Communications Data Bill announced

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Gordon Brown has, either for genuine transparency in Government reasons, or, more likely, for cynical short term "Must be Seen To Be Doing Something" reasons just before the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, pre-announced a list of forthcoming Bills, which would traditionally have been first revealed in the Queen's Speech in November.

See the document with the meaningless slogan title "Preparing Britain for the Future" - Government's Draft Legislative Programme 2008/09 (.pdf)

These include Yet Another Police Bill, and a Transport Security Bill - more on those in later blog postings.

The one which caught our attention most is the Communications Data Bill which will increase the Government and Police snooping capabilities, regarding Internet usage logfiles etc. Telephones and mobile phones are already subject to the mandatory Data Retention scheme, brought into force last October, as a result of the "policy laundered" European Union Directive on Data Retention ("we have to do this because the EU told us to" - even though it was the UK Government which was on of the prime movers who helped to inflict this wasteful and intrusive policy on all 450 million European Union citizens in the first place).

Even though UK Goverment was one of the proponents of this scheme, they, along with several other EU states cried off impementing the Directive for internet email, web traffic and peer to peer filesharing etc. for 18 months after doing so for mobile and landline telephony.

See the Data Retention Is No Solution wiki

Will there be strict limits and adequate safeguards regarding exactly who has access to such retained log files ?

Will there be a cheap, easy, rapid, fair and decent error correction and complaints procedure for individuals and businesses ?

Will there be criminal penalties for data abusers, generous financial compensation and prompt public apologies from senior officials and politicians when, not if, things go horribly wrong ?

Can pigs fly ?

There is a promise of "pre-legislative scrutiny"of this Bill, but, given the fiasco of the Public Consultation conducted by the Home Office on the topic of RIPA Part 1 Communications Traffic Data statutory Code of Practice, back in 2006, we are extremely wary and cynical, and fear that it will be another sham.

The Labour Government actually went ahead regardless and introduced and then rubber stamped into law, a Statutory Instrument Order which went ahead and implemented one of the Questions on which it was allegedly "consulting" the public about, right in the middle of the 12 week Consultation process, without even pretending to "listen" to the views of the public or analysing their responses.

See The Consultation Process paras 17 to 20

Details of the Bill:

11. Communications data bill
The purpose of the Bill is to: allow communications data capabilities for the prevention and detection of crime and protection of national security to keep up with changing technology through providing for the collection and retention of such data, including data not required for the business purposes of communications service providers; and to ensure strict safeguards continue to strike the proper balance between privacy and protecting the public.

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • Modify the procedures for acquiring communications data and allow this data to be retained;

  • Transpose EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of communications data into UK law.

The main benefits of the Bill are:

  • Communications data plays a key role in counter-terrorism investigations, the prevention and detection of crime and protecting the public. The Bill would bring the legislative framework on access to communications data up to date with changes taking place in the telecommunications industry and the move to using Internet Protocol (IP) core networks;

  • Unless the legislation is updated to reflect these changes, the ability of authorities to carry out their counter-terror, crime prevention and
    public safety duties and to counter these threats will be undermined.

Consultation
The Government plans to publish this Bill in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny later this year. The draft Bill will then be made available on www.homeoffice.gov.uk. In the meantime, any comments or questions about these proposals should be directed to CommsData@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

Territorial extent
The Bill would extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. The Government will work closely with the devolved administrations in relation to their responsibilities in this area.

6 Comments

Common Purpose up to their usual tricks.

Stop Common Purpose

If you don't know what Common Purpose is, I suggest you find out.

Common Purpose is a corrupt organisation which must be stopped:

http://www.stopcp.com

@ Stop Common Purpose - do you have any hard proof of corruption involving the Labour party, or UK Government departments, the Police or even the European Union bureaucracy ?

If you do, you might need to take a few basic precautions - see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Umm. Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere and apologies if my imperfect understanding of the proposed Bill is all too evident.

But in order for the State to have a pernament and enduring record of all the websites, and the content of the pages at the time I visited them, is going to take some doing.

Firstly, this computer has a dynamic IP address. This changes each time I disconnect and re-connect my broadband router. So to keep a record of what sites were connected to by this computer, there would have to be a connection something like "New IP address 123.456.789.123 Was old IP address 120.456.789.123"

As web sites change over time, each visit recorded from this IP address would have to be accompanied by a snapshot of the web pages concerned together with the files downloaded (pics, logo's, sound files, flash movies plus any dvds, mp3s etc that might have been downloaded for later replaying.

Please note that I am saying 'this IP address' and 'this computer' because it would be difficult to prove it was definitely 'me' accessing a particular site as opposed to member of my family, friend or unknown interloper.

If I was to go to an internet cafe, there would have to be some kind of mechanism that identified me to be 'really me' and logged on to a particular computer at a particular time. Maybe I would have to show my Identity Card.

Perhaps the State is suggesting that every website should require every visitor to logo on with their Identity Card number before showing any kind of information? Except that non-UK sites would not comply, and I could still type in someone else's Identity Number.

But let's pretend that somehow they do it. And every visit to every site is captured (along with all content, attachments and downloads) and tagged individually to this IP. How big is that going to be? I reckon that my 12 year old son could rack up half a terrabyte or so in a year, what with all the movies, games and sound files he accessing. Remember, they would need to record every state of every on-line game played just in case someone chatted on line during the game and said "Let's bomb Parliament next Wednesday".

Apart from the hideous civil liberties viloation; is this access and data logging likely to succeed in any useful or intelligible way?

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/no-to-1984/

If you are against this infringement of our rights, please sign the above petition on the UK Government's petition website. If everyone who disagrees does, we can make a difference!

What worse is, this may very well be the beginning of the end.

The bible talks about how this would came to pass, i bet the next thing will be the replacement of cash, that would be some kind of unique mark/computer chip placed on our foreheads or in our right hands.

Be warned, these guys are not trying to fight terrorism, they are the terrorism.

Such a bill would have no meaning in the fight ageinst terrorism, it would only make the predictions of the bible turn into reality step by step, but who knows, maybe thats what they want.

Hi,

Firstly, To Bill Haydon, Direct your attention to the development of the IPV6 Protocol & what is known as a "hardware id".

Also, This "super database" will decide who you are by profiling your search query's, keywords you use in your conversations, on-line nicknames and the IP addresses of the computers you use to access the net. It will cross compute these "variables", together with text messaging, phone and cctv data in order to create a fully comprehensive profile of everything you do, everywhere you go, everything you search for on the www, and arguably everything you think.

The government are proposing this centralised super database should be run by a private company.

a couple of questions...

What happens if someone hacks this database full of sensitive data on the British population?

What's stopping the government and other officials selling our information once it is collected?

Welcome to the future.

Frank.

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Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers