Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UK Government Backtracks On Black Box Snooping

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the on-second-thought dept.

Privacy 32

judgecorp writes "On the day the so-called snooper's charter was included in proposed UK legislation, as part of the Queen's Speech, it has emerged that the government is already backtracking on the controversial idea of making ISPs install black boxes to collect traffic and pass it to the authorities. The bill is not yet in a draft form, and TechWeek has learned there is a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes."

cancel ×

32 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

you don't understand how politics works (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951299)

You never ask for what you want. You ask for more than what you want, and pretend to have made concessions. You end up with exactly what you want.

Also, the big ISPs have so many government contracts that they will happily cooperate voluntarily. If you want privacy, you would do well to use a small ISP - particularly ones like A&A with a vocally anti-censorship and anti-snooping agenda.

Re:you don't understand how politics works (5, Informative)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951443)

That's not just politics, that's Negotiation 101, which applies to far more than politics. The difference is that in most other negotiations you don't want to be so outrageous that the other party walks away, whereas in 21st century politics that can be a bonus that makes your base happy.

Re:you don't understand how politics works (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951889)

That's not just politics, that's Negotiation 101, which applies to far more than politics. The difference is that in most other negotiations you don't want to be so outrageous that the other party walks away, whereas in 21st century politics that can be a bonus that makes your base happy.

Or, as I like to put it, "If you want a puppy, ask for a horse."

Re:ask for a horse (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952671)

If we ask for a Horse can we get the OMG Ponies! as a permanent slashdot skin?

Re:you don't understand how politics works (3, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951515)

Hmm. So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years. I tell people exactly what I want (read: programmer needs), and they think it's the beginning of negotiations, instead of the end of them.

Re:you don't understand how politics works (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951581)

It's also important to come up with false bases for your position and get people arguing over the details.

For example, in the UK there is no problem with government "overspending" on public services beyond PFI contracts (the pension age was too low but that's already being fixed). We've had a century since the National Insurance Act 1911 of unprecedented improvement in the life of the average Briton. What we do have, however, is a lack of the government support for infrastructure and education and promotion of industry which has made China and Germany so successful. The government says: "We need to cut spending - what should we cut?" The premise is wrong. In fact, we need to spend more on the long term advancement of the nation.

Here, the statement is: "We need to snoop on people to protect us from terrorism and other serious crime - how should we snoop?" The answer is not: "This is going too far," or even, "No, we don't need to snoop," but, "No, there is not much of a threat from terrorism or serious crime."

Re:you don't understand how politics works (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951789)

You never ask for what you want. You ask for more than what you want, and pretend to have made concessions. You end up with exactly what you want.

True, although in any civilised country the mere act of asking for such a broad sweeping surveillance system should be sufficient grounds for the requestor to be immediately removed from office for being some kind of batshit crazy voyeur/control freak. How would we have reacted 20 years ago if the Home Office had asked that the Post Office open every letter sent, and photocopy it before sending it to its intended destination? We'd think them crazy. This request for the automatic routing of data to GCHQ is no less crazy than this, so in this case there should not be negotiation or haggling - just the immediate sacking of the person requesting this stuff.

Re:you don't understand how politics works (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39953759)

This request for the automatic routing of data to GCHQ is no less crazy than this, so in this case there should not be negotiation or haggling - just the immediate sacking of the person requesting this stuff.

If that's what the public wanted, that's what it would get.
And when I say "wanted" I mean really wanted to the point where it was politically untenable to not-fire someone.
But the reality is that most shitty legislation is created with "a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes" and not presented to the public until the votes have been more or less lined up.
Is it really a democratic process when the legislators and businesses are "maneuvering behind the scenes" without public input?

Re:you don't understand how politics works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964103)

Actually, they DID want this 20 years ago. Fortunately it was not technically feasible at the time, so they settled for being able to tap specific conversations.

