The prime critic of the Draft Communications Data Bill, Dr. Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat) had to miss some of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill 's first Oral Evidence session from:
Charles Farr OBE, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Richard Alcock, Director of Communications Capability Directorate, and Peter Hill, Head of Unit for Pursue Policy and Strategy Unit, Home Office
"the surveillance state éminence grise of repressive surveillance policies Charles Farr (why is he still in a position of influence under the Coalition after his disastrous New Labour policies ?)" dominated the Home Office evidence.
[Charles Farr centre of Home Office panel, gesturing) with Professor Ross Anderson sitting just behind him]
We await the full transcript of the session, which is still available online (requires Microsoft Silverlight on Windows) at:
Here are a couple of important points to watch out for:
Charles Farr (CF):
(Home Office survey) figures for Communications Data for which applications are made and which is obtained:
27% drugs related
15% propert offences - arson, armed robbery, theft
12% financial offences
10% sexual offences
5% / 5.65% for missing persons
5.7% for harrassment
4% for offences against ther person
4 / 5% for explosives ???
speeding is not mentioned
Interception of Communications Commissioner's Annual report due out next week / published this Friday 13th.
Anonymisation will "cease to be a significant problem."
if you have the data, provided for in this legislation, then you can resolve, increasingly, anonymous communications, which are a feature of, the communications environment in which we live.
Put it another way, if you have the right kind of data, issues of anonymisation, cease to be a significant problem.
Well, err, if people choose to take greater efforts at anonymisation, that is not necessarily a problem for this Bill. errm, If they are engaged in a criminal activity, which we are investigating, then of course, in theory it may become a problem.
I am satisified that with the techiques which are being developed, and which will be, err,
facilitated, by retention, of a kind envisaged in this legislation, errm, many workarounds
can be defeated.
However, there will be cases, where people can find, of course, perhaps temporarily, workarounds to, to, some of what is envisaged here. But I emphasise, we still envisage, that by 2018, we can stem the capability gap, and restore coverage to something 85% of what we need.
Black boxes / DPI only on UK networks for traffic from overseas ISPs who do not play ball
N.B. nothing to stop these being used on UK only traffic or on fioreign traffic in transit to and from other countries via the UK
[more transcript on black boxes, later, perhaps]
David Maclean , Lord Blencathra (LB), the chairman of the Committee made some welcome comments:
RIPA & CDB public authorities: "was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?"
Some of us, who have around a long time, have heard almost those exact words
whilst serving on the RIPA committee in 2000, where the, where we were dealing with the big 4 on the face of the Bill, I think, and then the Minister let slip that there were some other public authorities that could be added as well
Under questioning, he then produced a letter to the whole committee, which showed that when the Bill was completed, there about 32 public authorities added. 12 months later we ended with 500 and we've got 650 So I wonder, was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?
Historical data on claimed benefits of Communications Data
Quantitative figures are something which should have been in every Interception of Communications Commissioner's Report, but which has been kept secret
Before I ask some other colleagues to participate, could I stress that the Committee would like a paper, for them
to get historical data, how many lives saved, err, children safeguarded, money recovered, which would help us come to
a conclusion on whether the extrapolated data, or the, the, plans for the next 10 years are optimistic, or not,
No criminal sanctions in the Bill, why not ?
One warning note of potential disagreement emerged from Nick Brown, the former Labour Chief Whip.
Nick Brown (NB) asked about penalties for misuse, however he did not agree with the Chair that Criminal Sanctions would work.
We will be watching out to see if he manages to influence the final Committee Report to water down this vital point.
... on the face of this Bill, to reassure the public, that any abuse of powers, by a police officer, or any other, designated person, will be treated very seriously. Why not put some criminal sanctions in the Bill ?
CF: We can certainly, take that away
Charles Farr did not sound very enthusuastic about that
LB: ...it just seemed to me, that sanctions in those were, a bit more training, a bit more advice, whereas if there was a possibility of a criminal
penalty there, whether or not it was used, might ewassure the public
NB: I am quite happy to leave it there for now, but I think that we should return to this, and there is doubt in my mind as to whether
criminal sanctions actually work.
LB: If you have any further advice to give us about criminal sanctions, we will happily recieve a paper on it.