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Government proposes internet snooping laws

Government proposes internet snooping laws

Privacy may become a thing of the past if the government's plans for a warrantless internet snooping systems go ahead.

The government has come under fire as a result of proposed legislation which would allow it to monitor all electronic communications of UK citizens without a warrant.

Due to be formally unveiled during the Queen's Speech next month, the legislation provides the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) signals intelligence service with the right to monitor all electronic communications activities within the UK.

Under the terms of the legislation, the content of such communications would be stored but theoretically inaccessible without a court-issued warrant. Fine-grained details, including the recipient or sender of text messages or emails, the length of phone calls, the frequency of calls to selected numbers, and a full list of websites visited would, however, be fully accessible at all times without the need for a warrant.

Government officials are downplaying the extent of the legal shift, claiming that such monitoring is necessary in order to keep the populace safe from the spectre of terrorism. 'It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes,' a Home Office spokesperson explained in a statement to press.

'Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications,' the spokesperson added.

The proposed monitoring legislation echoes that suggested by the previous Labour government back in 2006, which looked to establish a database recording the details - but not the contents - of all phone calls and emails made or received within the UK. That legislation failed to pass following strong opposition, however - opposition from the self-same political parties now proposing an even more Orwellian monitoring scheme.

Privacy activists are, naturally, up in arms regarding the change. 'Of course the security services should be able to get a warrant to monitor genuine suspects,' said Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group. 'But blanket collection, without suspicion, or powers to compel companies to hand over data on the say-so of a police officer would be very wrong. The saga of complicity between senior police officers and Murdoch's journalists should tell us how vulnerable people's privacy can be. The government should stand by the commitments both parties made before the election to protect our privacy.'

'This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran. This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant
costs to internet businesses,
' added Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch. 'If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?'

Should the coalition government pass the law, we confidently predict rapid growth in the lucrative business of off-shore encrypted VPN tunnels and similar technologies, which would protect communications from government snooping.

40 Comments

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Landy_Ed 2nd April 2012, 13:48 Quote
"Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications". Really? then why is it that one of the tech tests for MI5 is to reconstruct a network packet containing a couple of emails with a password & a zipfile containing data?

Personally I have no issue with the idea that the authorities want to know who I'm talking to, all I see here is that the services don't want to be seen to continue to lie about it. Perhaps Nick Pickles is naive enough to think that power, ability and intent all mean the same thing.
west 2nd April 2012, 13:50 Quote
"such monitoring is necessary in order to keep the populace safe from the spectre of terrorism"
As if they would have trouble getting a warrant from a judge for something like that, I don't think so.

The UK will join the US (Patriot Act) in being able to snoop in on it's citizens without a warrant.

LAME.
Petrol head 2nd April 2012, 14:02 Quote
There is a good example though of why our government will never work.

The same people that opposed the decision before and now puting it forward. They care not for what keeps us safe or what is right.

Just getting one over the oppostion.
Vo0Ds 2nd April 2012, 14:04 Quote
Coming soon to a Hacktivist website near you...
Ayrto 2nd April 2012, 14:04 Quote
And it's rumoured they're on about making ISPs pay for it , so you could have pay for this attack on civil liberties in the form of higher bills.
€gr€s 2nd April 2012, 14:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landy_Ed

......Personally I have no issue with the idea that the authorities want to know who I'm talking to, ......

You're kidding, right?
Woodspoon 2nd April 2012, 14:15 Quote
April 1st was yesterday wasn't it?

Otherwise, do not want, do not want so much it's untrue.
Cerberus90 2nd April 2012, 14:15 Quote
Please tell me this is a late April Fools article? :D :D

This crap about protecting us from terrorists is getting old now. I bet they wouldn't scrap the system when the next terrorist attack occurs, they'd just step it up even more, by banning the internet or something and blaming it on piracy. :D
gabe777 2nd April 2012, 14:19 Quote
Surely the real crims will just use SSL tunneling ? Doh ! Yet again, the measures only impact on the innocent.

