Is The UK Really Looking To Spy On All Browsing Habits, Emails And Phone Calls?

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

There's not much in the way of detail, and our UK readers have pointed out in the past that The Times Online is hardly the most reputable of newspapers in the UK, but it's reporting that the UK government is considering spending £12 billion on a system to spy on the internet browsing histories, emails and phone calls of everyone in the UK. That seems almost too ridiculous to be true, so consider us to be skeptical that this is actually what's happening -- but we'll mention it here with the link back to the source to see if some of our readers can fill us in on the details (or lack of details, as the case may be).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    shanoboy (profile), Oct 6th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    patriot act

    Don't we already do this in the US?

    I'm kidding! Only for the terrorists!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    The surveillance marketplace

    The NSA spies on Europeans via Echelon, and the data is sold to European intelligence agencies who are forbidden to spy on their own citizens. In exchange, European intelligence agencies spy on Americans, and their information is sold to us.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 6:58am

    Don't we already do this in the US?

    I'm kidding! Only for the terrorists!


    Google something call 'Main Core'.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Re:

    No.

     

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  5.  
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    Skippy T. Mut, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    I'm so desensitized...

    If you haven't seen V for Vendetta you should. Its a pretty accurate portrayal of exactly where we're headed with this crap.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 7:35am

    Re: I'm so desensitized...

    And you should totally watch Braveheart, too! It's a pretty accurate portrayal of William Wallace's life.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Francis Burdett, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 7:40am

    "The Times Online is hardly the most reputable of newspapers in the UK"

    So you are calling out The Times for not being "reputable"?

    One can assuredly have issues with its editorial decisions (and since this is a British paper those decisions openly extend into reportage ) but I cannot imagine that anyone would call The Times a "disreputable" paper.

    (as one _might_ in discussion of the Sun, Mirror, or Daily Mail)

    I would guess then that only the Guardian, the Independent or the BBC hold standards high enough for Techdirt.

     

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  8.  
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    Shohat, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    Somewhat strange and backward

    The only explanation for this is that they are for some reason planning on loosing this ability, which they already have.
    My guess : they are preparing for a change in US legislation, which might hurt current international agreements between Agencies.

    My 2c.

     

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  9.  
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    Sean, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 8:33am

    £12b - like, half the defence budget!

    According to the Ministry of Defence, the budget for 2007/2008 is £32b, going up to £36b for 2010/2011.

    According to FAS, the GCHQ annual budget is estimated to be about £400m.

    And GCHQ is looking for £12b? From where? Are they gonna sell the Queen to raise the money?

    And as for what GCHQ might do with that info - they've already proven incapable of actioning live intercepts from known terrorists who were in the act of placing the car bomb that killed so many people in Omagh (look up BBC for GCHQ & Omagh).

    Funny? I nearly cried.

     

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  10.  
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    Jake, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    And what part of their tendency towards playing fast and loose with their fact-checking, which is admittedly now well and truly endemic and far from limited to the redtops and anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, could be considered 'reputable'?

     

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  11.  
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    TD Reader, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Look up PROMIS software on google or read about it at fromthewilderness.com. This UK thing is small potatoes next to what programs based on PROMIS are capable of.

     

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  12.  
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    mike allen, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    mmm

    DONT JUST MOAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
    Of course you could visit some strange websites or send fake emails or mess up the system or put a signature on all your Emails derogatory to the control freak of Downing street just for starters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 6th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    So you are calling out The Times for not being "reputable"?

    No, I am not. I have merely pointed out that when we used them as a source in the past, UK readers claimed it was not reputable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Socrates, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    England; land of bad ideas

    This is the country that gave us Iran and Iraq, Pakistan and India, isreal and jordan . . . on and on

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Joseph Young, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Yes!

    The basis of the story is certainly correct. If you want more details and links to other publications that might meet with more approval from the Techdirt readers, you can look at the Intercept Modernisation page on The Open Rights Group’s wiki.

    The Times’ article is new in giving a much higher total financial cost and the names of two network providers. The figure of £12 billion may not be correct and is an order of magnitude higher than previous figures I’ve seen. However, given the spiralling costs of the National ID Card and Database, it may not be as far out as it currently appears. Also, it’s not clear how many years of costs this represents.

    If you were to just guess at one fixed-line and one network provider, you’d go with BT and Vodafone. It would be logical to start with the largest providers that are not owned by foreign companies.

    Picking up on Mike Allen’s comment about email signatures, it should be remembered that it’s not the content that is to be stored. It will be one complete, centralised database of web hosts accessed, who has emailed whom, who has telephoned whom, over the past two years. So, slightly different to the TOM-Skype database. That also records content, but doesn’t include every communication.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Oct 6th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: I'm so desensitized...

    Lulz for your joke, I almost squirted Mountain Dew across the room.

    V for Vendetta has to do with government control via bioweapons. There are much better movies you can cite like, oh, I dunno, 1984 which the author of the graphic novel drew inspiration from.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    HowToUK, Nov 9th, 2011 @ 4:35am

    What a joke

    That is ridiculous! Surely they have better things to be spending their money on than to be looking into the surfing habits of people in the UK! Grrr!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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