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Government under fire over Draft Communications Data Bill

Government under fire over Draft Communications Data Bill

The government has come under fire for its proposed Communications Data Bill, described by its opponents as a "snooper's charter."

The government has come under fire following the publication of the Draft Communication Data Bill, labelled by its opponents as an intrusive and draconian piece of ill-thought-out legislation.

Under the terms of the Draft Communications Data Bill, internet service providers (ISPs) would be forced to hand over information on the recipients and senders of all emails transferred via their servers - but not, the government is keen to point out, the content of the email, which is protected until a court order is obtained demanding its release - along with a list of all websites visited by their customers.

The Bill, naturally, is being spun as a protective measure designed to enhance the safety of the nation's populace. 'Communications data saves lives. It is a vital tool for the police to catch criminals and to protect children,' claimed home secretary Theresa May - pulling out, you'll note, the classic 'think of the children' defence. 'If we stand by as technology changes, we will leave police officers fighting crime with one hand tied behind their backs. Checking communication records, not content, is a crucial part of day-to-day policing and the fingerprinting of the modern age – we are determined to ensure its continued availability in cracking down crime.'

According to figures released by the government, the cost of implementing the Bill should the draft proposal be accepted will reach as high as £1.8 billion over the next ten years - money that is to come directly from public coffers, at a time when the country is still recovering from the financial slump of recent years and forking out billions to fund the hosting of the Olympic Games.

That figure, the government claims in further defence of the Bill, will be dwarfed by a raft of 'benefits' totalling between £5 billion and £6.2 billion over the same period. 'The largest category of benefits are direct financial benefits,' the draft version of the Bill claims, 'arising mainly from preventing revenue loss through tax fraud and facilitating the seizure of criminal assets.'

Andy Halsall, campaigns officer of the pro-privacy Pirate Party, has dubbed the bill 'a snooper's charter.' In a statement released to coincide with the Draft Communications Data Bill, Halsall claimed: 'The Pirate Party is committed to civil liberties and the protection of personal information online - it does not support the arbitrary wiretapping of an entire nation. At one time it seemed the coalition felt the same. Their Coalition agreement included statements that: 'We will introduce safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation; We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason.''

'Those promises appear to not be worth the paper they were written on, Halsall claimed, 'and we now face a huge threat in the form of the CDB.'

Even within their own respective parties, the coalition is finding resistance to its plans to monitor communications traffic. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, senior Tory David Davis described the Bill's proposals as 'incredibly intrusive' and questioned its efficacy, claiming that it would only 'catch the innocent and incompetent.'

If you want to make up your own mind on the matter, the full Draft Communications Bill CM 8395 - to give it its official title - can be downloaded from the government's official documents server in PDF format

24 Comments

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law99 15th June 2012, 12:05 Quote
TOR says hello.What are they going to do with encrypted services? Ban them?
Dave Lister 15th June 2012, 12:42 Quote
They can already access peoples email and other electronic info. The reason the bill is being put forward is so they can lock more innocent people away on " terrorist charges" while appearing to do everything by the book. At the moment any data they take a gander at can not be used in court because it was obtained illegally.
law99 15th June 2012, 13:57 Quote
It is a total blag. Anyone who wants to circumvent this can within minutes of research.
CarlT2001 15th June 2012, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
They can already access peoples email and other electronic info. The reason the bill is being put forward is so they can lock more innocent people away on " terrorist charges" while appearing to do everything by the book. At the moment any data they take a gander at can not be used in court because it was obtained illegally.

Do you have any examples of innocent people that actually have been imprisoned?
specofdust 15th June 2012, 14:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
TOR says hello.What are they going to do with encrypted services? Ban them?

Most likely. It's already illegal in this country not to disclose a password to government representatives, and you get 2 years in the clink for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
Do you have any examples of innocent people that actually have been imprisoned?

All who go to jail are guilty. The issue is, what is to be a crime?
Dave Lister 15th June 2012, 14:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
They can already access peoples email and other electronic info. The reason the bill is being put forward is so they can lock more innocent people away on " terrorist charges" while appearing to do everything by the book. At the moment any data they take a gander at can not be used in court because it was obtained illegally.

Do you have any examples of innocent people that actually have been imprisoned?

There are loads of examples out there but off the top of my head no. But take for example the case of the guy who hacked some american government agency just trying to find out if aliens were real, he was imprisoned then sent to the US to do more time. Technically that was against the law, but he should NOT be doing time for it, just because he was curious.

Julian Assange has been under house arrest for over 500 days now without charge for not even breaking any laws, I realize that is in america but every country wants a bit of him including the UK.

