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UK Government Says More Spying Needed

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the need-to-make-up-for-the-losses dept.

Privacy 297

An anonymous reader writes "Our wonderful government here in the UK has decided we're not being surveilled enough, and agreed to spend £12 billion on a programme to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage. According to various sources, upwards of £1 billion has already been spent on the uber-database. Rationale? Terrorism, of course (no prizes for guessing). Needless to say, not everyone is as happy as Larry over this: Michael Parker pointed out how us Brits are being 'stalked.' I'm just looking forward to when the data gets lost."

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297 comments

Keyhole career. (4, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336879)

""Our wonderful government here in the UK has decided we're not being surveilled enough, and agreed to spend £12 billion on a programme to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage."

With economies going the way they are. job security will be spying on each other.

Re:Keyhole career. (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336975)

At least they're telling you they are doing it...

By George, Let's Have More Spying Then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337287)

The king decries it! Let it be!

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah, There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
(instrumental break)

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, yeah let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me.
Shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, yeah let it be.
There will be and answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, yeah let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Jury is in! Jihadist towelies are in trouble!

Re:Keyhole career. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25336979)

May be they should expand on spying on all politicians and civil servants first...

Re:Keyhole career. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336999)

12 billion pounds??? A bargain.

Unless of course you Brits have cost overruns that make the low bidder richer than Gates like we do here in the States. If so, expect your taxes to exceed 110% of your annual income one of these days to pay for the priviledge of being spyed on...

Re:Keyhole career. (1, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337173)

no, no, no. that's not how it works. they're no-bid contracts handed out to companies with close ties to, or have curried favor with, high position government official. and there's no such thing as cost "overruns" when it's a cost-plus contract. the more the contractor spends, the more they're paid. and with tax-payers footing the bill and no government oversight, what could possible go wrong?

Re:Keyhole career. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337635)

Apologies for a serious reply to a joking post, but having worked temporarily in a government office and now working for a company which refuses to do government work full stop, this isn't how it works either.

The government appears to be completely incompetent managing these contracts. They order one thing, then completely change their mind. They demand the impossible. They insist how things should work instead of focusing on what it should accomplish. Both sides end up pissed off and out of pocket.

We're currently working on a contract for the Olympics. The olympics delivery authority is currently holding bidding for a job, and has spent months choosing a provider, but they've demanded that once they choose a provider, the system is ready in two weeks. That schedule is not possible. As a result, we've already done the job, and the other bidders must have either done the same or are planning to just not meet the contractual dates.

As I mentioned, we don't work with the government. We've done the job as a subcontractor to one of the bidders, and we've been paid whoever wins the job. Pricing is never straightforward, but one way or another, the government will in the end have paid for half a dozen implementations of their system, all but one of which will be thrown in the trash. The bidding companies will just add their lost costs onto another job they win. This is really where the cost overruns on every single job go.

Re:Keyhole career. (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337167)

With economies going the way they are. job security will be spying on each other.

Fear, what can't it do?

Re:Keyhole career. (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337545)

This is great indeed! Soon we will be so secure that I can have the nuclear powered car I have been yearning for. I mean what else could society gain from more security. Security for its own sake is pointless. So its either nuclear power in peoples hands or to match Russian ramped up spying in Europe.

Thats would make a nice tax rebate check (4, Interesting)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336887)

Thats almost 200 pounds for every man woman and child in the UK.
--
  IP Address Finding [ipfinding.com]

Re:Thats would make a nice tax rebate check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337195)

And if it costs £10/hr to listen to a conversation, that amounts to about 40 hours of conversation per person per year (assuming no foreign calls). Not bad, but what about the terrorist plans that someone doesn't mention until the 41st hour?

Next step (4, Funny)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336897)

Putting cameras in toilets. We must keep an eye on every movement the terrorists make!

Re:Next step (5, Funny)

Warll (1211492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337023)

And of course it is the duty of all good citizens to help out where they can, I already placed cameras in all the local women's washrooms!

