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UK Government To Revise Snooping Bill

timothy posted about a year ago | from the ok-maybe-they-shouldn't-call-it-a-snooping-bill dept.

Privacy 79

megla writes "The BBC is reporting that the Draft Communications Bill is going to be re-written following widespread opposition. The hugely controversial bill would, as it stands, require ISPs to retain vast amounts of data and grant broad powers to authorities to access it, in some cases without needing any permission at all. For those who are interested in the gritty details the first parliamentary report into the legislation is sharply critical at times. This is good news for anyone in the UK who values their privacy, but it may not be enough. Many would prefer to see the bill scrapped entirely." Opposition to the bill, at least in its original form, isn't just from crazy civil libertarian types, either; reader judgecorp points out that it even includes Deputy prime minister of Britain Nick Clegg.

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79 comments

No to big brother! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42250589)

It doesn't need to be revised, it needs to be scrapped!

Re:No to big brother! (2)

telchine (719345) | about a year ago | (#42250639)

[quote]It doesn't need to be revised, it needs to be scrapped![/quote]

If you outlaw snooping, only outlaws will be snoops... no, wait!

Re:No to big brother! (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year ago | (#42250725)

Exactly. Statistics show in cities with loose regulations on snooping have lower crime rates. If everyone snoops then the criminals will all be scared to do anything for fear of being snooped on. They can take my snooping from me when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

Re:No to big brother! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42251281)

There's a quotation about Ben Franklin that should come right around here.

Re:No to big brother! (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#42253171)

"Lightning makes for a shocking experience"

Is that the quote you were referring to?

Re:No to big brother! (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#42254303)

"Lightning makes for a shocking experience"

Is that the quote you were referring to?

Or was it "Where the hell did I put that key?"

Re:No to big brother! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42253463)

... then the criminals will all be scared to do anything ...

No. The criminals (lawyers, bankers, CEOs) will use anti-snooping devices, or the criminals (politicians, police men, social workers) will claim they are above this law.

Remember: The law is for the benefit of rich people, not you.

Bill follows hot on the heels... (3, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about a year ago | (#42250811)

...of the National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2030 report [bloomberg.com] , where:

...major trends are the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a rising middle class whose demands challenge governments, and a Gordian knot of water, food and energy shortages, according to the analysts.

[enormous caches of data] will enable governments to “figure out and predict what people are going to be doing” and “get more control over society,”

Make no mistake, we (collectively) pose a risk to the power of the 0.1% going forward, and bills like this are being pushed through in "democratic" nations worldwide. Sadly we as a group always seem to vote against our best interests, so being aware of the long term trend is probably not going to change anything (thanks corporate media).

Re:Bill follows hot on the heels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42258253)

I come from the country where we actually had to kick the (communist) rulers out of their comfy positions. I was a teenager at the time but I do remember that and I somehow do not trust the gov. However I also do not trust my fellow citizens to make good choices esp. in times of despair and this means to I have only few choices and none of them easy: ignore, try to influence and control the controller or organize an anarchist revolution (organize and anarchy in one sentence - outch). From the 3 options I guess only 'control the controller' is more or less feasible. Other than that we already run out of inhabited but habitable continents that we can migrate to in order to organize our own republic (or whatever) ourselves. I am afraid just rejecting it will not do then - you have to give gov. some means to do its job and control it at this or else you will be exposed to groups of morons that do enjoy violent ways.

As expected ... (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year ago | (#42250633)

As you smash one down they keep coming back with another version. How about a bill to make this sort of thing illegal?

Re:As expected ... (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#42250677)

Good idea, but wouldn't that just reverse what's happening now? "us" and "them" will just trade places and the circus continues.

Re:As expected ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42250689)

One parliament can't bind the next, so that's impossible to achieve under UK law.

Re:As expected ... (3, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | about a year ago | (#42250741)

That implies that someone could undo all this madness induced lawmaking that government has been up to lately.

Clegg's making a stand against it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42250645)

That presumably means that it'll wind up getting passed in an even worse form.

For those not familiar with UK politics, he's the member of a minority party who formed a coalition government with the Tories. He's managed to pretty much destroy his party's political future since then: they've lost their "protest vote party" status to UKIP, who are the people who split the bigot vote in the last election.