If you don't think anything underhanded ever goes on in government you must be very naive. They are like wolfs who will destroy anyone or anything that isn't one of the pack.
Unicorn 15th June 2012, 15:03 Quote
Like many controversial issues in life, I can see where they're coming from and where the sense is in it, but I'm completely opposed to it. I just don't agree with it on a "respect my privacy" level at all. I don't want my communications data to be monitored by anyone, never mind the British government. This is one more step closer to UK Internet users being as restricted as they would be if they lived in China. It reminds me of the US government surveillance bill that was the subject of "Enemy of the State". Anything that is potentially going to be introduced into law here in the UK that reminds me of something I saw in an American film is a bad sign!
Laitainion 15th June 2012, 15:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
TOR says hello.What are they going to do with encrypted services? Ban them?

Most likely. It's already illegal in this country not to disclose a password to government representatives, and you get 2 years in the clink for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
Do you have any examples of innocent people that actually have been imprisoned?

All who go to jail are guilty. The issue is, what is to be a crime?

Only if the Police have got a court order for a specific password for a specific encrypted volume/device/whatever. Otherwise you're fine.
law99 15th June 2012, 15:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
TOR says hello.What are they going to do with encrypted services? Ban them?

Most likely. It's already illegal in this country not to disclose a password to government representatives, and you get 2 years in the clink for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
Do you have any examples of innocent people that actually have been imprisoned?

All who go to jail are guilty. The issue is, what is to be a crime?

Perhaps we should remove all security certs from our computers and just dial up all our info for preliminary examinations now?

Will they ban MS from shipping them in updates? What are they trying to achieve? I honestly think this bill is either formed from ignorance or deceit.

Let me get something straight here... I don't care whether my data gets chucked around or not. As long as I am not effected I am happy enough. I don't mind google remembering what I've searched for or websites making cookies... I just don't care. I do care that they want to mandate lies or stupidity.
specofdust 15th June 2012, 15:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laitainion
Only if the Police have got a court order for a specific password for a specific encrypted volume/device/whatever. Otherwise you're fine.

They don't need it. Chiefs of police, HMRC commissioners, Brigadiers (and above, or equivalent) can also authorise a section 49 notice. So essentially the police can authorise it themselves.
Hardware150 15th June 2012, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
There are loads of examples out there but off the top of my head no. But take for example the case of the guy who hacked some american government agency just trying to find out if aliens were real, he was imprisoned then sent to the US to do more time. Technically that was against the law, but he should NOT be doing time for it, just because he was curious.

Julian Assange has been under house arrest for over 500 days now without charge for not even breaking any laws, I realize that is in america but every country wants a bit of him including the UK.

If you don't think anything underhanded ever goes on in government you must be very naive. They are like wolfs who will destroy anyone or anything that isn't one of the pack.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon if you're talking about him, then he's still fighting extradition. As for Julian Assange, last I heard he was fighting extradition to Sweden where he faces changes of rape, and is currently in England not America (although the Americans want him for other things).
RichCreedy 15th June 2012, 21:21 Quote
he said he was curious, they say he did damage to their system, and was deleting files, the problem we face with that case, is we only know what the press have released, he says he didn't, the us government say he did.

julian assange on the other hand, released leaked government secret files, someone else claims to have been raped by him, is all this a conspiracy, who knows, but there is no smoke without fire.
yougotkicked 15th June 2012, 21:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
Will they ban MS from shipping them in updates? What are they trying to achieve? I honestly think this bill is either formed from ignorance or deceit.

That's just it, ignorance. Obviously they have some consultants and experts help while working out the technical bits, but the politicians who grandstand about "protecting the children" and claim spending billions to wire-tap private citizens will somehow prevent tax fraud, have no idea what the technical requirements, or logistical benefits of such a bill would be.

It seems to me like some forensic accountant somewhere decided it would be neat to have a database of if/when certain email accounts communicated. Then a politician got a hold of the idea and wants to force ISP's to fundamentally alter the way email is sent and received in order to make that happen, with no conception of how expensive that would be, or how easy it will be to circumvent.
VipersGratitude 16th June 2012, 09:56 Quote
Don't worry folks. They don't want to read the contents of your communications, they just want to record who you're in contact, and how often. The government are just like that soft, cuddly company who, earlier this year, launched the largest tech IPO in history.

Yes, there's obviously value in such a social graph, but this is the government we're talking about and they're paid to look after our interests, not theirs! It's not as if they want to identify political influencers (those who are politically active with a large network of contacts) along with the politically influenced (those who reciprocate that communication, but are otherwise politically inactive).

