It appears that one of the previous, hated, Labour government schemes for even more, very expensive, snooping on millions of innocent people's internet and phone activities, is being resurrected by the Coalition government with the misleading title of the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP)
The Open Rights Group has a useful wiki about CCDP and its predecessor schemes.
They also have a Petition against the CCDP for you to sign.
Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May,
I do not want the government to try to intercept every UK email, facebook account and online communication. It would be pointless - as it will be easy for criminals to encrypt and evade - and expensive. It would also be illegal: mass surveillance would be a breach of our fundamental right to privacy. Please cancel the Communications Capabilities Development Plan.
It is almost as if the out of touch politicians and bureaucrats in Downing Street, Whitehall and Marsham Street have not bothered to notice the recent public and internet industry backlashes against legislative attempts to further snoop on and inconvenience innocent internet users, such as the SOPA bill in the USA or the ACTA treaty in the European Union (which this Coalition Government, shamefully, did not veto), which only served the private interests of lobby groups and not the wider interests of the general public.
Why have none of the Whitehall policy advisors learnt anything from the amount of ridicule, that their unworkable and repressive knee jerk reaction, to somehow ban or censor the use of mobile phones and social network messaging systems, after they were used by some, but not all of the rioters in August last year ? Exactly the same systems were also used, by more sensible people, simultaneously with the riots, to help innocent people stay away from riot affected areas and to help to organise the cleanup of the damage.
With the Government's utter failure to make out any evidence based business case for further intrusive legislation, they risk a public backlash which could limit their existing, overbroad, easily abused powers, with which they already fail to catch terrorists or serious organised criminals with, under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but which appear to have been corruptly used to snoop on celebrities and innocent people at the behest of certain mainstream media news organisations.
NO2ID press release: Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone - of almost all our communications and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading - just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.
This Daily Telegraph report is what seems to have re-ignited this weekend's outcry against this scheme:
Details of every phone call and text message, email traffic and websites visited online are to be stored in a series of vast databases under new Government anti-terror plans.
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
9:00PM GMT 18 Feb 2012
Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.
The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by.
For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.
The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.
The Home Office appears to be showing its usual contempt for the general public and for our fundamental rights of privacy and free association, by only bothering to consult with tame "communications industry" representatives, who have no commercial interest in protecting the public's privacy, so long as they do not have to pay for the data retention and snooping equipment themselves.
A Home Office spokesman said: "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.
Unless those "certain circumstances" are very, very tightly controlled, with criminal penalties which can be used against any Government official or agency or private sector sub-contractor who abuses them, we will expect the worst.
Access to Communications Data should no longer be allowed to be self authorised, a judicial warrant should be obtained first.
The current Interception of Communications Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, has no real powers and cannot cope with more than a tiny fraction of the existing email interception warrants and is not consulted at all, on most of the hundreds of thousands of self authorised Communications Data demands for mobile phone records and location data
There is no hope that he can provide any public reassurance whatsover when CCDP extends such Data Retention and snooping to Twitter, Facebook and to online games etc. i.e. systems which are not run by Communications Providers (fixed line Telecommunications, Mobile Phone and Internet Service Provider companies)
We meet regularly with the communications industry to ensure that capability is maintained without interfering with the public's right to privacy.
The commercial interests of the "communications industry" and the pressure applied to them through the threat of losing their Government monopolies and spectrum licences means that they are not the only people who should be consulted about upholding the public's right to privacy.
Where they can get away with it, they also try to exploit the public's communications data privacy for commercial gain.
The Government should be protecting the public from the privacy invasive excesses of the "communications industry", such as Deep Packet Inspection based advertising, not conspiring with them cosily in secret, to further reduce the privacy of millions innocent members of the public.
How many of these "regular meetings" have there been to discuss CCDP ?
How many meetings have there been with civil liberties and privacy or consumer watchdog groups to discuss CCDP ? We suspect that there have been none.
[Time for a few Freedom of Information Act requests to the Home Office to see if they have bothered to "consult" with anyone except the vested interests]
As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as Parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the Government's approach to civil liberties."
The Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government's "approach to civil liberties" is nothing to be proud of. They have yet not reversed, as promised, any of the repressive Labour legislation, apart from the Identity Cards Act.
They still have not sorted out the legislative disasters created by Labour, such as the Extradition Act 2003 or the plethora of repressive but often unworkable or actually counter-productive Terrorism and Serious Crime legislation.
All that can be said of their legislative dithering so far, is that they have not yet made things much worse, with more technically inept, catch-all Labour style legislation.