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Communications Privacy United Kingdom

UK To Track All Browsing, Email, and Phone Calls 286

Sara Chan writes "The UK government plans to introduce legislation that will allow the police to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public. The information will include who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages. Every communications provider will be required to store the information for at least a year."
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UK To Track All Browsing, Email, and Phone Calls

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  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:00PM (#33966376) Homepage

    Umm, you realize that there's the word "American" in the ACLU's name, right? I can imagine British groups like this one [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk] are not at all happy with either of these situations.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:00PM (#33966378) Journal

    All politicians will have to register all their communication devices, email addresses, phone numbers, and then make the list of all communication (not the content) available to the public.

    Who watches the watchers?

    We have met the enemy, and it is us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:01PM (#33966396)

    Elsewhere in news: massive increase in the user base of TOR and I2P predicted. :P

  • Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:01PM (#33966402)

    Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

  • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:02PM (#33966414)

    I guess the ACLU was unsuccessful in setting up a branch office.

    The same thing is going to happen in the US, ACLU or not. The bills are already written. They are just waiting for another 9/11 to they can ram them through.

  • Seems like Fiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VoiceInTheDesert ( 1613565 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#33966426)
    This really reads like something out of fiction. I did not think I'd see the day of such a government, but here I am at 22 years old and already, a modern, 1st world country is to the point where it feels the need and justification to monitor every action of it's populace. The precedent here is staggering, terrifying and morally bankrupt. The possibility for abuse here is strong to the point of certainty. I pray this never makes it to a country I call home.
  • by fuyu-no-neko ( 839858 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#33966434)

    How about: *Proposal* in UK To Track All Browsing, Email, and Phone Calls?

    I guess it depends how cynical you are about the law-making process. Whilst I'm yet to make my mind up on the current government, I can definitely see why some people make the jump to thinking that this is as good as done. It's not as if the previous government particularly cared about our rights after all.

  • by Nihn ( 1863500 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:10PM (#33966536)
    Well at lest they will be an absolute monarchy now. Citizens do not deserve privacy nor rights for they are the tools of the rich and powerful. No matter who is "elected" the corruption is with the system not who partakes in it. As long as certain groups of people who have a military force ready to open fire upon those they "rule" over this world is just gonna get more cramp, more violent, more unappealing, and if the past 30 years have taught me anything our future if gonna be WAY worse than anyone can possible imagine....remember when water came out of the tap clean pure and free? I do.... a bit apocalyptic maybe but 2 + 2 isn't that hard to figure out....
  • by shoutingloudly ( 986897 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:13PM (#33966564) Homepage Journal
    The implicit assumption here is that, as long as Big Brother doesn't see the content of the messages, there's nothing to worry about. Of course that's total bullocks. The AOL search data scandal of 2006 shows that one's search history alone can reveal far, far more about a person than an unwarranted government search should be able to see. Amp that up to a list of every site visit, plus everyone I email, call, or text, and this represents the government demanding the right to dig very deep into Brits' communication.

    I hope Britons go ballistic in opposition to this proposal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:25PM (#33966692)

    How about: *Proposal* in UK To Track All Browsing, Email, and Phone Calls?

    Let me put it another way: When's the last time you saw a *Proposal* to stop tracking browsing, email, and phone calls, because free countries ought not to place their citizens, insofar as there is no reasonable suspicion that they're committing any crimes whatsoever, under surveillance? (Or even a simple nationalistic argument: "...on the grounds that nations governed under the opposing principles turned into the states against whom we had to fight during WW2 and the Cold War.")

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:33PM (#33966780)

    How about: *Proposal* in UK To Track All Browsing, Email, and Phone Calls?

    Not even a proposal. It's speculation that there might be a proposal. If you read the actual quote from the defence review from the article, it more or less says: 'we need to upgrade lawful intercept capabilities to help fight terrorism'.

    Now OK, there may be some civil liberties issues with what the government eventually comes up with. But there is a difference between being worried and making shit up, and this article has crossed that line.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:36PM (#33966806)

    "The difference between these parties is as small as it formerly was in Germany. You know them, of course - the old parties. They were always one and the same. " --- Adolf Hitlet

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It doesn't matter if you call yourself "liberal" or "conservative" - the game is over, and you have already been bought and sold. Enjoy your vote, for the consolation it gives you.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:36PM (#33966812) Homepage

    Why bother with a law when they can just do it illegally and have politicians of both major parties defending them?

