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Critics fear that citizens sleepwalk into the arms of Big Brother

The UK government wants a massive database to store the web, e-mail, and phone histories of every person in the country – and is unveiling new telecommunications legislation to implement it.

Technology is changing too fast, said a spokeswoman for the UK Home Office, and current progress is undermining law enforcement’s ability to obtain data and “use it to protect the public.”

Such legislation would update the country’s laws, giving the government and law enforcement officials an expanded ability to obtain communications records essential for counter-terrorism and fighting crime. Under the new legislation, law enforcement would receive a brand new, centralized database of communications records, giving officers a one-stop shop for comprehensive reports on a person’s communications activities.

Ross Anderson, chairman of think-tank Foundation for Information Policy Research, thinks that such a database would require network providers to undergo substantial redesigns of their networks. As a result, service providers “would simply move abroad” rather than play ball with the government.

“It's an enormous power grab by the Home Office, and to think it will become a reality is wishful thinking,” said Anderson.

Such a database would add a considerable amount of information to the country’s already large surveillance program, complementing controversial plans for a national Identity Register and corresponding ID card that were delayed to 2012.Together, with new face-recognition technology in surveillance cameras, and comprehensive national ID and communications databases, government officials would have the ability to take a seemingly intimate view into ordinary citizens’ lives, documenting previously anonymous data with startling efficiency.

Naturally, civil rights groups, IT experts, activists, and security professionals are concerned about the initiative – particularly given previous programs’ lack of effectiveness and the government’s spotty security record.

“This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records,” said assistant Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford. “We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society.”

A communications database created per the proposal would be forced to record the almost 57 billion text messages and 3 billion e-mails sent annually in the UK, a security prospect that industry officials are concerned about attracting abuse.

“Given [ministers’] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people’s sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to [national] security, than a support,” said Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.

“Holding large collections of data is always risky - the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen,” said Bamford.

Government police and security forces would be able to access the database only for records authorized by court warrant.

Jamie Cowper, director of European marketing at security company PGP Corp., panned the idea.

“You've got to admire the government's gall in attempting to bring in yet another 'super-database' with public confidence still in tatters over recent lapses in data protection,” said Cowper.

PC World reports that the Internet Service Providers’ Association is taking a “wait-and-see” approach before it weighs in, but it expressed concern about modifications that ISPs would have to make to their businesses and infrastructure.

Home Office officials note that much of the information desired is already available, albeit spread across different companies. This creates an unnecessary time sink and hampers investigations, it said, and a new, central database would allow law enforcement and security officials to work more efficiently.

Full details will be released as part of a data communications bill set to be announced this November. Ministers have yet to see or approve the plans for inclusion in upcoming drafts.



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RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By TomCorelis on 5/21/2008 11:08:24 PM , Rating: 3
They certainly could have used more when the Germans came, so they called us!

Switzerland has very nice gun laws though... everyday citizens walking around the streets with automatics strapped to their backs. I read somewhere that they have one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Makes me want to live in Switzerland.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By deeznuts on 5/22/2008 12:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Their liberal gun laws make you want to live in Switzerland? Pfft, for me it's the national bikini team!


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By deeznuts on 5/22/2008 12:59:14 AM , Rating: 2
Oops, wrong country. That would be sweden. Sveden, svitzerland, what's the difference?


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By BarkHumbug on 5/22/2008 5:17:54 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Sveden, svitzerland, what's the difference?

To those who live there: Humongous.
To an American idiot: None at all.

quote:
Americans are far from alone in the world, but from the perspective of many young Americans, we might as well be. Most young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 demonstrate a limited understanding of the world , and they place insufficient importance on the basic geographic skills that might enhance their knowledge.


http://www.nationalgeographic.com/roper2006/findin...


By AlphaVirus on 5/22/2008 12:43:54 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
In total, 510 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of 18- to 24-year old adults in the continental United States, using an in-home, in-person methodology.

You are going to tell me 510 people can judge what over 15mil people 18-24 know?

Barkhumbug, you should reconsider who you call the idiot.

I will admit some of the things they failed to know is astonishing but at the same time they show no record where they found these people. For all we know, they picked some retarded, homeless people from some booney town in Idaho.

While it does shock me that only 75% of the people could not find Iran on a map, if it was not for the Iraq War most people would not care. Of course this is the problem but you can not force anyone to learn something that is mostly useless to them.

Try telling a doctor to learn physics, what do you think he would respond? Probably, why bother. Or tell a Physicist to learn how to give a lobotomy...

How about this, tell me where Libera is, what about Suriname, or even Manitoba.
And don't literally list where they are, I was simply using an example of places the average person (that does not live there) won't care to know about.