That he has been outmaneuvered at every turn by a bunch of upper-class twits isn't his main sin. He also managed to sign a pledge prior to the election and then have each and every one of his MPs vote against the direction they'd promised. At least he apologised. For making a promise he couldn't keep, not for not keeping the promise. People _expect_ the Nasty Party to be nasty; the electorate are just (naively, perhaps) surprised and disappointed by the incompetence of the coalition partner.

In seriousness, the LIb Dems won't actually stand a chance again without dissolving and reforming (rebranding) their ranks.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#42250777)

For those not familiar with UK politics, I'll just point out here that some of the claims in the parent AC post are objectively wrong. For example, not all Lib Dem MPs reneged on the tuition fees commitment (the pledge mentioned by the parent poster).

And the apology [youtube.com] was funny...

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42251273)

For those unfamiliar with UK politics, Nick Clegg is the member of a minority party that gained power as part of a coalition. A lot of people who voted for them are unhappy that, in joining the coalition, they've had to make some compromises and have only managed to achieve some of their objectives. These people would, presumably, much rather that they'd stayed out and achieved none of them, allowing smug LibDem voters to keep claiming that things aren't their fault.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42259031)

For those unfamiliar with UK politics, Nick Clegg is the member of a minority party that gained power as part of a coalition. A lot of people who voted for them are unhappy that, in joining the coalition, they've had to make some compromises and have only managed to achieve some of their objectives. These people would, presumably, much rather that they'd stayed out and achieved none of them, allowing smug LibDem voters to keep claiming that things aren't their fault.

The point was that the LibDems only did so well because a lot of people were prepared to vote tactically. In my constituency, the chances of a Labour candidate winning are approximately the same as my winning the National Lottery two weeks running, so the argument was that it's better to vote LibDem in the hope of beating the Tories, rather than "waste" your vote on Labour.

The LibDem won, but then they formed a coalition with the fucking Tories anyway, which had never been suggested, and when the far more natural fit would have been with Labour.

As a result, people like me will never, ever vote LibDem again, in any circumstances whatsoever. This is unfair on a great many LibDems who are probably principled people with many good ideas, but it's true. At the next election, their vote will hopefully plummet back to 1970s levels and they'll probably end up with fewer MPs than UKIP. This is not a good thing, but it's their own stupid fault.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42251327)

The people, that is the British people, opted not to give anyone a clear majority, and that means that promises made prior to the election are pretty much swept away. If the British people wished the Liberal Democrats to keep their promises, they should have given them a majority in the House of Commons.

I'm not necessarily trying to defend the LibDems here, but since no one saw fit to elect any party as a majority government, it's hard to go back after the fact and decry that no one is keeping their word. The voters picked this Parliament, they have to live with it.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#42251445)

Then there should have been a hung parliament. 20% of the total electorate voted Labour in last time. That's less than the amount of adult smokers ffs.

Even less voted for Conservative this time, but marginally more than Labour. Somehow a coalition representing a quarter of the population's preference was deemed acceptable. It's bollocks.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about a year ago | (#42251677)

About time we got rid of FPTP and had some sort of proportional representation. Alternative Vote was never enough, it didn't please those who wanted to stick with FPTP, and certainly didn't for those that want a system such as STV.

I really want proportional representation. I want my friend who may have voted for a different party and didn't get in to power because of FPTP to have some representation even if I find their views barbaric.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42251777)

AV was better than nothing, and it was rejected. With AV in place parties that would have moved to a "purer" form of proportional representation like STV would have at least a moderately greater chance of being elected. But a rejection of AV essentially killed electoral reform for Westminster for at least a generation. It's rejection was also pretty much a rejection of all things LibDem, since this was the big ticket item in the coalition agreement that Clegg and Cameron had negotiated. From the AV referendum's failure then came Lords reform failure (though the proposed reforms are a dog's breakfast), and all the other humiliations that have lead the LibDems to the brink of electoral oblivion.

Besides, proportional representation would make the kind of coalition people seem to now hate pretty much permanent. Beware of what you ask for.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42251739)

And the British electorate had the chance to get rid of FPTP voting in favor of an AV system, and they rejected that. So that tells me the voters like the kinds of Parliaments they get.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about a year ago | (#42253865)

No, it just confirms that voters are easily fooled by propaganda because they are incurious, and tend not to think about why they are told to do certain things.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42253959)

If the voters are easily fooled, then why would electoral reform improve the matter? If the most basic unit of the electoral exercise is the simpering idiot you suggest, then clearly it matters little the precise nature of picking representatives.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#42254599)

No, it tells you that the voters in the referendum thought they'd prefer the current kind of Parliament more than the alternative they were being offered. You can't logically read any more into the result than that.

