British Goverment Wants To Know Who Your Facebook Friends Are

from the big-brother-would-like-to-add-you dept

Law enforcement and security bodies around the world are on a massive push to expand data-retention laws, trying to force ISPs and lots of other companies to track and store data on their customers' behavior in the name of public safety, crime prevention and investigation. While in some places, like Germany, there's been some pushback, other places, like the UK are moving full speed ahead. Earlier this year, rules went into place forcing ISPs to keep records on all their users' email, and now, the government wants to maintain a database of social networking site users' contacts. As if that's not bad enough, the BBC says it's part of a plan to keep a central database of "of all phone calls, e-mails and websites visited." As a spokesperson for a privacy group notes, it's fine for law enforcement to monitor the online activity of criminal suspects, but keeping tabs on an entire country's communications in a government database would, in effect, consider the entire British population suspects, and undermine some fairly fundamental freedoms of its society -- and not to mention it's probably illegal, like an estimated 25 percent of all British government databases. What's particularly galling about these sorts of plans isn't just that they're anathema to the idea of freedom, but that if they're put into place, they really won't do any good. Law-enforcement types act as if having this data will be a magic bullet, but simply increasing the volume of retained data -- then having to mine through it -- will only make their jobs more difficult.


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    yogi, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 1:43am

    1984

    It seems like the brits are determined to make Orwell's vision come true.

    How the mighty have fallen!

     

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      ED, Sep 23rd, 2009 @ 11:14pm

      Re: 1984

      The UK isn't heading towards a becoming police state - it already is one.

      Top 10 list of police state measures in the United Kingdom:

      10: RFID TAGS IN RUBBISH BINS
      Local councils in the UK now put RFID tags in rubbish bins to monitor the amount of waste created by each household with a view to enforcing a "recycling tax."

      9: RFID'S IN PASSPORTS AND OYSTER CARDS
      The UK government has now put a RFID chip into passports and the Oyster card records details on every journey made.

      8: PAY PER MILE
      Drivers will have an RFID chip installed in their car and be forced to pay for every mile they drive.

      7: HAVE TO APPLY TO PROTEST
      Do you want to make your voice heard? Well, if you want to protest in the centre of London you now have to apply for permission from the police.

      6: X-RAY CAMERAS ON STREET
      The government now plans to install X-Ray cameras in a bid to combat "terrorism".

      5: CHILDREN FINGERPRINTED IN SCHOOL
      Children can now have their biometric data taken from them at school without their parents consent.

      4: SHOUTING CAMERAS
      There are now cameras that shout orders at people who "misbehave" in the street.

      3: CCTV CAMERAS IN SCHOOL TOILETS
      Schools justify the complete loss of privacy for children by saying it cuts down on vandalism and bullying.

      2: NATIONAL DNA DATABASE
      Police now want powers to take DNA samples from people on the street for petty offences such as speeding or dropping litter.

      1: TERRORISM ACT
      Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act police officers can search you without the need to show that an offence is being committed. Not only that, but even if you are innocent you can be held for 28 days without charge.

       

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    Claes, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 1:47am

    "What's particularly galling about these sorts of plans isn't just that they're anathema to the idea of freedom, but that if they're put into place, they really won't do any good."

    I don't think that's entirely true. Especially being able to go back into phone records and get the location of mobile phones at the time of calls can probably be a quite useful tool in criminal investigations. One doesn't need data-mining in order to do that - just simple searches. Regarding using the data in order to find previously unknown crimes or terrorists probably won't very well - you are right about that.

    It is very serious that a whole population is being treated as suspects. Massive data retention is certainly violating human rights.

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:09am

    You missed a bit

    Hi Carlo

    First off your analysis is spot as far as it goes - this sort of thing is appalling and I find it hard to think of a better indicator of the direction the Bush/Blair years have pushed us all in

    I don't seriously expect this database to go ahead as other parties have stated they would scrap it and I don't expect the current government to survive the next elections. If they do somehow manage it, it is hard to see them doing so with anything above a tiny majority

    'Course stranger things have happened....