Re:Next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337669)

Good call, fellow citizen! I am eager to help you in your strive for national security and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Next step (1)

jtgd (807477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337723)

And you have no doubt caught countless women strapping explosives to their bodies. Thank you, sir, for your service to your country.

Re:Next step (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337165)

Chuck Berry would agree with you. (There are some famous tapes of him doing just that, related to his conviction for putting cameras in women's toilets.)

Re:Next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337275)

When did Japan become a part of the UK?

Re:Next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337495)

Oh shit, the British will be pissed. They might even puke!

When I was a kid... (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336915)

... growing up in Alabama, I somehow always thought that maybe -- just maybe -- there was a better world out there. A cooler world, where people sounded cool, even if what they said was stupid. A place where it always rained, except for when you went to the park. A place where every band was destined to make a million, and the government had some sort of permanency about it. A place ... called ... London.

How badly did I want to live there?

Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you at all times?

Cor blimey; time to leave the bleedin' island, love.

Re:When I was a kid... (3, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337077)

Modern day Britain reminds me of the science fiction dystopia portrayed on the old British TV show The Prisoner [wikipedia.org] .

It's sad and foreboding how social and technological dystopia's emerge from what was once only imaginative musings of science fiction writers.

Re:When I was a kid... (2, Interesting)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337731)

What I find ever more concerning is not only the amount of spying, but how contrived the use of spying equipment has become.

Thanks to the The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act [opsi.gov.uk] , originally intended to prevent crime and stop terrorism, state bodies and councils are now authorised to use spying equipment almost at their volition.

According to an article on bloomberg [bloomberg.com] , such use includes tracking down dog owners who fail to clean up after their four-legged friends, as well as catching people who are dumping waste etc.

Re:When I was a kid... (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337177)

Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you at all times?

If you have nothing to hide you can revel in the fact you are safe, or at the very least when you are victimized it will be preserved for posterity!

Re:When I was a kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337187)

... growing up in Alabama, I somehow always thought that maybe -- just maybe -- there was a better world out there. A cooler world, where people sounded cool, even if what they said was stupid. A place where it always rained, except for when you went to the park. A place where every band was destined to make a million, and the government had some sort of permanency about it. A place ... called ... London.

How badly did I want to live there?

Now ... not so much. Is it really like this? Cameras and eyes on you at all times?

Cor blimey; time to leave the bleedin' island, love.

First of all... Begin loving Europe, not UK. The thing is tha UK is the least european country. Everyone on the continent feels that they are just doing everything based on what the USA is doing. It goes without saying that when USA does something UK supports it.

I believe that the reason for the mainstream media of USA giving so much weight on UK is because they are the europeans that most like USA. The media can say "The brits agree with us... The brits will also do that..." to give impression that most of europeans are on their side. If they always compared to Germany or France instead of UK...

That said. Yeah, things are going down the well here too. Last five years or so. I live in Finland and in just one year we have began internet censorship "for the children", our neighbour Sweden has passed a law to allow them monitor everything that goes through their country (including all of our internet lines), there has been increasing amount of talk about giving the police more power...

Re:When I was a kid... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337279)

I live in Sweden, and it seems that the law that was supposed to be passed has been changed to be a bit less draconian.

But honestly, I don't think there is almost any point in trying to do anything about the actions, or symptoms, of terrorists and terrorism.
Increased security and surveillance simply doesn't help at all. It is to easy for them to just do something else. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Granted, some of the captured people that they claim was trying to commit these kinds of crimes probably would have carried them through...but if the society they had grown up in had been less insane, they probably would never have considered these actions to begin with.

The ONLY thing that can be done is to do something about the causes of it.
Instead, our governments are busy BEING the causes of it. Utterly cluless.

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

zig007 (1097227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337393)

I agree. Britain is easily the least European country in Europe.
It also have a high percentage of its population that actually don't even want to be a part of Europe.
So if you're looking for Europe, don't look there.

Interestingly though, it is the Germans(no offense, I know most Germans don't fit this description) that are generally considered the most behaviorally American by other Europeans...their stereotype share some of the traits, like being loud and a bit arrogant.