In fact, a significant part of the "no" campaign was arguing that if the electorate positively endorsed AV, that would be even worse than sticking with the previous arrangement, because then anyone who wanted any form of actual PR later would have to overcome the claims of "but the people voted for the system we've got".

I would agree that the advocates for change, particularly the Lib Dems, were totally politically outplayed by those who stood to gain from leaving things as they were. The end result might still be an equally solid "no longer on the table" response to any attempt at reform in the near future.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42259073)

And the British electorate had the chance to get rid of FPTP voting in favor of an AV system, and they rejected that. So that tells me the voters like the kinds of Parliaments they get.

Oddly, there wasn't a great deal of enthusiasm from the Tories (the senior partners in the government) for AV or anyother form of proportional reprsentation. The AV compromise presented to the public was unenthusiastically promoted, badly explained and never going to inspire anyone much.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

manicb (1633645) | about a year ago | (#42255907)

This is a pretty disingenuous argument, and one that is used by disappointingly frequently by squirming Lib Dems. This is the wording of the pledge:

“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”

Nothing about being in government, and it's pretty clear that the wording allows for them being in a coalition. This was a personal promise made by individuals, not just a manifesto point.

Re:Clegg's making a stand against it. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42259049)

The people, that is the British people, opted not to give anyone a clear majority, and that means that promises made prior to the election are pretty much swept away. If the British people wished the Liberal Democrats to keep their promises, they should have given them a majority in the House of Commons.

I'm not necessarily trying to defend the LibDems here, but since no one saw fit to elect any party as a majority government, it's hard to go back after the fact and decry that no one is keeping their word. The voters picked this Parliament, they have to live with it.

Yes, but the LibDems should never have agreed to be the junior partner in a coalition with the Tories in the first place. It would have made infinitely more sense to do a deal with Labour, they are far closer idiologically.

It's just that at the time, there was so much anti-Gordon Brown hysteria in the media, that Nick Clegg thought he was being clever by picking Cameron, when anyone with an ounce of political sense could have told him he was fucking himself and his party up for the next generation or two.

Crazy civil libertarian types? (4, Insightful)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year ago | (#42250647)

Opposition to the bill, at least in its original form, isn't just from crazy civil libertarian types, either; reader judgecorp points out that it even includes Deputy prime minister of Britain Nick Clegg.

So now, even on Slashdot, anyone who gives a damn about their privacy is "crazy"? The Ministry of Truth is doing a superb job.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#42250793)

The Ministry of Truth is doing a superb job.

I think you meant plus good or double plus good.

Yep. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42250799)

Thanks to the conservative media, Civil Liberties has become a "Liberal" issue.

If you're a law abiding citizen, then you have nothing to worry about; therefore, you don't need Civil Liberties.

Of course what folks fail to realize is that there are so many laws on the books, everyone breaks at least three per day on average. We are all criminals in some shape or form.

I wish there was a satire website that would follow politicians and publish their criminal activity. Example: Well, this PM ( or Senator depending on country) broke the 1831 law on [fill in the blank of archaic or stupid law].

Keep doing that until legislatures are so ashamed of the law that maybe they do something about it.

Re:Yep. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251113)

Thanks to the conservative media, Civil Liberties has become a "Liberal" issue.

I believe you have that exactly backwards. Thanks to the Liberal media, Civil Liberties has become a "Conservative" issue. And "Conservative" is synonymous with racist, even though Liberals are the racists.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#42250845)

I'm sincerely hoping the submitter was being sarcastic about that. Because civil liberties shouldn't be a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue, it should be an every-wing issue. It's the fundamental idea of modern democracy, and should never be negotiable.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (3, Informative)

megla (859600) | about a year ago | (#42250967)

I'm sincerely hoping the submitter was being sarcastic about that. Because civil liberties shouldn't be a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue, it should be an every-wing issue. It's the fundamental idea of modern democracy, and should never be negotiable.