What would be the point in that? They certainly wouldn't use this data to spin otherwise unpopular policies to appeal to those influencers, giving them more precise control over the impact of the party line, rather than just hope it appeals to a blanket demographic.

And I'm sure they wouldn't attempt to manipulate an ignorant Electoral Borders Committee (afterall, why would they need access to 'security' data?) because that would be an absolute perversion of the democratic system.

This is a well-considered bill is about security, not about marketing, misinformation, manipulation and spin. They simply want to protect us from terrorists, and our children from pedophiles.

God save the Queen.
jimmyjj 16th June 2012, 11:27 Quote
Read and take action if you will:


https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/privacy-petition
CarlT2001 16th June 2012, 11:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by VipersGratitude
This is a well-considered bill is about security, not about marketing, misinformation, manipulation and spin. They simply want to protect us from terrorists, and our children from pedophiles.God save the Queen.

+1

Surely people who have any issue with this has something to hide?
sp4nky 16th June 2012, 12:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
he said he was curious, they say he did damage to their system, and was deleting files, the problem we face with that case, is we only know what the press have released, he says he didn't, the us government say he did.

Actually, he says he did and that he would continue to do so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary McKinnon
US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels …

This is a message that he fully admits leaving on a NASA computer. Quite frankly, I'm surprised we've let him stay in the UK so long despite his extradition being authorised at the highest level.
law99 16th June 2012, 15:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by VipersGratitude
This is a well-considered bill is about security, not about marketing, misinformation, manipulation and spin. They simply want to protect us from terrorists, and our children from pedophiles.God save the Queen.

+1

Surely people who have any issue with this has something to hide?

+10
law99 16th June 2012, 15:19 Quote
Sorry I meant I have ten things to hide. Oh no wait, I already knew how to hide them... guess I'm not effected. Move on, nothing to see here.
yougotkicked 16th June 2012, 22:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
+1

Surely people who have any issue with this has something to hide?

Or they think the government shouldn't spend billions on something that is unlikely to actually help much at all, and sets a precedent for government snooping.

Look at the estimated cost of implementation, and then look at what is gained. If I understand correctly, this isn't actually information the police couldn't get before, the bill will just make it so they don't need a warrant to access the information, and ISP's will have to restructure their email systems in order to make this info readily available. This isn't a new crime fighting tool, it's a shortcut through some red tape. In exchange for £1.8 billion, police can dodge a little bureaucracy, and all the criminals and terrorists who apparently can be instantly caught by knowing who they exchanged emails with and when, will have to...

Oh wait, this whole thing still relies on the investigator's finding the criminal's (probably secret) email address?
dark_avenger 17th June 2012, 09:12 Quote
Billions of dollars to monitor Joe Blogs email? Seems a bit stupid, you'd have a to be a pretty useless criminal to be discussing things over email...
Porkins' Wingman 17th June 2012, 09:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by VipersGratitude
Don't worry folks. They don't want to read the contents of your communications, they just want to record who you're in contact, and how often. The government are just like that soft, cuddly company who, earlier this year, launched the largest tech IPO in history.

Yes, there's obviously value in such a social graph, but this is the government we're talking about and they're paid to look after our interests, not theirs! It's not as if they want to identify political influencers (those who are politically active with a large network of contacts) along with the politically influenced (those who reciprocate that communication, but are otherwise politically inactive).

What would be the point in that? They certainly wouldn't use this data to spin otherwise unpopular policies to appeal to those influencers, giving them more precise control over the impact of the party line, rather than just hope it appeals to a blanket demographic.

And I'm sure they wouldn't attempt to manipulate an ignorant Electoral Borders Committee (afterall, why would they need access to 'security' data?) because that would be an absolute perversion of the democratic system.

This is a well-considered bill is about security, not about marketing, misinformation, manipulation and spin. They simply want to protect us from terrorists, and our children from pedophiles.

God save the Queen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlT2001
+1

Surely people who have any issue with this has something to hide?
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
+10

This is making my brain hurt. It's clear that VipersGratitude has got tongue firmly in cheek here, but it's less clear whether Carl, and therefore Law99, have as well. I have confuze.
Aracos 18th June 2012, 18:45 Quote
I always ignore everything that comes after "protect children". That is an excuse that is overused and almost appears to be an excuse you can't argue against otherwise you're a bad person. For a bill like this we need a lot more justification than simply to "protect children".
VipersGratitude 7th August 2012, 10:42 Quote
Holy thread resurrection!

Watched this on TED today, which totally validates my opinion on the topic

Gv7Y0W0xmYQ
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