SSL is available for less than £10 a month, and to access their logs DOES need a warrant - and if they ave any sense, they simply delete all logs daily.

Not rocket science, but we are talking about spies - people that lose laptops and don't have even the concept of encryption.
Anneon 2nd April 2012, 14:20 Quote
Further amendments to this bill are as follows
A service that allows the authorities to turn on a web cam that may be connected to someone "linked" with anything at all is demeed unsociable.
Further to this, if information is not satisfactory obtained from this inobrusive method, full access to a suspects camera phone shall be expected to be forthcomming.
A further warning in the form of a SMS shall be provided to inform the suspect to charge said phone should further information be required and sufficent power is unavailable for the duration of said required period. A non compliance to not charge said phone shall be a criminal offence.

wrong.
AcidJiles 2nd April 2012, 14:27 Quote
This has nothing to do with terrorism. Any terrorist who poses a real risk to uk will know not to use electronic communication and if they do with foreign email servers and draft letters rather than anything sent. This is just a way to monitor public protest and control internal disent.
thEcat 2nd April 2012, 15:11 Quote
It strikes me that once again the Gov. don't have a clue on such issues.

Want to send an email and avoid the to/from monitoring? Just connect to a foreign email server, standard html access, you don't even need encryption. Of course they'll know you've been to the web address but unless they are recording the data flow, which apparently they are not, they'll have no idea of your email address, who you're talking to or what you're saying.

With such a simple loophole, even considering this legislation is a total waste of time and money.
amirkomet 2nd April 2012, 15:48 Quote
Wow.... Okay! I guess its back to pen and paper for the terrorist then…
Ploo 2nd April 2012, 15:59 Quote
Does this concept make anyone else feel physically ill?

The terrorism excuse is such bullshit, I wish more people would see through it. Any organisation with the resources and motivation to pull off a terrorist attack will not make use of the internet in such a way that it risks compromise to the operation. So I guess 'terrorism' is just an excuse to take a step towards a totalitarian government.
Deders 2nd April 2012, 16:03 Quote
Fizzban 2nd April 2012, 16:41 Quote
That's outrageous! How would that level of snooping even be legal? Everyone has a right to privacy. Can't believe they are using the excuse of terrorism..that's such horse sh*t. They just want power over us.
fallenphoenix 2nd April 2012, 16:54 Quote
I was desperately hoping this was an April 1 related story :( From the US, where our civil liberties seem to continuously be under assault, I wish you the best in stamping out this absurd legislation and ousting whoever is responsible for introducing it.
javaman 2nd April 2012, 17:39 Quote
they've been doing this for years this is just them making it "legal". Guess that gives me the right to read every email sent by the government to see if they're doing their work properly and in my interest. only seems fair.
Riffler 2nd April 2012, 18:11 Quote
I suspect they leaked this on April 1 deliberately so many would dismiss it as an April Fools. It isn't.

The Tory government will have a list of everyone who visits the Labour Party website. Even if you're not politically active you have to be able to see the sinister potential behind that.

And as the Tory theft of the London Mayoral twitter account has shown, they can't help but abuse these things when the opportunity presents. Not to mention the abuse of previous "anti-terrorist" powers to snoop on dog-walkers and school applicants. The only way to prevent these powers from being abused is to prevent them being granted in the first place.
Tangster 2nd April 2012, 18:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deders
Petition:

http://action.openrightsgroup.org/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=1422&ea.campaign.id=8227

Public pressure has been successful in the past.
I've signed it. This proposal is ridiculous.
ev1lm1nd666 2nd April 2012, 20:35 Quote
The Government is standing at the top of a bloody slippery slope and are about to fall all the way down. The government berates countries like China and Iran for their "Police State" style governance but at the same time are turning our one great country into a wreck, a shadow of it's former self.