As the submitter, I'd like to point out that the final paragraph was added by the editor and I also think the "crazy libertarians" line is a little weird, especially for somewhere like Slashdot which has generally liberal views on technology and privacy.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42251077)

I also think the "crazy libertarians" line is a little weird, especially for somewhere like Slashdot which has generally liberal views on technology and privacy

Are you aware of the fact that liberals and libertarians aren't necessarily the same set?

Paul Ryan is a Libertarian. Kennedy was a liberal.

They mean different things.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#42251157)

And despite that, libertarians and liberals generally have the same views on when a government should be allowed to spy on a citizen: only when the law enforcement can demonstrate probable cause that the citizen in question has committed a crime.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42251239)

And that might be well one of the few things they agree on. Almost everything else about what a government is for and should be doing isn't going to match up at all.

Though, nowadays it seems like everybody is pushing for more surveillance and erosion of rights in the name of security theater.

Sadly, everyone who loudly says governments should be backing off and not be so intrusive, be they 'left' or 'right' leaning, are all lumped into the category of "crazy" and dismissed.

I'm pretty sure this might be one of the few issues where the ACLU and the Libertarians agree on much.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251603)

First, apologies first for US "blokes" speaking speaking from our point of view but it is from where we stand, even if we are not always sure where that is or what we see.

Now as to the parent's comment on liberals: Liberal is one of the many terms corrupted and co-opted by media and political spin. Originally applied as basically: "Free from Govern(ance)(ment)". And yep, Slashdotters will see the obvious morphing already. Taking away Free as in Freedom and trying to make it Free as in Beer from the government while making noises about getting the 1% to pay when in reality it takes contributions from everyone in some fashion.

Here in the US they been borrowing money (often just on paper as a swap from one barrel to another with money extorted as retirement funds for Americans) and simply running the printing presses. Both moves fuel inflation which amusingly they count on to cover old debts but is like living off your credit cards and spiraling out of control. This is funding things like more restricted travel, training the population to be sheep, more pens for the non-compliant and simply to fuel the fear machine, etc, etc, etc... To have good sheeple they must "willingly accept" the shepherd and his donkeys and dogs in whatever form they come in, including digital. We are at war with the Big Bad Wolf, we have always been at war with the Big Bad Wolf!.

Now you can go to the pub and have a pint while shaking your heads like parents disappointed in themselves thinking "and we taught them no better then this?" Am sure the old East German and USSR etc folks who also have descendents of former countrymen here think the same...

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

telchine (719345) | about a year ago | (#42251117)

As the submitter, I'd like to point out that the final paragraph was added by the editor

If it was easier for him to snoop then the parent would have been able to see this from your Internet records and you wouldn't have had to clear this issue up!

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#42251361)

I'm sincerely hoping the submitter was being sarcastic about that. Because civil liberties shouldn't be a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue, it should be an every-wing issue. It's the fundamental idea of modern democracy, and should never be negotiable.

The modern-day USA suffers from bipolar illness. Absolutely nothing is safe from "with-us-or-against-us", even if it's only which end of an egg to crack open.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251559)

The modern-day USA suffers from bipolar illness. Absolutely nothing is safe from "with-us-or-against-us"

Which becomes problematic for dealing with everybody else in the world.

Bush famously said "you're either with us or you are with the terrorists".

If the option is between an illiterate chimp who wanted to invade the wrong country (and for which none of the stated reasons proved true) and "being with the terrorists", a lot of places decided they weren't going to go along with the stupidity.

America has become a country who speaks in ultimatums and thinly veiled threats. They've become the asshole from down the street who is nosy and tells you how you should live your life, all the while continuing to beat his wife and kids, and smoking crack.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#42259563)

As a rallying cry, Bush's declaration was as close to resembling a real leader as he ever got.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous people then took it and applied it to every dodgy political action they could get away with. Don't support Guantanamo? You must be a terrorist sympathizer! Alarmed by the Patriot Act? Why do you hate America? Don't want to wear a flag pin? You traitor, you hate our Freedoms!

The actual fracturing of the USA into polarized factions, I consider to go further back than 9/11 - back to at least the Reagan administration when "liberal" became a 4-letter word instead of just the group of wrong-headed idiots on the other side. However, post-9/11, polarization progressed to the point where it has become practically a religion. Our representatives spend more time attempting to sabotage "the Enemy" than they do in supporting their country.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#42253255)

As the submitter, I'd like to point out that the final paragraph was added by the editor...

