BPI Says That UK Spies Are Against Digital Economy Bill

from the strange-bedfellows dept

The debate over the Digital Economy Bill in the UK (the attempt to ratchet up copyright law to repay favors to an entertainment industry that is slow to adapt) has taken an odd twist. Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing has the details of a leaked memo from the BPI (pdf) to a bunch of recording industry execs and lobbyists, that details the state of the bill and the ongoing strategy for getting it approved. There are a few items worth noting:
  1. The BPI seems to think that the UK intelligence community is now the biggest threat to stopping the bill. Seriously. Apparently, UK spies are afraid that passing this bill will drive a very large number of people to switch to using encrypted internet tools, making it that much more difficult to spy on them. This may be an accurate concern, but it's surprising to hear that the intelligence community is now considered the biggest hurdle to getting the bill passed. Apparently, the BPI is fairly unconcerned with consumer rights groups. The BPI seems so paranoid about the intelligence community, that it actually suggests in the memo that the British spying agency MI5 may have paid for a recent survey released by the ISP Talk Talk, saying that 71% of those 18-34 years old would continue to file share, using "undetectable means."

    The memo also mocks the fact that this particular bill now has the Open Rights Group on the same side of an issue as MI5 -- when the two are normally somewhat diametrically opposed.

  2. While the BPI sounds fairly confident that the bill will get through, it recognizes that it could get stalled if enough Members of Parliament start asking questions about the speed with which the bill is being pushed through:
    As for the House of Commons -- which will be sent the Bill next week -- there is a strange sense of detachment. MPs with whom we spoke back in Autum are already resigned to the fact that they will have minimum input into the provisions from this point on, given the lack of time for detailed scrutiny. One leading backbencher has told us that there is "little point in meeting, since the Bill will be determined at wash-up". That said, John Whittingdale -- an inveterate "timing sceptic" (i.e. he's for the Bill but doesn't think it will get through in time) has said this week that he still thinks it could be lost if enough MPs protest at not having the opportunity to scrutinise it. Whilst true in constitutional theory terms, the hard politics of the situation makes it seem unlikely. And inveterate opponents like Derek Wyatt and Tom Watson continue to blog and tweet with critical comments, but there is not the sense of a groundswell of massive opposition to the Bill.
    In other words: if you live in the UK, now is the time to start speaking up and contacting your elected officials, as well as letting others know that a bill to greatly take away your rights is about to be pushed through the House of Commons, unless you speak up now.

  3. Finally, among the "upcoming" activities, the memo mentions that on Wednesday the 18th, there will be a release of a report from TERA on "The importance of saving jobs in the EU's Creative Industries." We see these types of reports all the time, and they're usually poorly thought out and poorly argued, assuming, incorrectly, that a loss of jobs in one part of an industry might not be made up elsewhere, and rarely (if ever) paying attention to the fact that artificially propping up one part of the industry has massive negative consequences for other areas in the economy. So let's see what this report says. But assuming you start seeing press reports about this later this week, make sure to read through them with a critical eye.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:14pm

    If true

    More telling is the UK's intelligence community belief that it will drive
    "a very large number of people to switch to using encrypted internet tools"
    As Mike and other have stated, drive file sharers underground.
    It is becoming evident that the Record/CD industry and the politicians who's palms have been generously greased.
    Are the only ones that believe that clamping down on file sharers will return their business to its former glory.

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

  2. icon
    bishboria (profile), 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Re: If true

    the intelligence community will be more worried about terrorists/etc possibly using encrypted methods. have to be a pretty dumb terrorist *not* to use encrypted techniques anyway, but who am I to judge? :)

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

  3. icon
    bishboria (profile), 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:33pm

    If the intelligence agency are seriously worried about this bill then I'm sure some back room deals, or what ever, will mean that this bill won't become law.

    Being spied on FTW!

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

  4. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:43pm


    back in 2000 on spetember 12th george bush called all hackers terrorists
    so as a hacker i went and took one of there informants to the taliban news website...OH MY what did he see....or more importantly DIDN'T see.

    anyhow next day ol georgy S-MART pants goes on tv saying and ill quote this.

    "ok hehe(usual goof laugh) hackers aren't terrorists but can ya leave that site alone we want to see what they do next"

    OMG i thought are they retarded in the usa
    was the 9/11 attacks on the taliban news website prior ?
    HAHA no this isn't about spies or terrorists, its about drugs,gangs , and any other morons that think they have any security on the net in communicating.

    ya think the spies know like i do id rather have these kids doing a lil p2p then joining up with a gang ?

    british intelligence isn't that intelligent is it.

