Nineteen Eighty-Four - Coming Soon to a Country Near You?

#1
From The Times, May 20, 2008

‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

Richard Ford

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.

The proposal will raise further alarm about a “Big Brother” society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government to manage a system holding billions of records. About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated 3 billion e-mails are sent every day.

Home Office officials have discussed the option of the national database with telecommunications companies and ISPs as part of preparations for a data communications Bill to be in November’s Queen’s Speech. But the plan has not been sent to ministers yet.

Industry sources gave warning that a single database would be at greater risk of attack and abuse.

Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, said: “This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable. We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Holding large collections of data is always risky - the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen.”

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Given [ministers’] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people’s sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security, than a support.”

The proposal has emerged as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the July 7 bombings to bring uniformity of record-keeping. Since last October telecoms companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months. That requirement is to be extended to internet, e-mail and voice-over-internet use and included in a Communications Data Bill.

Police and the security services can access the records with a warrant issued by the courts. Rather than individual companies holding the information, Home Office officials are suggesting the records be handed over to the Government and stored on a huge database.

One of the arguments being put forward in favour of the plan is that it would make it simpler and swifter for law enforcement agencies to retrieve the information instead of having to approach hundreds of service providers. Opponents say that the scope for abuse will be greater if the records are held on one database.

A Home Office spokesman said the Bill was needed to reflect changes in communication that would “increasingly undermine our current capabilities to obtain communications data and use it to protect the public”.
Now I can understand the argument that it can be useful in criminal and security matters, but does this whole thing leave something of a bad taste in anyone else's mouth? And if the individual companies are already required to hold the data then why is the government talking about possibly spending what will no doubt be tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds duplicating effort simply to have a central data source/shiny new toy under their own control that will probably not work very well and be highly unsecure judging by their past IT escapades? Sounds like something a Stasi general would dream up back in the 70s or 80s. Now we can get into arguments about who you'd rather have holding personal data on you, private companies and the chance that they might sell it on or the government and the chance that they might misuse it or even sell it on like they do with the DVLA, but personally I'd probably trust the private company more.
 
#2
Never really got hot and bothered by the likes of ID cards and stuff, I was always of the opinion that 'if you've not done anything then you have nothing to hide'. However this really is starting to get Orwellian in the first instance. What the hell do they hope to achieve? I can't imagine the resources required to manipulate the raw data required to process the info that will be generated. The government will no doubt resource a commodore 64 (with built on floppy) at a huge cost to the tax payer. It will be staffed by an army of civil servants, kept 'legal' by a plethora of lawyers, governed by an unelected quango and lost 6 and a half weeks after it goes live. How much has the proposal cost us already? I betcha it's in the millions already. The human rights lawyers and feckin liberals are slavering at the jowls as we speak and some labour sponsors in the technical and IT industries are pricing up the new yacht! I have no doubt the tories will agree that this is required (up until the point it affects their share of the poll in an adverse way). Politicians no doubt will be exempt from having their personal affairs recorded on a databas.

Yep, 1984 is on the way. Foil hat donned, self destruct button armed, two tickets out of the country booked - browns shagging our arrses and the c**t hasn't washed!
 
#3
BPS666 said:
Never really got hot and bothered by the likes of ID cards and stuff, I was always of the opinion that 'if you've not done anything then you have nothing to hide'. However this really is starting to get Orwellian in the first instance. What the hell do they hope to achieve?
Agree totally. I'm all one for keeping track of terrorists and criminals and if I have to sacrifice a little presonal data to achieve this then all well and good.

I think this is a step too far now.
 
#4
The idea of a National phonecall/email/SMS database is nothing new, however it appears that ministers are now to seriously consider plans drawn up by home office officials.

According to the BBC ministers have not yet seen the plans, and already the limp dems are calling it an "Orwellian step too far".

linky to the BBC

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Communications Data Bill will help ensure that crucial capabilities in the use of communications data for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime continue to be available.

"These powers will continue to be subject to strict safeguards to ensure the right balance between privacy and protecting the public."
The spokesman said changes need to be made to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 "to ensure that public authorities can continue to obtain and have access to communications data essential for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime purposes".
what scares me is I've found a limp dem I agree with on one point

Given the appalling track record of data loss, this state is simply not to be trusted with such private information
Chris Huhne
Lib Dems
 
#5
Utter garbage I'm afraid. There is no way that anyone could capture & store EVERY phonecall/text message sent over the networks, do you have any idea how large the database would have to be in order to cope with the volume? There are people out there, people with no lives granted, who send over 100 texts a day and seem to spend their entire lives on the mobile. This is just crap reporting.