Why am I not surprised? [slashdot.org]

...and I also think the "crazy libertarians" line is a little weird, especially for somewhere like Slashdot which has generally liberal views on technology and privacy.

More than a little weird when you realise the the UK doesn't have Libertarian parties in the same sense that the US uses the word; the coalition is made of of Conservatives and Liberals.

I try not to rant (too much) about free services but please, timothy, you need to do a better job of editing before you should start editorialising. It's bad enough seeing ill-informed comments without you added to the mix.

Re:Crazy civil libertarian types? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42259105)

Opposition to the bill, at least in its original form, isn't just from crazy civil libertarian types, either; reader judgecorp points out that it even includes Deputy prime minister of Britain Nick Clegg.

So now, even on Slashdot, anyone who gives a damn about their privacy is "crazy"? The Ministry of Truth is doing a superb job.

No, because if you take slashdot posters as an example, a lot of libertarian types are crazy. However right they are about privacy and liberty issues, their extreme anti-government rhetoric tars the whole package with the same loony brush.

Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (3, Insightful)

tiberus (258517) | about a year ago | (#42250877)

While I would be appalled if such a measure came up on this side of the pond; although we do seemingly allow Facebook and insert any company with an online presence here to do a lot of data collection; I am somewhat surprised to hear about this apparent level of outrage from Britain.

The U.K. has been monitoring its citizens via a network of CCTV cameras for sometime and they appear to be especially prevalent in cities such as London where we have been lead to believe that your movements are recorded as soon as you step onto the street.

Has the line finally been crossed?

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251229)

You'll find few people in the UK who particularly care about CCTV cameras one way or another. Whatever theoretical drawbacks they have, there are few practical issues with them, while there is a measurable reduction in crime rate. And the taking of footage of us in public doesn't qualify as a privacy issue anyway.

But no one can see much crime-fighting benefit in storing everyone's internet traffic for months, while the drawbacks in terms of ISP costs, which will be passed to the customer, are obvious. And this is a genuine privacy issue, since I consider my emails to my brother or girlfriend to be private in a way that my movements in public are not.

So I'm not sure why you think we don't care about privacy. The UK actually has the strongest existing data privacy laws of any Western country, so far as I am aware. The Data Protection Act was passed in the 80s before the internet and before there was really any need for it. The US has nothing like it. (CCTV gathering is subject to the DPA act, by the way, and people monitoring the feeds have to be licensed.)

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (2)

tiberus (258517) | about a year ago | (#42252283)

You'll find few people in the UK who particularly care about CCTV cameras one way or another. Whatever theoretical drawbacks they have, there are few practical issues with them, while there is a measurable reduction in crime rate. And the taking of footage of us in public doesn't qualify as a privacy issue anyway.

Granted I may be wrong in terms of the scope of camera availability. I'd argue that whether this is a privacy issue isn't that clear cut. While a private citizen taking video in public may not be a privacy issue, the collection and storage of video with current technology, facial recognition, etc. is something I would consider a serious privacy issue. The potential for malicious use is too high. Knowing where I am is one things, knowing where I was, how long I was there, how often I was there, etc. is another...

But no one can see much crime-fighting benefit in storing everyone's internet traffic for months, while the drawbacks in terms of ISP costs, which will be passed to the customer, are obvious. And this is a genuine privacy issue, since I consider my emails to my brother or girlfriend to be private in a way that my movements in public are not.

Point taken.

So I'm not sure why you think we don't care about privacy. The UK actually has the strongest existing data privacy laws of any Western country, so far as I am aware. The Data Protection Act was passed in the 80s before the internet and before there was really any need for it. The US has nothing like it. (CCTV gathering is subject to the DPA act, by the way, and people monitoring the feeds have to be licensed.)

Ignorance, difference of opinion, culture, available information . . . Having never been to Britain and having met very few from the U.K. I am left with the reality created by the media I consume as it is colored by personal experience. We must work with the given framework and adjust whenever we find that the structure of our framework doesn't fit our newly perceived reality.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#42251339)

although we do seemingly allow Facebook and insert any company with an online presence here to do a lot of data collection

The difference being we willingly provide that info to those companies; there's no law that forces Facebook et al to record user data. In the case of CCTV, it is all around us, but only in public areas. However, the Snooping Bill would have required ISPs to record private data without our knowledge/permission, so yes it's crossed a line.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251449)

Has the line finally been crossed?