Again. No offense to all bashed. :-)

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337511)

You missed the part when I said "when I was a kid".

That was long ago. This is now.

Think about London in 1968, or in 1975, or in 1981. Yeah. Those were the times I'd have picked. Now, tell me it wasn't cooler then.

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337485)

dude, the M2 thing? seriously, let it go, and don't take it so personal....

Re:When I was a kid... (0, Offtopic)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337497)

Too late: I'm trying to burn this account to the ground so that I can start over. I know that within about 2 weeks, I'll get mod points every day. Problem is, this account never loses karma.

So, do your worst ;).

Money no object (2, Interesting)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336973)

After wasting £500bn recently (nearly the entire budget spend by government in one year) on bank bailouts that didn't work, it's amazing there is someone out there still stupid enough to loan the UK money for such crackpot schemes (speaking as a UK citizen). This is on top of the £20bn being wasted for the ID card system that will also crash and burn.

Still, it's government, and they don't care about other people's money, because it's not their wages or pensions that are effected.

With encrypted links being made ever easier, and the /. story recently of Google pushing an easier to use secure protocol, these tracking schemes will ultimately fail, at vast taxpayer expense.

Re:Money no object (1)

tindur (658483) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337515)

Also a branch of an Icelandic bank was taken over by the British state a few days ago using anti-terrorism legislation. If you can declare a bank a terrorist organisation there doesn't seem to be any limits on where you can apply anti-terrorist legislation. Frightening..

Mod parent up! (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337573)

This demonstrates how the laws can and will be used.

It justifies those who believe that when laws are proposed you should think of how it could be abused, not just how it could be used.

"The Treasury released a document to Parliament yesterday showing it used sections of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to take control of the bank's assets, saying in the statement the bank's collapse may harm the U.K. economy. "

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aXjIA5NzyM5c [bloomberg.com]

It's about control not terrorism (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25336987)

The UK had its own domestic terrorists for decades: the IRA. Yet the government did not feel that such pervasive monitoring was necessary. Now, largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary.

I say BS: every agency is wetting themselves hoping to get their hands on this data so that they can pursue their own petty agendas in the same way as RIPA powers have been used for trivial reasons.

Everyone has something to hide. Not necessarily illegal, but enough to coerce behavior.

Re:It's about control not terrorism (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337119)

While I agree with the general sentiment of your post, especially about the history of the IRA, your statement "largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary" ignores the 2005 London bombings which killed 52 people and injured 700.

Re:It's about control not terrorism (2, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337163)

The 2005 attacks which, I should point out, were NOT stopped by the near blanketed amount of cameras in the area. (Although it did accelerate the investigation as to who was involved after the fact)

Re:It's about control not terrorism (4, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337237)

What's bizarre is that our government has such intrusive tendencies as to have a camera covering every stretch of the country yet also has such 'religious tolerance' that those who wish to wear a burqa [imcworldwide.org] , which is effectively a personal tent, allowing them to avoid any kind of indentification, are free to do so. That's what I call an inconsistent set of beliefs. IMO, any group serious in their intent to monitor the population would not allow the monitored to so easily avoid their gaze.

Could this be the governemt being manipulated by security theatre experts?

SecurityAdvisors> Omg, we're running out of ponies!
Government> Aaaarghhh, Panic!
SecurityAdvisors> Never fear, our surveillance systems will save us. *cough* a bargain at £12 Billion"

Re:It's about control not terrorism (2, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337263)

Go look up near infrared photography. It's mainly used as bikini-see through and such voyeurism.

Im sure it works on most burkas.

Re:It's about control not terrorism (5, Insightful)

canthusus (463707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337713)

The UK had its own domestic terrorists for decades: the IRA. Yet the government did not feel that such pervasive monitoring was necessary. Now, largely because of something that happened 3000 miles away, the UK feels that such pervasive monitoring is necessary.

I disagree - I don't think the change is that monitoring is suddenly *necessary*, more that it's suddenly *possible*.