Does anyone out there honestly believe that the Goverment is about to start recording every phone call that they make? Come on for christ sakes, get a life and step away from the tin foil hat.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#6
I'm sure this has been floated before. IIRC the Telcos & ISPs say the cost to them would be disproportionate to the benefit to 'security'
 
#10
actiontoday said:
Is that perchance the sound of a few more people waking up?
Aye. And too bloody late it is too.
All this 'You've nothing to fear if you've nothing to hide' business, this mantra for the terminally stupid, has cost us huge slices of our privacies and freedom.
I thought we weren't going to let the 'terrorists' change our lives because if we did, it would mean they'd won......? Instead, we have allowed our democratic freedoms to be eroded in fear of 'the terrorist' to a point where local councils now use 'anti-terror' legislation to spy on us, not 'them'.
And how the feck did that happen? It happened because we, as a nation, are as thick as shiyte, gullible to the point of ridiculousness, and deserve no better.
:cry:
 
#11
actiontoday said:
Is that perchance the sound of a few more people waking up?
Not sure if the comment about waking up is directed at the likes of me, who were indifferent to the ID card debate etc. If it is, then I suppose I am waking up. I am still in favour of ID cards but not with biometric information etc. There does remain a need to have a means by which we can account for who is who, but the e:mail demanding Mrs BPS "gets greased up and adopt the position" is hardly tracking the terrorist is it? To be honest, I can't see this getting through the House of Lords and if it does Europe will more than likely "smash it's back doors in". Still pi55es me off to the max that our esteemed leaders still want to do it.

Besides this is going to make my stalking acitivity harder than ever and the "cyber bullying" of colleagues will be nigh on impossible. I also don't want the government to know about my embarassing 'soft winkle' condition that is remedied by little blue pills off of the internet.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
I'm more than happy to have my biometric data with me wherever I go, so that Abdul in the corner shop can check me out when I buy a pint of milk.

I also feel far more safe, knowing that my every movement can be tracked by anything up to a dozen cameras at one time.

I'll be even happier when automatic computer facial recognition is linked into this so that the database that holds all my personal calls, email and por . . . internet browsing can be updated and cross-checked.

I'm also rather pleased that wherever my car goes, automatic number plate recognition cameras can add my movements to this ever growing database, not to mention the 273 private and government concerns that can access ALL this information should they wish to.

What really does provide the icing on the cake of course, is that all my financial and medical information will be held in the same manner, and will be made available to the same organisations.

I feel that without this information, I could be at serious risk of coming to harm. Thank heavens the government is doing all this to protect me.

It's nice to know that should I need access to any of this information, all I have to do is ask my local vehicle clamping company, er, if they are allowed to tell me what's in the database of course.
 
#13
My understanding is that this 'contacts not content' - i.e. the comapanies will be expected to keep records of the numbers dialled from my mobile, not the ensuing conversation.

If that's right I'm not that exercised by this - if I'm wrong and they are going to store every word I speak/type then it is time to take the streets.

OaC
 
#14
BPS666 said:
actiontoday said:
Is that perchance the sound of a few more people waking up?
Not sure if the comment about waking up is directed at the likes of me, who were indifferent to the ID card debate etc. If it is, then I suppose I am waking up. I am still in favour of ID cards but not with biometric information etc. There does remain a need to have a means by which we can account for who is who, but the e:mail demanding Mrs BPS "gets greased up and adopt the position" is hardly tracking the terrorist is it? To be honest, I can't see this getting through the House of Lords and if it does Europe will more than likely "smash it's back doors in". Still pi55es me off to the max that our esteemed leaders still want to do it.

Besides this is going to make my stalking acitivity harder than ever and the "cyber bullying" of colleagues will be nigh on impossible. I also don't want the government to know about my embarassing 'soft winkle' condition that is remedied by little blue pills off of the internet.
After speaking to your missus, she too agreed!! :wink:
 
#15
CH512O said:
BPS666 said:
actiontoday said:
Is that perchance the sound of a few more people waking up?
Not sure if the comment about waking up is directed at the likes of me, who were indifferent to the ID card debate etc. If it is, then I suppose I am waking up. I am still in favour of ID cards but not with biometric information etc. There does remain a need to have a means by which we can account for who is who, but the e:mail demanding Mrs BPS "gets greased up and adopt the position" is hardly tracking the terrorist is it? To be honest, I can't see this getting through the House of Lords and if it does Europe will more than likely "smash it's back doors in". Still pi55es me off to the max that our esteemed leaders still want to do it.

Besides this is going to make my stalking acitivity harder than ever and the "cyber bullying" of colleagues will be nigh on impossible. I also don't want the government to know about my embarassing 'soft winkle' condition that is remedied by little blue pills off of the internet.
After speaking to your missus, she too agreed!! :wink:

Did you speak by phone or e:mail? Hang on a second...........I demand the right to check the data base to find out what you've been saying about me and my soft winkle!