The arbitrary line here, for me at least, is drawn at "government installs equipment to MITM SSL connections". The problem being that the only people who will have their traffic sniffed will be those not competent enough to use a VPN. This news is probably just alerting the bad guys to the dangers of sending stuff around in plaintext. A good opportunity to invest in off-shore VPN providers though.

As far as "allowing" Facebook et al. to collect, you can opt-out - set your browser to ignore cookies and block any people you don't like in your firewall/hosts. The scenario this legislation would bring in is more invasive - you can't opt out by not talking to the man in the middle - you have to actively circumvent it. I guess both would be viewed the same way to Joe Public the technophobe though, just stuff you have to deal with.

CCTV is a different thing - you're out in public while it's watching so the notion of privacy invasion is much reduced. The perception of Britain having lots of CCTV is mostly due to a study from London. There are lots, but London is a big city; private companies are also allowed to install them on their premises. I'm not sure lots of cameras equates to "surveilling citizens 24/7", but I do see the similarity.

Can we kill this meme please? (3, Insightful)

andrewbaldwin (442273) | about a year ago | (#42251541)

I wish someone would kill this meme once and for all.

The source for the "Government CCTV everywhere" myth was a reporter looking at a sample street and extrapolating. A bit like taking the population density of downtown LA, Chicago or New York and applying it to the whole US land area and saying the US population was tens of billions [I'm too lazy to work out the figures but I hope you get the idea].

The overwhelming majority of CCTV cameras are privately owned (therefore they must be good in Slashdot groupthink) and not controlled by/accessible to the government/police/spooks... Even when they may have captured evidence of a crime it's non trivial for the authorities to get hold of the data and when they do, given the screenings shown on TV appeals*, the recordings are of such poor quality that it's debatable why they're there at all.

If anything you have more anonymity nowadays than a generation or two ago when a whole army of little "old ladies sitting behind net curtains" and gossiping about the goings on of people in the street was the norm -- still probably the case in smaller communities everywhere.

If you're really concerned, you have a right under current data protection laws to see/be given a copy of recordings where you are identifiable; not sure if anyone has ever bothered with this.

Now this proposed bill, on the other hand, is a completely different matter; the level of outrage is a feature of people faced with a first past the post electoral system that favours two parties who are more similar than different -- should be familiar to you too ;-)

Please don't equate British people with our MPs

*There's a programme on BBC every month or so where they appeal for help in solving some cases and show CCTV footage and re-enactments.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#42251899)

Just for the record, CCTV isn't nearly as simple an ethical issue as you're implying there. While the cameras installed a few years ago generate low quality imagery, modern ones can film you in glorious HD and full colour from a considerable distance. Moreover, facial recognition technology exists that could match you up against those handy computer-friendly photos you have to provide for passports and driving licences these days with a useful level of accuracy, meaning the authorities could literally establish a system to record your every move within areas covered by CCTV and stick it in one big database. (Don't think they'd do it? The national vehicle number plate scanning systems were installed by law enforcement quietly without ever really raising the issue in Parliament.)

Combine that with the really sinister stuff like snooping into conversations from a considerable distance or analysing people's movements (literally, the way they walk) to guess whether they have dubious intentions, and you've got all the key elements for a national thoughtcrime screening process. CCTV and related technologies are not your friend if you believe in civil liberties and the freedoms of individuals over the power of the state.

Obviously there are genuine concerns about security and crime prevention/detection that have to balance all of this. The difficult thing is figuring out what a reasonable balance is, given that technology is far ahead of the related ethics debates and any attempt to codify those ethics in actual laws.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42254881)

To reiterate:

The overwhelming majority of CCTV cameras are privately owned

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42260489)

Even if there was blanket CCTV coverage available live to the police, they would only be using it to find and convict criminals. And if you get caught and convicted of a crime, you get no sympathy from me (assuming you're guilty). I know people on slashdot like to think the government just makes up arbitrary laws to get undesirables thrown in jail, but in the real world, most people caught by CCTV are engaging in drunken fighting, not political protest.

If you're not guilty of anything, then society has a far worse problem than the physical means that are used to fit you up.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#42263521)

Even if there was blanket CCTV coverage available live to the police, they would only be using it to find and convict criminals.

