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Proposed UK Communications Law Could Be Used To Spy On Physical Mail 125

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that the UK's Draft Communications Bill includes a provision which could be used to force the Royal Mail and other mail carriers to retain data on all physical mail passing through their networks. The law could be used to force carriers to maintain a database of any data written on the outside of an envelope or package which could be accessed by government bodies at will. Such data could include sender, recipient and type of mail (and, consequentially, the entire contents of a postcard). It would provide a physical analog of the recently proposed internet surveillance laws. The Home Office claims that it has no current plans to enforce the law."
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Proposed UK Communications Law Could Be Used To Spy On Physical Mail

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  • by Air-conditioned cowh ( 552882 ) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @03:55PM (#40353647)
    "The Home Office claims that it has no current plans to enforce the law." Similar assurances were made to the jews by the Nazi party when they were encircling them with laws in the 1930s.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2012 @03:58PM (#40353673)
    (1) Political apathy
    (2) "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear"
    (3)People seem to believe that there's a terrorist on every street and a pedo under every bed.
  • Re:Be very afraid... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @04:12PM (#40353759) Homepage

    Ah, but that's a petition to "Scrap Plans to Monitor all Emails and Web Usage". If they only monitor 99.999% of them they can still say they accepted the petition. :)

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @05:07PM (#40354137)

    I've noticed that the left always go crazy when the working class vote conservative because people who actually work for a living know that most 'progressive' policies are just a means for the middle class to give their kids well-paid government jobs to tell everyone else what to do. The working class are naturally conservative, which is why the left have done their best to destroy working class culture and turn them into the welfare class, who will keep voting themselves more free stuff.

  • Re:Be very afraid... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frostilicus2 ( 889524 ) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @05:16PM (#40354225)
    It's amusing that an influential person like (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee can make a statements such as this: [] in the national press and the population don't even blink...
  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Sunday June 17, 2012 @05:22PM (#40354283) Homepage

    Greetings from post WWII Europe and East Germany. Where the STASI did exactly this, and neighbors spied on each other. I wonder how long before the underground springs up and things start getting smuggled around? Well I'm sure there's a few ex-east germans who would be more than willing to give the Brit's tips on how to do it.

  • by manicb ( 1633645 ) on Sunday June 17, 2012 @05:34PM (#40354375)

    We didn't vote for it, and we actually voted against it. None of this stuff was in the manifesto of either of the parties in the ruling coalition. They were highly critical of similar legislation when proposed by their opponents, who were turfed out in the last general election. We've had such a long run of crazy authoritarian Home Secretaries now that it's pretty clear somebody or something is getting to them, possibly through their office (or bedroom) window.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2012 @11:45PM (#40356323)

    I finally found an acceptable solution for this. I have three types of encrypted file containers:

    Type 1: That for which is worth giving the key to authorities or under limited circumstances is worth unlocking.
    Type 2: That to which if my computer is compromised I accept as permanently lost.

    Documents and files in type 1 include things like my bank statements, financial records, and other information which frankly anyone with sufficient power or authority can obtain if they absolutely have to

    Documents and files in type 2 include that to which I don't want anyone else seeing ever. This includes my IP (which I can hopefully recreate), any photographs and other things I have taken, including holidays, family related etc, any absolutely anything for which in any context could cost me money if someone decided to be a dick about it (includes my legal backups of DVDs I own, legal backups of CDs, etc).

    I am at the point where I can pull a hard drive out, put it in an appropriate container, and ship it across the country with minimal concern.

    Now, those keys. For type 1 I have an algorithm. Pass phrase length and character sets used means that no one will be guessing or cracking it any time soon. The idea here is cost benefit.. their cost of getting into what is not theirs.

    For type 2 the same, with one special difference. The password is on my fridge, in various places. Yes, today you can find the whole pass phrase for type 2 on my fridge - assuming that you know where to look and in what order to use the characters you find there.

    I figure that if my door is bashed down, my stuff is confiscated and I am embroiled in a shakedown then eventually I will lose the place, and eventually the fridge will be gone. It is about then I will inform whomever is demanding my keys that they can have the key any time they like: It is written in plain text *on my fridge*.

    Of course, next Sunday I will be picking another random object somewhere in the house and writing characters on it.. perhaps behind the large picture above the lounge.

    I am not a lawyer but I believe that if they make a law stating that you must hand over your keys.. it can't state that they key is not indestructible nor can it state that if their actions destroy the key that you are accountable.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.