They appoint experts to carry out research, then ignore all the evidence because it doesn't fit their moronic view of what they think is right. I'm starting to believe that we could do with removing all the current politicians (one bullet each should do, don't want to waste money now, do we?) and install people who actually know what the hell they are talking about.
jimmyjj 2nd April 2012, 21:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apoca1yps0
http://action.openrightsgroup.org/ea...mpaign.id=8227

Signed.

ditto
Eldorado 2nd April 2012, 22:35 Quote
Ahh, Lobby cash payment's make's it's way into UK law... Welcome to America/UK/Euro
spolsh 2nd April 2012, 22:43 Quote
Well done tories ! (and unLib Dems) - It was wrong for the Govt to do this when Labour were in power, but it's just as wrong now. Usual "we oppose this bill" rubbish when in opposition, followed by, "We've had a wonderful idea to keep the whole country safe" when in power.

Over 13,000 have signed the openrightsgroup petition so far, it'll take the black helicopter squads a while to round all those up for a start.
John_T 2nd April 2012, 23:17 Quote
So now every single person in the country will be under constant suspicion of being 'guilty until proven innocent'. Wonderful. How to p*** all over 797 years of good English law with a glib statement and the flick of a pen.

Irony doesn't even begin to cover the way they seem to think that taking our freedom away and locking it in a vault is the best way to protect that freedom...

It's insidious, pure and simple.

If this does come to pass, I'll look forward to bit-tech's round-up of the best off-shore VPN tunnel services and the like.
Rustypouch 3rd April 2012, 00:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deders
Petition:

http://action.openrightsgroup.org/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=1422&ea.campaign.id=8227

Public pressure has been successful in the past.

Signed and shared. This is such Bull Sh. Why is everything highly intrusive these days deemed an act to stop terrorism? This is intimidation, for political purposes...the very definition of terrorism!
cgthomas 3rd April 2012, 00:43 Quote
I dare not speak out ... and that's serious for me ....
InSanCen 3rd April 2012, 00:57 Quote
I think this is appropriate at this point...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8de2W3rtZsA

Bunch of farking idiots. Not a clue, and will only impinge on minor or casual criminals. Anyone doing anything worthwhile catching sure as heel isn't going to be stopped by this farce.
badman_mo007 3rd April 2012, 01:29 Quote
This is so stupid! This needs the sort of publicity that SOPA got, and people need to get out show they don't agree with these sort of laws coming to pass. While people around the world are standing up to ruthless dictators in the hope of obtaining a smudge of freedom, we're sat here happily allowing government officials to steal the very privacy their ancestors worked so hard to set up.

petition Signed
DriftCarl 3rd April 2012, 09:48 Quote
This is no different to what china are doing with their internet.
Sure you can get the websites you want to, but now you are sharing everything you do with the government, who is made up of normal people just like you and I.
They say that it is to project us from terrorists. But the price of the protection is becoming increasingly high. Life would be boring if there were no risks involved. Now we are heading towards a pretty bad place. Where people dont live, they just exist.
PingCrosby 3rd April 2012, 10:14 Quote
What is life without a bit of risk and danger? I'm a biker and that is for me the last bit of true freedom around and they're trying their hardest to ban that. I couldn't really give a toss if they want to sit and spy on me perusing the net and seeing which sites I visit, what i look at and what I buy, I really couldn't care less. I'd feel really sorry for the person who has to do all that monitoring they'll be bored senseless, its only when they start interfering with what I look at and what I buy is when I'm not happy. Yeah yeah terrorism is a real threat, but hasn't it always been? They'll never stop it in this way thats for sure.
Landy_Ed 3rd April 2012, 11:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by €gr€s
You're kidding, right?

No, of course not. Read what I wrote, then think about the role of intelligence services.
Bindibadgi 3rd April 2012, 12:29 Quote
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17595209#TWEET120456

Basically, **** parliamentary process, discussion and representation. It's going ahead whatever. I honestly do wonder what UK democracy is.
IanW 3rd April 2012, 13:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17595209#TWEET120456

Basically, **** parliamentary process, discussion and representation. It's going ahead whatever. I honestly do wonder what UK democracy is.