Ah, yes, if we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to fear. Except incompetence or malice, that is.

I admire your optimism, but having personally been on the wrong side of a government screw-up involving mistaken identity (in my case, tax-related rather than criminal), I can assure you that they do make mistakes. Moreover, I can also testify that even if your life is being turned upside down as a result, and even if the situation described by their collective databases is clearly absurd and the records are obviously contradictory, there might still be no-one on the other side who gets informed automatically or is even in a position to help you when contacted directly.

I can also tell you from personal experience that although CCTV might theoretically be monitoring an area, whether anyone in authority can be bothered to look it up even if you're reporting a significant theft is far from certain. And of course if there's any hint that the authorities themselves might have done anything wrong, the cameras were magically all down for maintenance. So CCTV is of limited value to individuals who are the victims of crime or abuse. Moreover, evidence about CCTV reducing crime levels often says on page 2 that the crime levels in neighbouring areas without CCTV increased by a similar amount, so the benefits as a deterrent are questionable as well.

If you're not guilty of anything, then society has a far worse problem than the physical means that are used to fit you up.

Yes it does. Our justice system is deeply flawed in many ways.

But that's life, to some extent. There are always elements of "necessary evil" in government and there are always balances to be struck between the need to penalise the guilty effectively and the need to protect the innocent from becoming collateral damage. The number of people required to get everything in government right and the amount of money required to fund it is prohibitive, assuming you could ever find enough willing and able people to achieve it.

So, while in principle I would be happy to see a constitution-level law that says any government department or agent with any kind of statutory powers must also provide a fast and effective means of correcting mistakes or forfeit the right to use those powers at all (up to and including things like revoking HMRC's right to collect taxes or revoking the police's right to arrest people), I recognise that such a black/white system is extremely unlikely to be practical. The negative consequences of losing the good work would probably outweigh the benefits of preventing bad work. Instead, I prefer to limit the powers the government has to those it absolutely requires and the specific parts of government that absolutely require them, and in particular to restrict or abolish any powers that would be easy to abuse whether deliberately or inadvertently unless there is a clearly demonstrable benefit to having them anyway. I have yet to be convinced that such a clearly demonstrable benefit exists for almost anything involving words like security and surveillance.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42252247)

The overwhelming majority of CCTV cameras are privately owned (therefore they must be good in Slashdot groupthink) and not controlled by/accessible to the government/police/spooks

Why would we think that?

In the US, the PATRIOT act can compel someone to hand over the information without any real judicial oversight and a requirement they don't tell anybody. I assume the UK is about the same.

Increasingly, the data private industry collects on us can get into government hands quite readily.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year ago | (#42255067)

In the US, the PATRIOT act can compel someone to hand over the information without any real judicial oversight and a requirement they don't tell anybody. I assume the UK is about the same.

As far as I know, you still need a court order in the UK. http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/the_guide/~/media/documents/library/Data_Protection/Detailed_specialist_guides/SECTION_29_GPN_V1.ashx [ico.gov.uk]

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

robsku (1381635) | about a year ago | (#42270581)

The overwhelming majority of CCTV cameras are privately owned (therefore they must be good in Slashdot groupthink) and not controlled by/accessible to the government/police/spooks

Why would we think that?

In the US, the PATRIOT act can compel someone to hand over the information without any real judicial oversight and a requirement they don't tell anybody. I assume the UK is about the same.

PATRIOT act is US insanity, I haven't heard of equivalent in other 1st world western countries.

Re:Can we kill this meme please? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42260295)

The overwhelming majority of CCTV cameras are privately owned (therefore they must be good in Slashdot groupthink) and not controlled by/accessible to the government/police/spooks... Even when they may have captured evidence of a crime it's non trivial for the authorities to get hold of the data and when they do, given the screenings shown on TV appeals*, the recordings are of such poor quality that it's debatable why they're there at all.

The private CCTV cameras are there for basically the same reasons that big padlocks are:

1. To deter amateur opportunists, and

2. To give evidence of a crime for insurance purposes.

The idea that all these cameras are linked into a central police command centre in order to provide live 24/7 blanket surveillance of Britain is risible.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about a year ago | (#42252307)

Public CCTV has a different nature to it, making it less bothersome.