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

  5. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:44pm

    correction sept 12th 2001


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

  6. icon
    Richard (profile), 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: If true

    have to be a pretty dumb terrorist *not* to use encrypted techniques anyway, but who am I to judge? :)

    No - the point is that currently ONLY the criminals and terrorists are using encryption - and so it is (relatively) easy to target them (You can learn a lot from the fact that an encrypted message has been sent at a particular time -even if you can't read it)

    - but if large numbers of ordinary people start doing it too then the targets will become much more difficult to find amongst the crowd.

    It's the same logic that drives the intelligence community themselves to fill up their own secure networks with trivial content all the time so that there is never any variation of traffic that could give a clue to the opposition.

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

  7. icon
    Ian (profile), 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:28pm

    You already see this with police investigations into things like child porn. It used to be that if an investigation found any attempt to hide files (which were usually clumsy and easily-breached), it meant there was serious malfeasance going on. Often they could get confessions even where they couldn't get access to the actual data, simply on the basis that it was suspicious that there was hidden data. Now, when programs like TrueCrypt are common and used for a variety of innocent uses, an encrypted drive could contain anything or nothing, and you can't really draw any inference of criminal behaviour from it.

    If they give large numbers of ordinary people reasons to hide that are relatively trivial or entirely innocent, you will get strong tools to do so with, and you won't be able to tell the terrorist from the child pornographer from the organized crime figure from the lawyer sending confidential data from the thirteen year old sharing mp3s from the college student... you get the idea.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:51pm

    "British spying agency MI5"

    MI5 = Counter Intellance = Spy Catchers
    MI6 = Intellance = Spies

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2010 @ 6:23am



    MI5= The Security Service, Domestic security including spying
    MI6= Secret Intelligence Service, External Security, spying outside GB

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

  10. identicon
    raccol, 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:37am

    The govt would be better to pay more attention to the growth in online gambling casino's and poker site that are an easy way for people to build up massive credit card debt and all of the misery that debt brings. I have a contact at one of the large poker sites operating out of ireland and there over is around £12 million a night!

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

  11. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:43am

    MI5 and MI6

    MI5 and MI6 complained about this months ago. The UK digital economy bill when passed is going to cause an evolution in P2P software design and encryption making us all less safe from an intel perspective, but more secure privacy wise as what we do cant be monitored.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2010 @ 8:31am

    MI6 is a coloquial and does not actually exist, but anyway.

    It's quite odd that the BPI recognises that the securtiy services are worried about the digital economy bill encouraging more people to use encryption, but fail to see that will also undermine what they are trying to acheive in the digital economy bill.

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

  13. icon
    Idobek (profile), 16 Mar 2010 @ 9:47am

    Elected officials don't give a damn

    All government bills currently going through parliament will be rammed through by a Labour party clinging to the vestiges of power. The only of it not becoming law is it being held up in the Lords until the election.

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

  14. icon
    ScottDeagan (profile), 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:30am

    The future of cryptography for the masses

    @Richard: "No - the point is that currently ONLY the criminals and terrorists are using encryption". I strongly disagree with this absurd statement as it simply isn't true. On a daily basis I access my Linux servers at my home using SSH. Does this make me a criminal? Would it be preferable if I used telnet instead? The emails I send my business partners are digitally signed and encrypted. Does this indicate criminal/terrorist activity? Not to mention my online purchases and online banking - this is always conducted over (surprise, surprise) an encrypted connection! I predict that if this Bill passes (which it will) and there is an exodus from unencrypted P2P services to encrypted P2P services (which has already begun), then within a few years the use of cryptography by normal every day citizens will be outlawed. Governments will regulate the use of cryptography, and citizens will be required to apply for licenses and to register their private/public keys with the government (because we can trust them, right? They only want what's best for their constituents and they respect the freedoms of individuals, right?). Any of you whipper snappers old enough to remember the NSA's "Clipper" chip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipper_chip) and the concept behind "Key Escrow"? This Bill has wider reaching implications that no-one to date has brought to light. It's something we (law abiding citizens) should all be concerned about.

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

  15. identicon
    Dosh, 19 Apr 2010 @ 1:10am

    No Spies

    every country has their own privacy
    stainless steel rice cooker

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

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