Since then Labour's RIP Act lets a huge range of organisations request your data and get it with very few safeguards. The Liberal Democrats are committed to repealing most of that, but the security services want even more, hence the manoeuvring - and also the fact that this is a draft bill, and is EXPECTED to change a lot before it's passed. Unfortunately there are a lot more Conservative MPs than Liberal Democrat ones, and a lot of them think spying on the rest of us is a Good Thing, so the outcome is uncertain. With a big enough campaign against it, the Government can be persuaded to make this a good bill that repeals part of the RIPA and increases liberty. Without such a campaign, it will likely turn into a snoopers charter worse than the RIPA.

tl;dr version: join ORG and other groups campaigning for net freedom. See http://www.openrightsgroup.org/ [openrightsgroup.org]

Doubt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951315)

I would guess it's almost entirely due to money, the price the ISPs want in order to retain the information, perhaps someone has hit them with a clue stick about how little useful, terror or crime related information they are likely to harvest, but who knows the vested interest in collecting the data, not only to have the data but the gigantic amount of computing power and storage required, there is a lot of gold in them thar hills.

Sudden outbreak of common sense? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951319)

Maybe they realized that it would just push people to use more encryption and make the security service's job even harder.

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense? (3, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951969)

That's a problem I have with a lot of these laws including those in the US - they're getting implemented with the intention whether explicitly stated or not that they be used for minor crimes like file sharing. Yet there's a price to these laws - the effect is what you state, and it means the criminals they really should be catching, i.e. child abusers, become much harder to catch, whilst the file sharers continue sharing.

There's a kind of an unspoken honour system on the internet in a way - if you let people file share etc. then those with the abilities will not attack your sites, they will not produce anonymisers, they will not produce technology that disrupts law enforcement, but if you start going after every petty little crime online like that, then expect a response that will benefit file sharers, terrorists, and paedophiles alike. The authorities need to realise that - that the real winners of a war between authorities and those who commit minor crimes will be people who commit serious crimes.

Perhaps this really isn't about minor crimes, but excuse me if I get the feeling that it wouldn't take long for this snooping charter to be used for exactly that which would only crate an arms race which slow moving leglislatures can never hope to win.

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense? (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952365)

I'm not sure if it's 'honor' as much as 'apathy'(though the results are the same).

At a population level, it isn't really the existence or nonexistence of a tool that matters as much as its availability to laypeople. As long as you don't exert any overt pressure, even relatively tiny barriers to use(whether inherent to the technology, because of common ignorance, or because of UIs that uphold the finest stereotypes concerning why programmers aren't UI experts) will keep people away in droves. The only ones bothering will be privacy geeks and atypically clueful criminals, both of which are relatively scarce.

If you do exert overt pressure, you create a substantial incentive for even people who care nothing about technology to know about some basic circumvention tools. This creates not only a wider skill base; but a much larger pool of basically-legitimate users among which to hide.

If you block facebook, even people who are socially obligated to dislike geeks will take a sudden interest in the otherwise alien notion of 'proxy servers'...

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39959599)

If you do exert overt pressure, you create a substantial incentive for even people who care nothing about technology to know about some basic circumvention tools. This creates not only a wider skill base; but a much larger pool of basically-legitimate users among which to hide.

Don't entire disagree, but I'd add that there are a lot of libertarian types in tech, so you start pushing even a little, they'll start baking it in so that the layfolk won't even know it's there.

Most people don't know or care how BitTorrent, DHTs, Magnent links, or BT protocol encryption works, but all were designed when the Powers That Be decided to start cracking down, and now we have all these things which work mostly transparently to the non-techies folks.

BACKDOORS - they delight in inhaling your fumes! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951333)

BACKDOORS in YOUR hardware & software!

You'd be surprised how much hardware and software have back doors built into them, much of it legally.

GOOGLE: Cisco routers back doors

and you'll find hours of reading material alone just for one company.

WIKILEAKS: published information on dozens of companies making spyware for hardware and software and selling it to governments.

When is the last time you checked the firmware on your PCI devices and network card?

Your router?

Dumped and checksummed/debugged your BIOS lately?

Why aren't the anti-malware companies like Symantec and others climbing over each other in an effort to invent the technology and utilize it via the cloud to create GIANT databases of legit firmware for hardware in the fight against the most serious of root kits? Are they in bed with big bro?

How many so called remote exploits were patched this week in Windows? This month? This year? Since its release? Start from the beginning of the Windows version release and count all of the remote exploits up to present day and compare that to OpenBSD for example.

###

U.S. govâ(TM)t wiretapping laws and your network
â" https://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/012307-us-govt-wiretapping-laws-and.html [networkworld.com]

âoeActivists have long grumbled about the privacy implications of the legal âoebackdoorsâ that networking companies like Cisco build into their equipmentâ"functions that let law enforcement quietly track the Internet activities of criminal suspects. Now an IBM researcher has revealed a more serious problem with those backdoors: They donâ(TM)t have particularly strong locks, and consumers are at risk.â
â" http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html [forbes.com]

What the hell Britain? (3, Informative)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951345)

Don't you know how these things are supposed to be done now?