Decades ago we didn't have the technology to routinely capture, store and process this information. Decades ago, the public might not have stood for it.

Now we have the technology. September 11th didn't make monitoring necessary, but did make it politically acceptable.

Why do governments build such systems? Because they can.

I'll take the risk then! (5, Insightful)

dogganos (901230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337003)

I have thought over it many times and, regarding myself, I have concluded: I would prefer to live freely and unobserved and someday die in a terrorist attack, than live in a "security" hell for all my life with cameras and RFIDs up my ass.

Put aside the fact that surveillance almost never stops a attack - only it helps find the burned-out guys.

And some semantics: How many of you walk in the street and feels ''terrorized''? On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape, and your personal data wanders in places you don't know?

Re:I'll take the risk then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337209)

I bet if you polled the average person and asked them if they wanted 200 pounds or to have the government spy on all their neighbors, they'd take the 200 pounds.

Re:I'll take the risk then! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337267)

And some semantics: How many of you walk in the street and feels ''terrorized''? On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape, and your personal data wanders in places you don't know?

Honestly? On the streets I'm far more worried about the average mugger than anybody with a terrorist agenda. But to be honest, I don't manage to work up the great paranoia over my information either. If this state should degenerate into some facist hellhole and I was a threat to the government, then I should have worried more. I don't agree with what's happening but it's hard to get really worked up about a hypotethical. Then again, I might be setting myself up for a Niemöller variation that goes like "When they started surveilancing the [phones|emails|internet] I did not speak out..." and ends like "...but then there was nowhere left to speak out". And sorry for Godwin'ing this thread already.

Re:I'll take the risk then! (2, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337291)

On the other hand, how many of you feel terrorized by the fact that your every moment is on tape

You say that but just wait until you are assaulted by the police in full view of their moveable cameras capable of number plate identification after the police have asked for the cameras to be trained on their position. When you request the camera footage, you'll realise that actually noone in the UK is filmed at all :S

Re:I'll take the risk then! (5, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337293)

Amen. Once in a while you wish Slashdot had a golden +10 moderation, and this is one of those times.

"Terrorism", when looked at number of deaths per year, is basically a total non-issue. How many people have been killed by terrorism in the UK in the last 50 years? Would anyone support a program where you spend _millions_ per prevented death, knowing that far more deaths could have been prevented by spending the same money to prevent something with far higher mortality rates - say, by improving traffic safety, or by reducing the number of smokers?

Terrorism is such political bullshit. Sure, some people get killed (and I grief for them), and we do need to be careful - but we should not, under any circumstance, change our entire way of life, the entire structure of our civilisation, just because a bearded monkey in a cave in Afghanistan got a little upset with us.

There is no al queada (oh sure, there are some people taking that name, but there is no Dr. Blofeld-style, centrally led organisation hell-bent on destroying western civilisation. It is all opportunistic, people sharing a banner that was largely _invented_ by the US). And bin Laden, if he is still alive at all, is a sick, dirty old man living under extremely poor conditions in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and only a threat to himself.

Stop the fear already.

Re:I'll take the risk then! (4, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337491)

Stop the fear already.

Stop what fear? I don't know ANYONE who is fearful of terrorists, or being caught in terrorist acts. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who is scared of this BS. As near as I can tell, it's 100% political propaganda that nameless people are scared and want more big-brother style "protection". People want more self reliance and an honest right to defend themselves when the need arises... be it from terrorist, thugs, or the government.

A challenge to all Slashdotters: If anyone can tell me of people - either you, or people that you personally know - who are genuinely afraid of these things happening, post your stories now:

Re:I'll take the risk then! (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337581)

Can't meet your challenge. I do remember that one of the last terror attack victims - John Tulloch - said "not in my name, Tony", when The Sun decided to use his image to support the governments draconian legislation.

Re:I'll take the risk then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337615)

Stop the fear already.

Stop what fear? I don't know ANYONE who is fearful of terrorists, or being caught in terrorist acts. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who is scared of this BS. As near as I can tell, it's 100% political propaganda that nameless people are scared and want more big-brother style "protection". People want more self reliance and an honest right to defend themselves when the need arises... be it from terrorist, thugs, or the government.

