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).

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

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17 Comments
Francis Burdett says:

“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.

Joseph Young says:

Re: Re: 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.

Sean (user link) says:

£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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