On the other hand I've been stalking your missus mate and I demand that privacy regarding the whole terrifying affair be protected at all costs!
 
#16
Those with long memories will remember that this issue first raised it's head in the United States two years ago. It is now a live issue across Europe.

The Germans, having lived under totalitarianism take civil liberties rather more seriously than complacent UK officialdom. So much so, that their Government has run into difficulty with their own constitutional courts over the issue.

Unlike the United Kingdom, the constitutional separation of powers in Germany is very real indeed.

This, from Reuters:

"German court curbs data storage law
19/03/2008 20:03
By Diana Niedernhoefer
KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s top court curtailed a law on Wednesday requiring telecom firms to store phone and Internet data for six months, dealing a new blow to the government’s efforts to beef up anti-terrorism measures.
Opposition politicians, civil liberties campaigners and many citizens had opposed the law, a divisive issue in a country haunted by memories of domestic spying by Hitler’s Gestapo and communist East Germany’s Stasi secret police.
A reaction to bomb attacks in Madrid and London in the last few years, the law obliges telecom firms to keep a record of who contacted whom, and the time and location of calls.
The Federal Constitutional Court ruled data may be stored, but details may only be transferred to investigators in the event of inquiries into serious crime.
The decision was the latest in a series of rulings against tighter security measures introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel and previous governments and it drew praise from civil liberty campaigners who want greater data protection and privacy rights.
"The grand coalition (of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats) should finally draw the lesson of these verdicts and stop crossing the limits of constitutionality on citizen rights," said Claudia Roth from the Greens party.
Joerg van Essen from the opposition FDP called on the government to "finally turn its back on ever-increasing preventive policies and turn towards an interior and legal policy conscious of basic rights."
In 2004, judges ordered the government to tighten rules for bugging homes. Two years later, the court threw out a law meant to prevent mass casualties in potential September 11-style attacks by allowing the shooting down of hijacked planes.
In 2006, the court also set strict limits on the ability of police to trawl electronic databases at random in search of possible terrorists. It said general data trawling was only lawful if there was a concrete threat to Germany or one of its regions, or a danger to human life or freedom.
The court said earlier this year domestic security services were allowed to monitor computers of suspected criminals, but only if they had evidence showing they were dangerous.
Separately, the judges also said police were no longer allowed to register large numbers of car number plates at random and compare them with records. The measure must be restricted to concrete threats or to areas with high crime rates.
(Writing by Kerstin Gehmlich; Editing by Michael Winfrey)"


This, therefore, appears to be an EU-wide measure, and if it illustrates anything at all, it is the vital important that British MEPs are much more pro-active in participatory democracy at EU level by actually bothering to turn up in the European Parliament, take part in it's deliberations and vote instead of bragging in expensive restaurants to undercover journalists from the News of the World that all they do is to claim inflated expenses.

Norway is not a member of the EU and it would be interesting to see what their system has to offer. But, even if they do not wish to participate, the inter-connectivity of the internet would make very little difference to any nationalistic internet UDI on the issue. In fact, it would, in my submission make it pretty irrelevant.

I would conclude therefore that despite my contempt for British politicians who loathe and despise their own electorate, this is something that is wider than anything that originates within the dark sociopathic mindset of those who reside at Westmininster!
 
#17
The start of the the 1984 era started with post code being a form of I.D. quite some time ago.................... you do not even have to give your name as they can deduce this from said post code.
 
#18
From a technical perspective this would be a massive and almost impossible undertaking. The amount of storage space require would be so large that an average data center would not cover it. And how would the logs get there, in what format and who would have to transfer the data into the system. A mind bogglingly pointless exercise in futility.
Simply monitoring suspects lines of communication is far more effective, as well as monitoring connections to well known web sites that attract nutters.
Another badly thought out policy by a govt made up of '12 o'clock flashers'*


*A 12 o'clock flasher is someone where if you enter their house all the appliances are flashing 12 o'clock as they can't even understand how to set the time on them or bother reading the manuals.
 
#19
Its not actually anything new really.
All internet traffic in the UK is routed through GCHQ anyway so they have the ability to track this information.
Telephone traffic is routinely monitored (ever heard of Menwith Hill?) and recorded if any one of countless keywords are used in a conversation.
I believe that in a recprical arrangement the with the USA (due to Consttutional difficulties there) we monitor their telecomunications and they monitor ours. I'm sure I will be corrected on that one.
The state is supreme and we have no rights, hadn't you noticed?
Tin foil hats may not be the preserve of the looney element is society for very much longer. Orwell didn't know the half of it
 

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