A challenge to all Slashdotters: If anyone can tell me of people - either you, or people that you personally know - who are genuinely afraid of these things happening, post your stories now:

Affraid of terrorism? Nope. I do however know people to which "Think of the children" works well enough to overcome any logic of "But that doesn't actually help the children at all"...

Re:I'll take the risk then! (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337717)

My wife. She is irrationally afraid of flying in the US even with all of the meaningless theatrics. Outside of the US, she's fine.

Re:I'll take the risk then! (5, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337553)

"Terrorism", when looked at number of deaths per year, is basically a total non-issue. How many people have been killed by terrorism in the UK in the last 50 years?

I know it's a rhetorical question but I've just been looking this up myself. This includes the IRA, so just under 2000 including terrorists being killed, according to Wikipedia. That's 40 a year. Slightly higher than the number of tea cosy related accidents. [theyorker.co.uk]

Re:I'll take the risk then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337477)

I would prefer to live freely and unobserved and someday die in a terrorist attack, than live in a "security" hell for all my life with cameras and RFIDs up my ass.

Ben Franklin said the same thing years ago...

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin

Re:I'll take the risk then! (1)

butlerdi (705651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337613)

You seem to think that the reason is to protect You. It is them that they are worried about.

Evidence that it's helping? (1)

SupplyMission (1005737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337027)

From the outside perspective, it just looks like more and more money is being spent to gather more information (and infringe on the privacy of innocent citizens), but there have not been any accompanying reports that the new measures have been successfully used to catch more terrorists.

Why is nobody asking for evidence that it's working? Is there any evidence that it's working?

Safety is always a good thing, but at what point do you just stop getting out of bed in the morning because you think you might get hurt?

Re:Evidence that it's helping? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337155)

...kind of like SETI, hmm?

Re:Evidence that it's helping? (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337281)

I think most would agree that SETI could have done with a little less taxpayer money during the time they were NASA-funded. Some would say they should have had no taxpayer money.

But it bears mentioning that (a) SETI's budget at its peak was three orders of magnitude lower than the amount of money referenced in the article and (b) if my only choices were paying for SETI or paying for UK-style surveillance, it'd be a pretty easy choice.

Re:Evidence that it's helping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337239)

- If there's no terrorist attack, then obviously the spying program is working, and therefore it should get more funding.
- If there's a terrorist attack, then obviously the spying program didn't get enough funding, so it should get more.

This is the holy grail of funding, and every other department is in awe that someone has finally achieved it. UK money will be sucked into this for a long time.

Re:Evidence that it's helping? (2, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337591)

True. And people are missing the fringe benefits. It's also keeping the tigers out of my bedroom, protecting me from cheese falling from the moon and ensuring my molecules don't fall between the gaps in the molecules of the road.

Does Google provide access to emails? (2, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337033)

With SSL access to gmail and increasing use of SMTP-TLS providing encrypted MTA-to-MTA communications, email is more often only accessible in clear text on the server. Since Google is a US-based company, does it provide access to people's mailboxes to the UK government. I am assuming that warrants for every gmail user in the UK would not be granted, so we are talking about warrantless access.

Or perhaps the UK government thinks that everyone in the UK uses a UK-based email provider?

They sure do! (2, Funny)

trib3003 (602101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337041)

With the speed they loose the data they do have to collect much more just to have some left in their own hands.

a nation of Marvins. (2, Insightful)

salparadyse (723684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337059)

I pity the poor saps who have to sit and listen to our phone calls. I come close to running out the room screaming with people I've known for years - whiney, self-indulgent moaning. Bitching about the weather, the government, the television, cars, public transport, the quality of the beer and then of course I've got this terrible pain in the diodes all down my left hand side...

Re:a nation of Marvins. (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337697)

Bitching about the weather, the government, the television, cars, public transport,...