Until things are put on every tv station, your average person has other things to think about. Like how are they going to pay their bill in a few days, has their child been well fed, how is their sickly grandma doing, what foolishness is George Bush up to now?, and then of course they need to tend to their entertainment needs.

Everyone's world does not revolve around the world as much as their own lives.


By geddarkstorm on 5/22/2008 1:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
So where did you lose your ability to realize an off hand joke when you hear one? Cripes. Obvious he does know the difference quite well, or he wouldn't have realized his mistake. I doubt you know anything about the cultural/law differences between US states like Missouri verses Vermont.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By mindless1 on 5/22/2008 10:01:49 PM , Rating: 3
The idiotic part is you fail to understand why. Like any other people, americans spend time learning what they perceive to benefit them most. If an american has no desire to travel via navigation (vs getting on an airplane and being delivered), why would they need to know where some far off place was? It would be a foolish trivial pursuit like memorizing the street number on some building you pass on the way to work - yet never plan to visit for any reason.

Randomly memorizing things is the folly of those who aren't productive, to think they are smart instead of accepting intelligence comes from applying what one knows instead of how much they know.

Basic geographic skills are about as important as me knowing where the cereal isle is in a supermarket 1000 miles away, and yet I do (did at that age) know where those locations are on a map - I just recognize that knowing it has had no useful purpose.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By jabber on 5/23/2008 6:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
Ignorance is bliss. Is that it?

The world is very very small these days.


By mindless1 on 5/24/2008 1:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
Which means nothing. If you were in the US, would you be walking to the other side of the world? Would you be navigating in any way, shape or form by using a globe?

I doubt it. I'm not saying we should reject learning such things, rather that pretending this is somehow important relative to other things is a mistaken notion. American kids are lacking in so many areas of education that it's nearly the last thing they need, to know where someplace is on a map.

Ultimately the question is not "be ignorant" or don't, it's "don't pretend trivial things are as important as useful things". Spend the time encouraging the kids to learn what they need to know instead of things they don't, tackle the more important deficits in their education first and only then should more attention be paid to geographic locations on the other side of the world.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By P4blo on 5/22/2008 7:19:33 AM , Rating: 5
Are you serious? You confuse a small, mountainous tax haven in central Europe (surely famous in every history lesson for stashing Hitler's loot) for a large, north European Scandinavian country with a world famous reputation for fit blonde chicks?

They dont even sound the same, congratulations, you are a brain donor.


By PlasmaBomb on 5/22/2008 7:52:33 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
You are a brain donor


Do not want... RMA


By larson0699 on 5/22/2008 12:17:46 PM , Rating: 3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

People, learn to use other means to make your points! (...EVERY time!!)


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By niaaa on 5/22/2008 6:16:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They certainly could have used more when the Germans came, so they called us!


You're an history expert ain't you ? Nice Fox NEWS history analysis.

quote:
veryday citizens walking around the streets with automatics strapped to their backs


Did you ever go to switzerland ? Do you think they actually walk in the streets with their automatic rifles in their back ?


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2008 10:35:44 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you've been but last time I checked the history books, talked to war veterans and looked at old film footage... Europe definitely was in shambles and they sure as heck called on us to save their behinds.

To deny that is to be living under a rock. Tout Faux News all you want (yes, we all know that certain people love to point the finger and pull the Faux card), but to deny reality of past history is amazing.

Perhaps I ought to introduce you to Ahmadinejad - he thinks that the Holocaust was made up!


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By LyCannon on 5/22/2008 12:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
But how does our gun laws and rights make us 'the' country to call on for aid?

They call on our military for aid, not for the red necks with riffles and handguns.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2008 12:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
Simple. The very fact that we, Americans, can bear arms is the very insurance that protects our lands from being invaded and overthrown.

It isn't our Army.

It isn't our government.

It isn't our Canadian or Mexican neighbors.

It isn't our allies abroad.

It certainly is not our local police department or militia.

No, it is US, the citizens of America, and our arms that we rightfully bear with our Constitutionally given right, that keeps our nation safe and free from foreign invasion. We are the sole deterrent for any country that wishes to take us over. No army of any size could easily invade a nation with 50+ million citizens that bear their own weapons and confidently know that they will succeed in their venture.

This is what makes us, or made us "the" country to call on for aid. The Japanese knew darned well they couldn't succeed in a full scale invasion and this alone kept our war factories running, our production lines churning our ammunition and our farms growing food to allow us to be the great war machine we were that would go on to save the rest of the world.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By DASQ on 5/22/2008 3:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
Just a question of curiosity, do you salute an American flag every morning?