  • so true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dlt074 ( 548126 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:40PM (#33966860)

    how right you are. in spite of the troll mod i'm going to get and the karma hit... the more they do stuff like this, the more guns and ammo i buy. bottom line, eventually it comes down to boots on the ground and who's willing to kill or more importantly die for what they believe in. a lot of people will kill for this kind of totalitarian crap. however, most won't want to die for it. i have faith that eventually America will see the light and embrace individual liberty and personal responsibility again and limit this 1984 nonsense to the europeans where it belongs.

  • by Interoperable ( 1651953 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:54PM (#33966984)
    I'm surprised that the US doesn't already have data retention laws. It still doesn't change a lot. Phone companies and ISPs already keep logs and police routinely subpoena them. This proposal isn't as dire as the summary title makes it seem; logs of who you talk to (which IP you connect to) are already kept for a long time. A more useful law would be one that places a maximum time on the retention period, not a minimum.
  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @06:26PM (#33967334)

    And moving to encrypted VOIP obviously, though I don't know if they can still track who you are calling in that case.

    Would not help. VOIP usually uses SIP to establish a call (source and destination), and then RTP to stream the media for the voice (content). Encryption is not going to conceal the source and destination in a SIP call and will only protect the content. Even if you were to wrap the whole thing in IPSec, you would still not be concealing the source and destination since either SIP or IPSec would largely be irrelevant since the IP packets themselves contain the source and destination.

    What the government wants is the source and destination according to the article. The ISPs are responsible for this so it would not be terribly difficult, although expensive, to monitor all traffic for those SIP handshakes and then create a database. Even VPN tunnels would be recorded as well and probably stand out because that traffic is inherently encrypted.

    Unless you have a direct point-to-point SIP call, encryption is useless. You need to wait for ZRTP encryption which is endpoint-to-endpoint. Devices and software that support that will still use SIP to establish the call, but regardless of how many different media servers are involved (Asterisk as an example), the call would be encrypted and recordings would be useless. This is also why it is not that attractive to most people setting up private VOIP networks for business since call recordings would be more difficult with ZRTP and are usually required in a call center.

    Most VOIP calls are not point-to-point SIP, but SIP being ultimately routed to PSTN. In the US at least that would make it nearly impossible to hide the source and destination since they would be using ANI and not Caller ID for billing. I am not sure what the analog in the UK is for ANI. Even if you encrypt the SIP portion of the traffic the other end on a regular telephone number is not, so once again largely useless.

    Making a truly secure phone call is pretty difficult already, and making it anonymous is next to impossible with 3rd parties involved, or without compromising someone else's networks to hide your traffic inside them.

    Freenet, TOR, and other forms of darknets are not well suited to VOIP traffic which requires low latencies to operate. So anonymity, provided through reasonable doubt, will not work unless these networks become far more prolific and a little more advanced. Imagine some guys laptop running a TOR node while he is on wireless Internet. Might as well route your VOIP traffic around the Moon and back. If Darknets are going to support low latency traffic then they have to develop a QoS model that nodes could process and eliminate high-latency nodes from being considered when choosing a route.

    The UK is fucked period. I would imagine even if you guys had 100% residential participation in a darknet that the UK government would throw you in jail if you did not hand over the encryption keys to traffic they acknowledge you are not even responsible for creating, but are providing for as an ersatz ISP. One way or the other, the UK will make darknets illegal too, and then you guys have nothing.

    My best suggestion for people in the UK is to get out now before they erect the wall to keep you in.

  • Re:so true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @06:38PM (#33967514)

    It's so nice to see the lunatics on the far-right agreeing with the lunatics on the far-left. Really makes one hopeful about the future.

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @06:58PM (#33967760)

    These plans represent job security for civil servants. They mean bigger budgets, bigger offices, higher salaries, more staff.
    Congrats, you've just discovered "the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy".

  • Worthless, my ass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:36PM (#33968158) Homepage Journal

    Encryption of your files is worthless when you can be arrested for failing to give up passwords as per the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

    WTF are you talking about? Let's say you've got naughty pictures of your wife, a few commercial trade secrets, a spell for summoning Yog-Sothoth, and your bank account passphrases all stored on your laptop, encrypted. One day, the drive electronics (but not the platters) fails and you RMA it to Western Digital, install the replacement, and restore your backup. A few weeks later, someone steals your laptop. You're saying it's worthless to prevent both Western Digital and the laptop thief from having your information, because the government has the power to arrest you? You do realize, don't you, that RIPA actually only gives powers to the government (not everyone), right? RIPA doesn't say you have to give keys to just anyone who demands them or else face arrest.

