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In the UK, Big Brother Recedes and Advances 176

PeterAitch writes "The UK government's Home Office has put a hold on their surveillance project to track details of everybody's email, mobile phone, text, and Web use after being warned of problems with privacy as well as technical feasibility and high costs." Four hours before the above Guardian story was filed, the BBC reported that the same Home Office insisted that it will push ahead with plans "to compel communication service providers to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of internet sources, from social networks through to chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games."
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In the UK, Big Brother Recedes and Advances

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  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:43AM (#30043806) Homepage

    It's not just the Brits, it's the whole EU. It's an EU regulation that pretty much all countries accepted.
    And it's for our protection, it's to stop terrorists. Erm... or what is to stop child pornography. Maybe it was to catch copyright infringes. Well, it was to stop something anyway, I think.
    Anyway, the people will be more safe.

  • by mrlarone ( 1288904 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:54AM (#30043856)
    it is time to abandon these islands .. you mean eject the prats surely!? preferably by cannon.
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @07:07AM (#30043908)

    Sadly, some of our compatriots do want it.

    Some of them have a mix of just enough racism, just enough respect for authority and just enough credulity to have really, heavily bought into the "terrorists are everywhere" line. They think anyone with dark skin of arab/persian or even indian descent is probably plotting to overthrow the state and/or perpetrate some mass murder like 9/11 or 7/7. The tabloids deliberately confuse them and conflate immigration (legal or otherwise), asylum and terrorism into one big boiling mess of "those dark skinned foreigners are just evil!".
    And so when the government tell them they are doing something, anything at all, they jump for joy. Criticism is taken as dangerous, subversive anti-patriotic and prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. They also tend to be the types that will immediately defend any action by the police because beating up defenceless protestors is somehow defending the public.

    This is not some sort of "those people" thing either, this cuts across social class and geography. Hell, I'm even related to some people like this.

    Now, before americans jump in here please remember that there's a big chunk of your population that think exactly the same way. They are often also the ones quickest to shout about loss of freedom when it comes to social programs.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @07:22AM (#30043970)
    "those dark skinned foreigners are just evil!"

    the problem, is that the islamic community needs to do more to out these factions. when these communities refuse to habor criminals who blow up buses, then we might actually get somewhere. take the london bombings, there's no way the people that made those bombs had their wives/family/friends/neighbours all fooled. someone close to them would have known something was going on, and could have pretended that attack.

    until you start seeing real rejection of this from islamic communities, you won't see any kind of understanding from the larger population.

  • by minasoko ( 710100 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @07:33AM (#30044020)
    Simply put, we don't want this.

    We already kill ourselves in large numbers each year using cars, tobacco, junk food and alcohol, without any help by religious extremists. They're not even going to make a dent.

    This proposed legislation has little to do with protection of the citizenry and more to do with making sure that those in power, remain in power.

  • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @07:47AM (#30044090)
    Funny thing, they're just celebrating the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall...
  • by skirtsteak_asshat ( 1622625 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:21AM (#30044242)
    Well, uh, as I understand it, the govt's have pretty substantial physical access at the telcos and ISP hubs. Rooms, in fact. It seems like it would take a big budget, yet be otherwise feasible for them to record _everything_ and dump it off. Later, using grid power and secret NSA hax, they can pick apart your encryption retroactively to get the details they need. If you were REALLY bothering them, they could then use that data to backdoor your box and read your DRIVE encryption. I'm sure they could probably have you on the list in under an hour. I mean, they have the budget, the mandate, the capability. Just because they say they're scrapping a program... doesn't mean it's not a redundant capability. Likely contracted it out. Did you think the military / NSA / CIA / XXX were all just a bunch of keystone cops, waiting for authorization to wiretap? It's just a matter of priority and focus. They're dealing with a pretty large data set, so you've got to be worth their while. I guess that's the comforting thought here... if you're not a truly bad guy, they are not likely to waste resources on you.
  • Two faced... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chilvence ( 1210312 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:21AM (#30044244)
    A normal society would completely reject the idea that it has to be continuously monitored for its own safety. If anything, this doublethink only weakens the UK. This is exactly the same thing that we openly criticise in other countries, only carefully differentiated so that the blanket definition doesn't stick. It's like saying 'our secret police are less secret and oppressive than everyone else's, so it doesn't count'. So is it right or isn't it? In this weakened state of mind where we don't know ourselves, the hypocrisy of it is totally open to attack...
  • by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:24AM (#30044258) Journal

    The budget for the snooping programme was allocated years ago, about £1bn ($1.6bn US) was made public - it was a nice small sounding figure, nothing heard of the scheme again for years. NOW there is an election looming where everything from lying about immigration to the politicians expenses claims have been leaked, they are claiming that the scheme is dead in the water, when the truth is anything but.

    If the spies deny it, it is safe to assume they are lying to placate people
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8032367.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    The UK's electronic intelligence agency has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement to deny it will track all UK internet and online phone use.

    Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) said it was developing tracking technology but "only acts when it is necessary" and "does not spy at will".

    Known as Deep Packet Inspection equipment, these probes will "steal" the data, analyse and decode the information and then route it direct to a government-run database.

    Or http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4882622.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

    Every call you make, every e-mail you send, every website you visit - I'll be watching you. That is the hope of Sir David Pepper who, as the director of GCHQ, the government's secret eavesdropping agency in Cheltenham, is plotting the biggest surveillance system ever created in Britain.