It's "Yes, Prime Minister", but without a laugh track. :(
VipersGratitude 3rd April 2012, 14:35 Quote
In other news - Facebook is set to launch it's IPO in May and is rumoured to be valued at $100 billion.

Join the dots.
magicpixel 3rd April 2012, 18:36 Quote
Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Tynecider 6th April 2012, 13:56 Quote
I have no problem with the law being able to (when needed) gather electronic data on me (if needed)
Provided they have just cause and do so via the courts of justice.

Hang on.......isn't that what's in place now?
There is some 6 month law about data, which is an EU directive (if I'm not mistaken)


Sorry folks, this is a fleece that will eventually end up in wrong hands, unlawfully.
I believe this will open doors to interests that are not of good standing, And certainly not law abiding.
And for that reason, I'm against it.
It must be stopped.

PS - Here's a little ditty going out to our younger readers....
Quote:
I must've dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They're moving into the street

Now did you read the news today
They say the danger's gone away
But I can see the fire's still alight
They're burning into the night

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there's not much love to go around
Can't you see this is the land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in

Oh Superman where are you now
When everything's gone wrong somehow
The men of steel, these men of power
Are losing control by the hour

This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future
But there's not much love to go around
Tell me why this is the land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in

I remember long ago
Oh when the sun was shining
And all the stars were bright all through the night
And wake up this madness as I held you tight
So long ago

I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
That we know we'll never keep

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there's not much love to go round
Can't you see this is the land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for

This is the world we live in
And these are the names we're given
Stand up and let's start showing
Just where our lives are going to

zU9lv_WqK6k

And a worthy cover of the above track....

u6KXgjLqSTg
BLC 10th April 2012, 12:39 Quote
I'm with Landy_Ed on this one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landy_Ed
"Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications". Really? then why is it that one of the tech tests for MI5 is to reconstruct a network packet containing a couple of emails with a password & a zipfile containing data?

Personally I have no issue with the idea that the authorities want to know who I'm talking to, all I see here is that the services don't want to be seen to continue to lie about it. Perhaps Nick Pickles is naive enough to think that power, ability and intent all mean the same thing.

Just think about what GCHQ's current mandate is... Taken from Wikipedia:
Quote:
GCHQ gains its intelligence by monitoring a wide variety of communications and other electronic signals.

And this, taken from a recruitment website, summarising the role of GCHQ:
Quote:
GCHQ is charged with protecting the UK’s national interests. Its work falls into two categories:
  • Signals intelligence (SIGINT), which involves monitoring ‘signals’ traffic, ranging from telephone conversations to complex data transmitted via the internet.
  • Information assurance (IA), which is the protection of government data and information. This is administered by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), an organisation within GCHQ.

The second site may not be as reliable a source, but it does serve to illustrate my point: GCHQ is the home of this country's intelligence gathering operations. Therefore, they must already be monitoring communications. GCHQ was formerly the Government Codes & Ciphers School (GC&CS), which was based at Bletchley Park during WWII. The very same organisation which broke enemy encryption schemes, monitored communications and on D-Day knew the location of all except two of the 58 German divisions on the Western Front. And that was nearly 70 years ago...

It was only in the mid-70's that the world first started to learn just how much Bletchley Park knew during the war, and even now many former staff still feel bound to remain silent. You'd be fooling yourself if you think that "intelligence gathering" operations today do not include the need to monitor domestic communications. *Every* developed nation is gathering intelligence on each other, make no mistake about that, and that will include the need to monitor domestic communications - "enemy" agents don't just operate in their own countries.

That's not to say that I don't think that the appropriate protections or accountabilities should be in place; all I'm saying is that this is probably already happening to at least a small proportion of innocent people.
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