Might wanna cut down on bitching about the government. You never know when you can find yourself in some database as a "terrorist" with your every move tracked, because "the software offered limited options for classifying entries": http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/10/08/2056245 [slashdot.org] (yes, USA example, not sure if UK is as bad yet but sure sounds like it)

1984 (1)

hoshino (790390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337085)

Since it is way behind schedule, they are just making up for lost time.

"The Last Enemy" on Orwell's vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337299)

"The Last Enemy" (from BBC/WGBH) was broadcast early this year in Britain and is currently airing in the U.S. (episode 1 last week, episode 2 soon):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/lastenemy/ [bbc.co.uk]
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/lastenemy/index.html [pbs.org]

It's the most vivid, tangible portrayal of a realistic society sliding into an Orwellian dystopia I've yet seen. The writing is sharp and maintains integrity without becoming too sensational or speculative. (It's even well-acted and smartly directed!) The main protagonist is a young, asocial mathematical physics prodigy who's become embroiled in the [fictional, near-future] British government's "Total Information Awareness" program, involving I.D. cards, 24/7 biometric monitoring, etc. (And he gets laid in the first episode. Seriously- did one of you guys write this thing??)

I think many readers around here would enjoy it on many levels: it's good TV for its own sake, it's thought-provoking, and topical. I'm not big on much in the "modern" genre of mystery/drama/thriller TV, but this one's worth it.

Now, for a bit of venting.

I'm glad to see that some Britons are cognizant enough of what is happening, where things are headed, and of the ramifications to those living in a modern society. It's nice to see it available to American audiences too as it's desperately needed in both places. But alas, it must compete with two major sports. It would be nice to see it slotted in prime time since the CSI/House/etc. crowd would enjoy it, but instead it will languish on "the dork channel" while the silverbacks spill beer over the meaningless and arbitrary ball/run/jump-centric antics of a few athletic specimens in lieu of this.

Quality journalism at its finest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337093)

The Daily Express article manages to get the name of the director of GCHQ wrong. (David Pepper retired months ago. Even Wikipedia knows that.)

If such a trivially verifiable fact is wrong, what are we to make of all the less-easily verified claims in the article? Whatever happened to fact checking and journalistic integrity? I expect this kind of thing from Slashdot editors, but not from newspaper editors.

GCHQ 'monitored Omagh bomb calls' (2)

six025 (714064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337107)

As this BBC news article illustrates, even direct monitoring of a known suspects phone(s) in the lead up to a terrorist event still does not prevent bad things happening:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7606834.stm [bbc.co.uk]

How is the ability to monitor and store information on a whole population going to help? Who is promising that they can improve the situation? Who has their hand in the governments pocket?

We are fast heading towards a total surveillance society, and that will only have negative consequences for *everyone*, including the so called elites.

Peace,
Andy.

King Ed T.V. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337147)

Have you heard of Ed T.V.? You know the moview where Jim Carey played an orphan who was raised on a reality T.V. show????? Well this is King Ed T.V. with the entire Island of the U.K. as the star of a new reality T.V. show! Where you can watch and listen to the citizens of Britain's most private moments and conversations. It will be brilliant!

How else is the government supposed to raise all of the money to bail out the banks?????

The United Kingdom is now The Villiage (5, Insightful)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337161)

And you're ALL Number 6.

Do you have the courage that Number 6 had? Will you fight back against Number 2?

Are you just "A number" or are you Free Men & Women?

The choice is yours.

Abuse of power ? (4, Insightful)

Davemania (580154) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337183)

I am sure many reader are probably aware that assets of Iceland's bank were seized using anti-terrorism laws. Out of curiosity for people from the UK, is there even any reaction to this misuse of power ? With the economic going down, and surely crime rate will rise, I wouldn't trust the civil servants with powers like this.

Re:Abuse of power ? (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337329)

I'm not from the UK but just looking at what's said: Over seizing the assets? Yes. Being an anti-terrorism law? No. I think at this point you could have said it's an emergency and done pretty much what you wanted to anyway. I'm actually far more creeped out by Berlusconi:

"There is talk of suspending markets for the time needed to rewrite rules," he told a news conference when asked what European Union leaders might discuss if they meet in Paris this Sunday.