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2008 3:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
Quite honestly I am very proud of our nation and all the men and women that sacrificed their lives for my privilege to live on this soil.

Notice that I did not say right - as it is not a right. It was their right (the men and women) that they gave up for the rest of us to give us the opportunity to live our lives here in one of the greatest places in the world despite issues we might have in our government or other places.

If it weren't for all of them, and the sacrifice of other foreign nations that helped us earn our freedom, we would not be here today.

I stand by our Flag and respect what the Constitution has bestowed upon us. However, I do not and will not blindly listen to anything our Government, or commander-in-chief tells us to do. Question everything is my motto.

What is the harm in all of that?


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By jabber on 5/22/2008 3:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
Ok so say for instance your Govt decides to introduce the same measures as in the UK.

What are you going to do to stop it?

Storm your local Govt buildings Uzis ablaze? Or write to your congressman and let 'democracy' take its course? Or moan to your buddies about it over a beer?

You dont really have a lot of choices other than punching a hole in a piece of paper every few years and hope for the best. Guns are not going to help at all, they have bigger ones than you for a start.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By MrBlastman on 5/23/2008 9:55:26 AM , Rating: 2
Ya know, we do have a choice every four years to make which determines which dooflatch gets into office.

Unfortunately, as of late (last 16 years), we haven't had any good choices on the ballot to vote for from either party. It seems we get one load of crusty stuff after another to vote for.

We also have this little thing known as Federal and State governments, and the power of the individual states. Our nation was founded years ago to keep the Federal Government from having too much power. Unlike the UK, the Federal Government could try to do what the UK is doing but they would be limited in their ability to implement such measures. Likewise the same would apply with states. You could simply move to another state. This is the very reason many of us choose to never move to California despite it being a beautiful place to live.

Also, unlike the UK, any normal citizen can run for office. However, without significant campaign finance reform (aka severe limitiations on personal money being spent on a campaign), unless you have a great deal of money right now you don't have much of a chance. Perhaps some day we will see rules which will limit a candidates funding to perhaps only a Federally alloted escrowed pool, preventing any personal finances from being used.

As for your comment on - "they have bigger ones than you for a start," you underestimate the resolve of your average American. It is as if Napolean came back and through you, made that statement. Do not discredit gun-toting Americans fortitude and willingness to stand up and fight when their freedoms are threatened in their homeland.

You can have big guns, but when you're severely outnumbered by millions of smaller guns, it is like a swarm running you over.


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By jabber on 5/23/2008 1:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
"Also, unlike the UK, any normal citizen can run for office. However, without significant campaign finance reform (aka severe limitiations on personal money being spent on a campaign), unless you have a great deal of money right now you don't have much of a chance. Perhaps some day we will see rules which will limit a candidates funding to perhaps only a Federally alloted escrowed pool, preventing any personal finances from being used."

So in other words a 'normal' citizen cant become president. It is the preserve of a select few. So that arguement doesnt wash. I doubt the establishment/ruling corporations will want that to change anytime soon.

"As for your comment on - "they have bigger ones than you for a start," you underestimate the resolve of your average American. It is as if Napolean came back and through you, made that statement. Do not discredit gun-toting Americans fortitude and willingness to stand up and fight when their freedoms are threatened in their homeland."

You would have to get them off their couches first. I think you would find a very small group storming the barricades. Folks have changed a lot since the early 19th Century.

I think you live in a little bit of a bygone fantasy world but if thats your choice so be it.

I do however agree that the choices we get to vote for every few years are appalling. We deserve better but the forces that be wont allow that.


By kyleb2112 on 5/24/2008 7:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
They have bigger guns, but a government has to ultimately decide if it wants an armed conflict with it's own citizens and all the political fallout that will follow. Private gun ownership pushes the stakes way up; that's where the leverage is, not in the force itself. The alternative is government doing what it wants quietly without conflict, but also without the damaging headlines or public outrage of a bloodbath.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-Thomas Jefferson
(fellow "stupid" American).


RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By sporr on 5/22/08, Rating: 0
RE: Rediculous invasion of privacy
By Klober on 5/23/2008 10:24:24 AM , Rating: 2
QFMFT. Thank you MrBlastman.

What would scare you more while trying to take over a country - 50+ million citizens who may pull out a gun at any time and shoot you while patrolling the streets, or an army who you can see coming a mile away and know every one has a gun? Also, how did we win the Revolutionary War? That's right - guerilla warfare. What's more conducive to that type of warfare than citizens throughout the country owning their own guns? As long as American citizens can own firearms, and have the will to remain free, I'm not worried about the US being occupied. :)


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