment protects individual rights, retired law enforcement officers can now carry in any jurisdiction, etc, etc, etc.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:31PM (#27732851) Homepage Journal

    It's not at all clear how the system is going to work either. For example, if I send an email using an overseas SMTP server, will it be intercepted by my ISP? What if I use a secure SSL connection?

    The sad fact is that this kind of data is only useful for catching idiots who join the "Jihad against the UK" group on Facebook and spend all day watching Americans getting shot on YouTube. Security via things like Tor and anonymous email/IM is so easy now you can bet it's on page 1 of the Terrorist's/Paedophile's/Protestor's/Whistleblower's Handbook.

  • Re:Counterproductive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:10PM (#27733519) Homepage

    Organized Criminals and terrorists will just start using payphones and traditional mail (post).

    Good! Traditional mail is slower and has lower bandwidth than the 'net, and payphones (unless the UK is very different from the US) are becoming scarcer are cell phones become common. Even when there are payphones available, they're great for sending messages but suck badly for receiving them. Not to mention payphones are generally in public places, so someone repeatedly hanging about has an increased chance of being noticed by a witness.
    So forcing them to use these services makes their communications slower, asynchronous, and raises the chance of them making a mistake. From the POV of law enforcement these are all Good Things.
    Seriously, many Slashdotters don't seem to realize that many security measures aren't meant to catch bad guys - they aren't traps. They're meant to make the bad guys lives more difficult and to increase the chance they'll make (and hopefully repeat) a noticeable mistake.

  • by vittal ( 52825 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:15PM (#27733611) Homepage

    Actually, its not illegal to photograph the police - only if its provably of use to terrorists (or whatever is no longer flavour of the month for our esteemed Home Secretary). However, in typical British fashion, nobody is entirely sure of what is allowed/not-allowed, and that includes many officers on the beat.

    The British Journal of Photography ( - just search for police on there) is littered with cases where overzealous officers have declared taking pictures of such-and-such an offence, even to the point of deleting the photos. Needless to say, lots of these cases have follow-ups from the police saying they were wrong.

    The police can not stop you because you are taking a picture - they must have reasonable grounds for suspicion under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act ( or under the Terrorism Act 2000 ( If you are stopped at worst case they can confiscate your photography equipment, but they certainly can't get you to delete stuff (arguably, if they did, you could claim it was destruction of evidence).

    Bear in mind IANAL, so the above is at best a summary. [] has a proper guide to UK photographers' rights written by someone with legal training.

    This is all a classic case of poorly drafted legislation, large amounts of mis-information, the ocassional police officer on a power-kick and the Home Office repeatedly spouting "the terrorists are gonna getcha". Sadly, this is happening all too often in the UK now :(

  • Re:Counterproductive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StrategicIrony ( 1183007 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:45PM (#27734081)

    Oh pffft.

    In national surveys in the US, MORE THAN 50% of people subscribe to the "If I'm not doing anything illegal, what do I have to hide?" theory.

    Did you know that in a recent survey, only 22% of British people surveyed could properly name the 3 countries that makes up Great Britain.

    On an unmarked map, almost 90% of Americans could not identify any of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. 51% could not find New York State. 68% could not find Japan and 20% could not actually find the Pacific Ocean.

    Sure, the number of people who are actively opposed to database surveillance has risen from 5% to 20%, but that doesn't mean the "general public" deserves anything.

    I do notice the western countries with the strongest privacy laws happen to also be the countries with the highest test scores amongst kids.

    Places like Finland, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada.... They aren't known for government surveillance or overbearing police forces.

    I don't know, is this ironic? Or a result of the "liberal agenda" in these places? :-)

    sorry to turn that into a political rant, but... It's just too easy.

  • by ring-eldest ( 866342 ) <ring_eldest@hotm a i l .com> on Monday April 27, 2009 @04:30PM (#27736017)

    Actually it turns out soldiers are human and die like the rest of us when you put a bullet in their heads. Actually it turns out when you bring soldiers into an armed urban center where the populace hates them they die like flies.

    Look at how many died invading Basra, and Basra is full of starving insurrectionist goatherds. Now try invading a city of 4 million heavily armed Americans and see how far you get. I doubt our military could successfully invade, capture, and hold _one_ of our larger cities, much less all of them at the same time... a situation pretty much impossible given the geography involved.

    The difficult part is starting a revolution, not defending yourself against the all-powerful military. The difficult part is waiting for the situation to be bad enough to get the average guy off his ass and into the garage making pipe bombs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:13PM (#27736953)

    It is not at all hard to get true pure randomness into your computer.

    Despite the fact calculating all of the ranges you claim would make it 'easy' would in fact take computers a few million *ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE* more powerful than what exists today to even finish before you die, but there are simple cheap easy ways (Or if you prefer, expensive) to generate true randomness. []
    ^- Based on alpha particle decay using materials found in a home smoke detector and a ccd camera []
    ^- Based off using white noise in an area from a specific angle []
    ^- A built it yourself on a PIC version that uses the outside tolerance levels of capacitor charging. []
    ^- Uses a lava lamp and snapshots to essentially capture the current state of a highly complex chaotic system that would need to be duplicated down to the molecular level to 'run' and get anywhere near the same output (aka, not possible until star trek is no longer fiction)

    Do you mean to say you still aren't using a true hardware random number generator at home?!

    -- Dissy

  • by Shark ( 78448 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @05:44PM (#27737509)

    Webcam, lava lamp.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @09:18PM (#27739959)

    No, the good old days weren't any better.

    Let's see, from your link, counting from 1797 until 1927, there were ten recessions in 130 years, an average of one recession every 13 years. After 1929, not counting the great depression, there were eight recessions. From 1939 until 2009, there was one recession every 8.75 years.

    13 > 8.75

    If you wish, count the great depression in the old system, making it 14 recessions in 142 years, 10.1 is still more than 8.75. The old days may not have been perfect, but the economy was certainly more stable than in the current system of government regulation.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.