So he downplayed it a little later on the reactions but that guy, I bet he meant it quite seriously. He owns and got way too many ties to big business for my comfort.

Re:Abuse of power ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337509)

This was an economic / banking problem, and should have been foreseen. If they only had anti terrorism laws to use in this instance, than that is a failure of government. If they had other means available but used the anti terrorism laws anyway, it probably indicates something about their mindset.

libertarian option. (2, Interesting)

barv (1382797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337319)

Now that that particular technological cat has got out of the barn door, how about the Google option - make all those CCTV's into publicly accessible web cams? Just think. With person recognition software tied in I could keep track of my wife and kids, check up on my gf, and in my spare time develop software to keep an eye on the local pedophiles and Muslim terrorists. Nah. I think I would prefer to trust Mr Brown (and whoever else can afford a private CCTV spy network) to do the right thing with all that private information.

I'm just looking forward to when the data is found (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337325)

... to be a lot more usefull for spam, blackmail, voyeur porn, AdSense, generally making consumerism easier and lots of other economic reasons, terror included.

Spy on love... (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337373)

The bond between the loved is beyond the damn govermnent. They will discovery some form of Lojban!

Panopticon in the UK (2, Interesting)

UnixUnix (1149659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337385)

A friend living in London received yesterday by mail two parking violations and one moving violation fine, total cost over 200 (pounds, not dollars). But it appears the UK does not yet have enough surveillance... maybe she can look forward to receiving five per day, not a measly three. Jeremy Bentham would have been proud.

Don't be a lemming (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337443)

First of all - I'm not really in a position to jude whether more or less surveillance is a good thing; I can say it doesn't worry me a lot, just like the terrorist threat and other organised crime dont worry me too much. After all, in my daily life I don't feel that any of those things are in my way. The worst I have experienced is having to take off my shoes at Heathrow when I went through security, and I think that must have been worse for those around me. Frankly, I am surprised that they were willing to risk it.

It is so easy to act like a lemming and follow the crowd over the cliff's edge when somebody starts hollering about surveillance, because it evokes associations about cameras in your bed- and batrooms and people in dark suits following you around discreetly everywhere. This is of course not real - no government has that many resources, certainly not in the current economic climate. So take a small step back, take a deep breath and think critically about things. I am not going to argue for one position or another, but we should learn to be critical about what others want us to believe; it is not only the government that is out to use you, you know.

And while you are thinking, why not give some thought to how you would address the very real problems of international crime in the modern world? Thinking about those things and making up your mind is part of what some call your democratic duty; if you like living in a democracy, you should do your part and take it serious. otherwise you are no better than the ultra-Christian nutters that automatically agrees with anybody who hates gays, is against free abortion and quotes the Bible.

But back to the problems this sort of legislation is actually trying to address, however clumsily: Modern communication, and especially the internet makes it very easy to organise criminal activity of any kind, not just terrorism, but also drug crimes, economic crimes, people smuggling etc etc. How would you, working in the real world, solve these problems? Calling in Rambo or Superman is not going to work.

Pragmatism and no principles (1)

AxeTheMax (1163705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337483)

This shows the problems of pragmatism in government without principles, ethics, or other background. This government has always been pragmatic, partly because principles are also known insultingly as 'ideology'. Without an ethical framework it is easily seduced by the latest bright idea. Many or most of them are from its civil servants since the ministers generally don't have any original ideas of their own. Some of these ideas, such as deregulation of the financial system , can be seen to be stupid ideas now.

Now, a combination of its security people and IT people have persuaded it of another bright idea that will make everyone safe and secure. Unfortunately, failing an East Germany type revolution, this idea is likely to be more permanent than the deregulation of the financial system, but we will not be any safer than people in East Germany were under the Stasi.

I'm Glad I Moved to Germany (4, Interesting)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337487)

I've escaped all this crap by moving to Germany. I never really like the way britain is becoming a surveillance state and moving here was such a breath of fresh air.