You do it illegally, then after the fact pass laws retroactively granting immunity. Noobs.
Room 641A [wikipedia.org]
Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act [wikipedia.org]

"It's particularly important for Congress to provide meaningful liability protection to those companies now facing multibillion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in efforts to defend our nation, following the 9/11 attacks."

etc etc

Re:What the hell Britain? (-1, Offtopic)

snailhill (2636113) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951773)

You need more than you want, and pretend to have made concessions. What you end up with what you want to do? OakleySunglasses-Outlet.us Provide it!

Re:What the hell Britain? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952255)

Bear in mind that what they're backtracking on is saying that they're going to install back doors. They don't learn fast, but maybe they catch on eventually.

It will be back (2)

gramty (1344605) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951349)

The powers that be have been pushing for a ubiquitous telecoms surveillance pork fest for at least the last 20 years. There is a fresh push with every new government / home secretary. I have no doubt whatsoever that we have not seen the last of this, need to stay vigilant.

Encrypted VPN (5, Interesting)

sleiper (1772326) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951433)

I already use a lightly encrypted and anonymised VPN service to avoid traffic shaping when watching movies and playing games, and when accessing US services, all this would do is make me plug my service directly into my router, instead of just activating it when I needed it. All these laws will do is force more people to go down this road, I'm not doing anything wrong, but I also don't want Johnny Government looking over my shoulder at everything I do.

Re:Encrypted VPN (4, Insightful)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951545)

That's ok for the likes of you and me but what about your average Joe Public who doesn't even know what a VPN is. Yes the techies like us can circumvent this but this legislation will effect every one not just us.

Re:Encrypted VPN (2)

qbast (1265706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951711)

That's why it should be server-side effort. Switch as many websites as possible to https, use imaps and smpt+tls for email. Then the biggest remaining hole would be DNS.

Re:Encrypted VPN (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951883)

Just to add to the list: encrypt your emails. Get in to the habit. Last time I checked, most of the people tend to use envelopes for the rl letters, so why should not people use digital protection for their emails?

Re:Encrypted VPN (2)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952279)

If email encryption is as easy to open and repackage as an envelope, you may as well not bother.

Re:Encrypted VPN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951835)

I'd be of the opinion that this would generate sufficient groundswell of opinion that a more user-friendly app would find a marketplace as a result. Hell, ToR is reasonably easy to set up for enthusiast-level bods, it's not exactly high-end geekery these days. Similarly VPN services are becoming much more ubiquitous as additional reasons to use them become apparent.

Re:Encrypted VPN (2)

sleiper (1772326) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952183)

But I don't see why a company in the VPN market can not come up with a simple consumer product that would encrypt a users traffic. There has been some proliferation of this type of idea for users of public WiFi connections, ie a one-click third party app that anonymises internet traffic. I can see a market for this type of product if enough of a buzz is made about it. Of course this just draws attention to a nice little work-around that we have, and might focus attention on combating it, but judging by how cack-handed governments are when it comes it this area, I doubt it.

I'm happy now (0)

Roderic9 (2454194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951453)

No, not really.
At least if there were Black Boxes we could hope that the data would go only to GCHQ and not be subject to ad hoc perusal by any old public body. This 'back-tracking' takes even that benefit away.

the queen never backtracks... (3, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39951853)

We are at war with Eurasia...we have always been at war with Eurasia

Re:the queen never backtracks... (1)

doston (2372830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955715)

We are at war with Eurasia...we have always been at war with Eurasia

Orwell is all well and good, but things are stacking up to be much more Huxley-ish.

in case it does get through, here's the solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39951975)

step 1 setup web server that only delivers goatse or 2girls1cup with random filenames, compression rates, pixel size, and cropping ratio's
step 2 setup a proxy in the UK
step 3 run a script to query the web-server every second
step 4 laugh maniacally while you imagine all those twits who'll be forced to watch goatse all day long =D

Wait for it... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39952557)

George Orwell [wikipedia.org] was English.

For what it's worth.

Which was apparently not much. :(

Problem Reaction Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956297)

I see some here get it.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>