Most importantly, it tracks you when you are already out in public and therefore cannot reasonably expect much privacy anyway.

Secondly, but also important, there are open rules and regs. You require licence to operate CCTV which covers public land, and this is (well, theoretically) viewable by the public who can file an objection to it - and take court action if you want. This includes local/national government cameras.

Thirdly, the nature of the data. The online tracking would be constant and it would be very easy to obtain a complete listing of any individual's communications, which could be processed very efficiently. With CCTV footage, it's not just some massive database to query. Various organisations hold the data, and it's difficult and efficient to find you on it. It's just too inefficient to go around snooping on a whim or on the sly.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252543)

Most importantly, it tracks you when you are already out in public and therefore cannot reasonably expect much privacy anyway.

BS. I cannot reasonably expect that no person will look at me, but I can reasonably expect that I'm not being tracked everywhere I go by cameras. The differences between someone seeing you and a camera seeing you are astronomical.

And even if the camera belongs to a business, the government usually always finds ways to make use of it. So basically, the government can outsource its spying to private companies and everything is a-okay.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42260599)

BS. I cannot reasonably expect that no person will look at me, but I can reasonably expect that I'm not being tracked everywhere I go by cameras. The differences between someone seeing you and a camera seeing you are astronomical.

It would be trivial to use some very basic counter-surveillance techniques if you wanted to avoid being monitored by CCTV cameras. For a start, despite what Americans seem to think, they don't cover most streets even in London, it's mainly busy junctions, and that's assuming you count all the privately owned CCTV cameras as part of the same hideous network.

If you don't think counter-surveillance is necessary (and for a normal person it isn't) then it just shows you have nothing to worry about in the first place.

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | about a year ago | (#42254737)

"The U.K. has been monitoring its citizens via a network of CCTV cameras for sometime and they appear to be especially prevalent in cities such as London where we have been lead to believe that your movements are recorded as soon as you step onto the street."

I live in Tottenham North London (a rather notorious area for riots) and I only see CCTV cameras on major roads.
There is one speed camera just down the road but that has been non-operational since it was installed several years ago.

Plus, here is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118714764716998275.html [wsj.com] :)

Re:Brits Want 'Digital' Privacy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42259199)

The U.K. has been monitoring its citizens via a network of CCTV cameras for sometime and they appear to be especially prevalent in cities such as London where we have been lead to believe that your movements are recorded as soon as you step onto the street.

US posters are always saying things like this, as though the UK had installed BigBrother-style telescreens in everyone's home to monitor them.

In fact, CCTV only sees what is on public streets. If you get caught for committing a crime by CCTV evidence, so what? You don't have a right to privacy in the fucking High Street.

Luckily there is no other ways to rewrite.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42251495)

... the word "NO!"

And it is well know that when you say something enough others will start believing it.

Soooo... keep saying it for the really hard headed governments.

Re:Luckily there is no other ways to rewrite.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42251897)

You have obvious no experience of the UK Civil Service.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-_vFosXhVU

Opposed by opposition (1)

JonathanCombe (642832) | about a year ago | (#42253899)

In the UK the two main political parties are Labour and Conservative. A very similar bill was proposed by the previous Labour government. The Conservative party, then in opposition, strongly opposed it. Now it is the Conservative party who are pushing for this legislation and the Labour party that is opposing it. This indicates why you can never trust politicians. When they are in power they do exactly what they were against when they were out of power. Governments are increasingly run by big business for the benefit of big business. Continuing to vote for the two main parties will mean no real change in policies.

Re:Opposed by opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42255559)

That's because the pressure for these powers comes not from the government or big business but from the civil service, who are technically politically neutral (meaning they apply exactly the same lobbying to whoever happens to form the government of the day). The opposition are largely free of this pressure, so they have more freedom to actually take the stance that will appeal to the public.

Re:Opposed by opposition (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42260631)

Despite the flirtations of New Labour with sucking up to the rich, the Labour party is inherently anti-big business as it is on at least some level socialist.

There are much greater differences between UK (and European) political parties than in the US.

Re:Opposed by opposition (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#42261215)

Yes, bless the Lib Dems if on nothing else at least they've been consistent on this in opposing it both in and out of government.

"crazy" (1)

Sean (422) | about a year ago | (#42257189)

How dare you, after everything that's transpired over the last 10 years, call us "crazy civil libertarian types".

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