It wasn't that hard to find an IT job either, only one month of serious searching.

I'll never need one of these british ID cards, I'm not paying for that bloody database, and the DNA database here has people's names taken out of it if they aren't found guilty.

Re:I'm Glad I Moved to Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337609)

> I'll never need one of these british ID cards, I'm not paying for that bloody database

I sincerely hope you're being sarcastic. Germans are already required to carry an ID card (Personalausweis - as yet, without RFID though) at all times, and a database recording phone calls, emails, mobile calls (including locations) and ALL internet connections was put in place 1.January.2008 . Time to move back, maybe, eh?

Re:I'm Glad I Moved to Germany (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337745)

The difference is the Germans don't habitually 'loose' this collected data.

Re:I'm Glad I Moved to Germany (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337757)

He might have had a look at the following map:

"http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-545269&als[theme]=Privacy and Human Rights"

Re:I'm Glad I Moved to Germany (0, Flamebait)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337649)

Please stop being a martyr.

Nobody moves out of the UK due to surveillance, they do it to enjoy better weather, to have a better cost of living, because of a job or because they want to settle alongside other friends or family.

I'll be moving to Spain in the next 5-10 years for the climate and lifestyle - how many surveillance cameras there are here has no relevance to that decision.

Opportunity cost (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337525)

In the last 5 years, there have been roughly 100 deaths related to Terrorism in the UK. The death rate under the IRA was slightly higher at about 50 per year. Let's take that higher figure and assume some 500 deaths over the next 10 years.

So, to fight this, we have a £1 billion database, a £12 billion surveillance program, and an ID cards scheme costing £18 billion. £31 billion for fighting those 500 deaths, or £62 million per death presumably prevented.

Perhaps if this £31 billion was spent on subsidising healthy food or teaching kids to cook properly and healthily, we could see a drop in the several thousand heart disease related deaths each year. If it was spent on road safety perhaps we could see a drop on the 3000 or so people killed on the roads each year.

Why are we worrying about terrorism?

Better use for the same money: (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337543)

http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/key [poverty.org.uk] facts.shtml

The UK has a higher proportion of its population in relative low income than most other EU countries: of the 27 EU countries, only 5 have a higher rate than the UK. The proportion of people living in relative low income in the UK is twice that of the Netherlands and one-and-a-half times that of both France and Germany

It would be great for stalkers (2, Insightful)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337551)

Just get a back door, or a government job, and stalk victims with more ease and comfort.

As I'm not from the UK, I have to wonder what sort of stalking laws this would break.

The government of course being exempt from them.

More Spying in the UK ???????? (1)

Blauwvoet (1300225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337587)

What about the privecy act ?????????????????? Wouldn't it be better to spend those £ 12 million to medical care, less fortunate and poor people ?????????

Innovation Against Legislation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337589)

Anonymous, for obvious reasons, but I suspect that it won't be too far long before VPN services become the norm, and all internet traffic in and out of the UK becomes encrypted.

It's economic suicide to suppose they can legislate against the use of VPNs, given their widespread use in commerce and industry. Licensed, perhaps? Even then that'd be an immense organisation to set up (but then I suppose it's also what our government is good at!). Even if they did go this route, then innovators would simply encapsulate the VPN protocol into another, innocent stream to avoid detection.

There are already "For the Greater Good" services popping up in the light of this threat, such as Genesis VPN [po21.net] and they, and the many that came before and that are likely to follow, will become the norm.

Anonymous networks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337641)

And this is why we need Tor, i2p [i2p2.de] and Freenet [freenetproject.org] .
Anonymity online, and not being tracked by people with ridiculous reasons, it's what they provide and what people need (especially now that China, the UK, the US and I thought Sweden as well, are tracking their own citizens).

China (2, Interesting)

bestiarosa (938309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337661)

Honestly, come and live in China and you'll be less spied upon than this.

I've never felt as free and anonymous as now, living in a not better identified middle-sized city in an anonymous province of China.

And then they say China is a repressive regime where you have no freedom.

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