    And as meerling points out, encryption also gives you a lot of protection from the government too. Let's say it was the government who took your laptop. Maybe they even imaged the disk and then returned it to your house without you ever knowing. Without encryption, your privacy has been violated and since you don't know it happened, you have NO recourse. With encryption, even with RIPA (!), they forcefully coerce the key from you. Now you know you're under attack, you probably give them the key, then you call your solicitor (or do whatever it is that UK people do when they have conflict with their government).

    RIPA or not, you've gotta be just plain negligent, to not encrypt. Use 5% of one of your 6 cores for something, geeze.

  • by rlglende ( 70123 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:44PM (#33968252)

    Socially liberal, very strong on individual rights, very strong on limited government.

    Some embrace anarchy.

    'Lunatics' we are not : this was the position of people like Jefferson, for the most part.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:55PM (#33968358)

    The strong Libertarian position is anarchy for the powerful. Just enough government to protect the interests of the powerful, and enough liberty for justice to be available only to the rich. And that certainly wasn't a Jeffersonian position. I wish people wouldn't trot out some famous name to support whatever crazy notion they have in mind.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:58PM (#33968378)

    Just wait until they add license plate recognition to those cameras.

    Here in the States, I could imagine something similar being hooked up and defended on the grounds that 'you don't have privacy when you travel on public roads'.

    Or some other bullshit.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:59PM (#33968384) Journal
    I'm surprised that the US doesn't already have data retention laws.
    The NSA, DIA, FBI, state taskforces all get to seek files of interest eg p2p, voice prints, images with unique known id's.
    The US sucks it all up. They just dont want the herd thinking about it as they use the net, so keep the fact very low on the talking points.
    The change in the UK is from sealed courts for spies or cases changed so no mention of intercepts would reach the press to a more direct idea.
    The UK is now getting to the point where Linux and datamining on fast US hardware is ready for open court.
  • by melikamp ( 631205 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:45PM (#33969150) Homepage Journal

    I just wonder, is this that big of a problem? Connection anonymity, I mean? I don't think it was in the Internet's design, but I could easily be wrong. IMHO, being able to use free hardware/software to encrypt our calls point-to-point is way more important, as that would make the audio tap very expensive, just as it should be. They would literally have to outlaw connecting to the Internet with a free device, or go back to the good old ways [coloribus.com].

  • Re:so true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vegiVamp ( 518171 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:55AM (#33970930) Homepage
    Where it belongs ? You lot are the ones who ramped it up following the 9/11 attack resulting in what is, objectively, a minor number of victims. It was a tragedy, don't misunderstand me, but there's a lot more victims in traffic every year. The whole terrorist thing has been wildly overreacted to, to the point that you, yourselves have made the terrorists succesful: you've allowed not only your own country, but the entire world to become terrorized.
  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:00AM (#33970954)

    Because passing a law permitting it tells your whole populace that they are being watched where they previously thought they had privacy.

    Secretly watching people is all well and good, but only the paranoid and observant know it's happening. If you come right out and TELL everyone, then they all know that they are being watched - even when they are not - and will regulate their behaviour accordingly. This is much cheaper than hiring real policemen - instead, every citizen becomes his own policeman. Then you can get back to worrying about the real risk - subversives and freethinkers.

  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:24AM (#33971068) Homepage

    Actually, historically that's not the case; it's only been the last 10 years, where Labour decided that the only way they were every going to get elected again after they so thoroughly ruined the economy in the late 70's was to parrot all the Conservative policies without actually being the Conservatives - i.e. "New Labour". Prior to that (and possibly going forward, depending on how Ed decides to direct the party), they were very much a socialist movement and clearly to the left of British politics. Of course, in order to counter New Labour, the Conservatives have been slowly moving themselves closer to the centre anyway, but if Labour rebound back to the left then the Conservatives might decide it's no longer necessary and move back to the right again.

    The Lib Dems have always mixed the rational with the impractical, but have never had to worry about it before because there was never any chance of them getting into power; now that they actually are (at least partially) in government, they're having to make loads of compromises because many of their election promises can't be reasonably implemented even if the Conservatives agreed with them.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:56AM (#33971246)
    You forget that "... to stop terrorism" is the equivalent of "sudo".

    You also forget that before the election, every party lies through their teeth to get into power. It's expected.
  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:01AM (#33971536) Journal

    Here in the States, I could imagine something similar being hooked up and defended on the grounds that 'you don't have privacy when you travel on public roads'.

    That would probably because you don't have privacy when you travel on public roads.

    If you're driving along buggering a goat while smoking crack and the police see you, they will stop you and arrest you. You're not in your own home, you are in public.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.