    To me, the real underlying dangers of this and other databases are
    1) The sheer amount of data they store, available for abuse by corrupt civil servants, police and hackers.
    2) The ability to lose this data (trains seem popular places for civil servants to leave data lying around)
    3) The collected data will not die - imagine a time in the not too distant future where we elect yet another sociopath to government. Now imagine that he (or she) doesn't even need to be sneaky or pass laws to get political data on their population since they *already have it*

    What would Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot have done if they had this amount of data when they *started out*?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:15am

    i guess that's what happens when you watch too much CSI, ppl start thinking that you can have all the info of the world under the tip of your finger.

     

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    ulle, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:24am

    I know this article is about Britian but I would be flabbergasted to learn that American agencys like Homeland Security and the NSA arent doing the same thing already.
    What bothers me the most about stuff like this is the fact that the majority of the people do not seem to care what the governments are doing anymore. We (we being the general population of earth) are blindly allowing our governments to do anything they wish just because they tell us it is for our safety or our protection. I am begining to wonder if there is really any difference between the British or American government and the Chinese government other then the US and Brits are better at hiding their true agendas. I realize I will probably draw a lot of angry responces for my views, but hey as an american I do the right of my opinion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:24am

    Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

    To get out of this depression, you need to

    CALL YOUR LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVES AND NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE RATHER THAN THE BANKS.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:25am

    Orwell Orwell Orwell Orwell

     

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    Felix Ple┼čoianu, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:56am

    Why is anyone acting surprised? Orwell has lived in Britain and was inspired by what he saw around him. Same goes for Pink Floyd - The Wall, anyone?

    People have seen this coming a long time ago. Too bad nobody listened. Now all we can hope is that processing power will NOT expand to match storage capacity. Then at least the gathered data will not be usable to oppress people en masse.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 3:00am

    rememberr remember the fifth of november for the gunpowder reason and plot, I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be frgot

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 4:10am

    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
    NATIONALIZE THE FEDERAL RESERVE

     

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    Sally, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 4:18am

    wow

    that is really bad stuff. Just another reason why I should leave this country and go and start my own...

     

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    Philip Storry, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Fat lot of good that'll do...

    Have you seen how many "friends" most people have?

    Facebook has a long since hit the critical problem that its predecessor - myspace - hit.

    People are now "friends" with all kinds of folks, many of whom they met once and haven't seen since.

    Now, it's possible to become firm friends with people online, without ever meeting them. But it's not all that common.

    A list of friends is useless, because people are often TOO POLITE to not enter into a status of mutual friendship, even though they one party may not want to.

    What you really need is traffic analysis. Who sent what to whom?

    And yet that's flawed too. Just because someone sends me something on Facebook, doesn't mean I was interested in it. People are often advertising their causes, usually by invites to events/apps/whatever.

    This is, sadly, as likely to cause a grave miscarriage of justice as it is to catch terrorists... :-(

     

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    Rob, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 6:08am

    "You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist"*

    This statistic is for the US, but the UK is becoming way more paranoid/controlling then any other country in the world.


    *data from 2004 National Safety Council Estimates,
    http://prorev.com/2009/02/cop-is-more-likely-to-kill-you-than.html

     

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    Richard Smith, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 6:43am

    These laws trying to abuse our right to privacy are being proposed by the very same people who just last year voted against disclosing their expenses to the public.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7972596.stm

    Do us all a favour, Jacqui, quit already.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 7:11am

    I think having a giant database would only make their job more difficult if they actually cared about who they were arresting. I think that's the road Britain is heading down. Remember, "safety" first.

     

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    Skippy T. Mut, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 7:17am

    V

    Perhaps they should have watched V for Vendetta all the way through...They obviously didn't see the part where V blew up parliament and the people revolted...What the F&^K is wrong with british people?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 8:34am

    Curious about the last sentence of the article

    You say "make their[the snooping bastards] jobs more difficult" as if that were a bad thing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Idiots!

     

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    Aidantheawesome, Apr 1st, 2009 @ 3:50pm

    Data Retention Flakes

    Silly Government, data retention is for terrorists!

     

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