    The scope of the project - classified top secret - is said by officials to be so vast that it will dwarf the estimated £5 billion ministers have set aside for the identity cards programme. It is intended to fight terrorism and crime. Civil liberties groups, however, say it poses an unprecedented intrusion into ordinary citizens' lives.

    Aimed at placing a "live tap" on every electronic communication in Britain, it will dwarf other "big brother" surveillance projects such as the number plate recognition system and the spread of CCTV.

    I will say that the politicians here like to say "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". Strangely they don't subscribe to this maxim when you are looking into their criminal expenses claims, or government documents that are deeply embarrassing to the current government that were claimed to not exist - but exist, they just didn't want to release them. The UK police don't like the rise of photo and video cameras showing their abuses of the law, so the current corrupt UK government passes a law where is it's crime to photo / record a police officer. http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=839141 [bjp-online.com]

  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:25AM (#30044262) Homepage Journal

    No, its dictatorship, not communism. East Germany happened to be a communist dictatorship., but there are plenty of the other kinds

  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:28AM (#30044282) Homepage Journal

    Bombers are not sheltered by communities, they may be sheltered by one or two people very close to them.

    It is like claiming that fascist bombers are being sheltered by the white community (there has been one who actually platned bomds, and other who were planning to until caught in Britain).

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:36AM (#30044322)
    The term "thought police" comes from Orwell's "1984", set in what "had once been called England or Britain", so it makes sense that it's happening here. And according to Orwell, "1984" was a criticism of the perversions of communism and fascism. Interesting that you pick up on the extreme left but not the extreme right...
  • Re:More jobs! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:45AM (#30044390)
    3/10. No. You can have as many shotguns and rifles as you want, just no hand guns. And if you go up against the cops with just a hand gun, you're not making a stand but an easy target.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:47AM (#30044398) Homepage Journal

    They can crack one strong crypt in a week or a thousand weak crypts in a minute.

    But they can't break a 50 million various grade crypts in realtime, and that's what they need. They are barely capable of monitoring that amount of plaintext.

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:48AM (#30044412) Journal

    See that's a perfect summary of why I haven't watched Panorama in ages. It's become more and more like the US style of hypermentary: Tell the audience what you're going to tell them. Tell them they should be afraid / excited / awestruck. Play some bass noise. Talk in a Really. Slow. Earnest. Voice. Tell them what you're telling them. Tell them what you've told them. End forty minutes of drawn out information.

    Honestly, I would prefer a nice tidy sequence of events and some more in-depth looks at the interesting parts. But I guess my aim is to get information and their target audience is those trying to fill their life with "entertainment". But I do miss being talked to like an intelligent human being.
  • by arethuza ( 737069 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:01AM (#30044476)
    Politics is circular - the actions once in power of the extreme right and the extreme left are identical. The only difference has been the lies they tell in order to get into power.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:11AM (#30044528)

    Typical liberal trying to defend communism, by pretending the dark ages of communism in ~10 different countries never happened. The experiment with communism was tried; it failed. It's a flawed system that is doomed to turn away from its intended goal (freedom) toward tyranny.

    While I agree that communism has definitely failed, you seem to be missing the point. The GP isn't defending communism. He (correctly) points out that the same tools are also used in other dictatorships. Several fascist states used very similar tactics and they were definitely not communist. This type of government plans needs to be opposed, no matter the ideology they're using to justify their actions.

  • by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:11AM (#30044530) Journal

    Neither word is useful in describing the twisted new regime in Britain. They are not communists or dictators, but they are tyrannical opressive big government types.

    Orwell envisioned them as socialists, but socialism run amok doesn't explain it all. It's capitalism running amok alogside that Orwell missed.

  • So what your are saying is that the actions of my neighbour reflect on me. That sounds like guilt by loose association, which is one of the arguments used for the culture of citizens spying on and reporting each other in 1984.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:50AM (#30044836) Journal

    >>>No, its dictatorship, not communism. East Germany happened to be a communist dictatorship

    Oh sorry.

    Maybe we ought to try Communism here in the US, UK, and EU? This time without the dictatorship aspect. What do you think?

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:26AM (#30045200) Journal

    You make a good point. I was reading about Romania's dictator and his wife. He was not terribly bright, and his wife was a peasant who dropped-out of school in 4th grade. She used her power to force people to write research papers, and put her name on them, but she was dumb as a doorknob.

    It seems government attracts the not-so-bright to positions of power.

  • by muntis ( 1503471 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @11:42AM (#30046180)

    No, its dictatorship, not communism. East Germany happened to be a communist dictatorship., but there are plenty of the other kinds

    Name one please. To my understanding there is no any communist regime that is not dictatorship for one simple reason, communism is against human nature. You cant force people to give up their material values only by reasoning with them. On other hand grandparent is wrong too. you can have dictatorship without communism. Take a look on modern Russia for example.

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @11:43AM (#30046196) Journal

    to stop child pornography. Maybe it was to catch copyright infringes

    Yes, we must stop the digital copying of child pornography, because it will lead to an explosion in child pornography production.

    And we must stop the digital copying of Hollywood movies, because it will lead to the cessation of Hollywood movie production.

    Wait ... what?

I've got a bad feeling about this.