Rewiring the System

I Spy “Pig Farm”

Posted in Uncategorized by rewiringangel on November 12, 2009
Tags: , , , , , , ,

State to ‘spy’ on every phone call, email and web search

Every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private
citizens is to be stored for a year and will be available for monitoring by
government bodies.

By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent

Published: 7:00AM GMT 10 Nov 2009

All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law
to keep a record of every customer’s personal communications, showing who
they have contacted, when and where, as well as the websites they have

Despite widespread opposition to the increasing amount of surveillance in
Britain, 653 public bodies will be given access to the information, including
police, local councils, the Financial Services Authority, the ambulance
service, fire authorities and even prison governors.

They will not require the permission of a judge or a magistrate to obtain the
information, but simply the authorisation of a senior police officer or the
equivalent of a deputy head of department at a local authority.

Ministers had originally wanted to store the information on a single
government-run database, but chose not to because of privacy concerns.

However the Government announced yesterday it was pressing ahead with
privately held “Big Brother” databases that opposition leaders said amounted
to “state-spying” and a form of “covert surveillance” on the public.

It is doing so despite its own consultation showing that it has little public

The Home Office admitted that only one third of respondents to its six-month
consultation on the issue supported its proposals, with 50 per cent fearing
that the scheme lacked sufficient safeguards to protect the highly personal
data from abuse.

The new law will increase the amount of personal data that can be obtained by
officials through the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
(RIPA), which is supposed to be used for fighting terrorism.

Although most private firms already hold details of every customer’s private
calls and emails for their own business purposes, most only do so on an ad
hoc basis and only for a period of several months.

The new rules, known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme, will not only
force communications companies to keep their records for longer, but to
expand the type of data they keep to include details of every website their
customers visit, effectively registering every online click.

While public authorities will not be able to view the contents of these
emails or phone calls, they can see the internet addresses, dates, times and
identify recipients of calls.

Firms involved in storing the data, including Orange, BT and Vodafone, will
be reimbursed at a cost to the taxpayer of £2 billion over 10 years.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said he had fears about the abuse
of the data. He said: “The big danger in all of this is ‘mission creep’. This
government keeps on introducing new powers to tackle terrorism and organised
crime which end up being used for completely different purposes. We have to
stop that from happening”.

David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, added: “Whilst this is no
doubt necessary in pursuing terrorist suspects, the proposals are so
intrusive that they should be subject to legal approval, and should not be
available except in pursuit of the most serious crimes.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office also opposed the moves.

“The Information Commissioner believes that the case has yet to be made for
the collection and processing of additional communications data for the
population as a whole being relevant and not excessive,” a spokesman said.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, has criticised the
amount the scheme will cost for what he said is effectively “state spying”.

He added yesterday: “It is simply not that easy to separate the bare details
of a call from its content. What if a leading business person is ringing
Alcoholics Anonymous?”

Ministers said that they still have to work with the communications industry
to find the correct way of framing the proposal in law — meaning it will not
come before Parliament until after the general election. But the Home Office
yesterday insisted it would push the legislation through. Jacqui Smith, the
Home Secretary, originally released a consultation paper in April.

Only 29 per cent of respondents supported the Government approach. Meanwhile
the communications providers themselves questioned the cost of the scheme and
whether it was even technically feasible.

John Yates, Britain’s head of anti-terrorism, has argued that the legislation
is vital for his investigators.

David Hanson, the Home Office minister, said: “The consultation showed
widespread recognition of the importance of communications data in protecting
the public .. we will now work with communications service providers and
others to develop these proposals, and aim to introduce necessary legislation
as soon as possible.”


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