UK Government Has Secretly Created A Huge Database Storing Details About Its Citizens' Private Lives -- Since 2000

from the database?-what-database? dept

Long before the vast planetary surveillance programs being carried out by the Five Eyes team were revealed by Edward Snowden, there was Echelon, a similarly globe-spanning system for slurping up communications. The person who did more than anyone to expose this top-secret collaboration was the UK journalist Duncan Campbell:

In 1988, he revealed the existence of the ECHELON project, which has since 1997 become controversial throughout the world. In 1998, he was asked by the European Parliament to report on the development of surveillance technology and the risk of abuse of economic information, especially in relation to the ECHELON system. His report, “Interception Capabilities 2000” was approved by the European Parliament in April 1999, and presented to the parliament in Brussels in February 2000. In July 2000, the European Parliament appointed a committee of 36 MEPs to further investigate the ECHELON system.
The MEPs wrote another report, "on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)", which was presented in July 2001. It would doubtless have created some pretty big waves in the EU had not the attack on the Twin Towers a few months later meant that nobody wanted to be seen weakening the intelligence services. The report was filed and Echelon was forgotten -- and carried on as before. A new article by Campbell published in The Register shows that around the same time that most politicians lost interest in exposing mass surveillance, the UK government was busily building another, highly-intrusive monitoring system that was only acknowledged very recently:
Finally, on November 4th [2015], the Home Office took the lid off what had been going on secretly since 2000. Asking Parliament to allow mass surveillance of telephone records to continue, Home Secretary Theresa May admitted that "under Section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 ... successive governments have approved the security and intelligence agencies' access" to [bulk] communications data from communication service providers", claiming that it helped MI5 "thwart a number of attacks here in the UK".
According to Campbell, that "bulk communications data" includes detailed records of telephone calls, health records, personal credit card and banking transactions, flight bookings and internet records. As he points out, the fact that all this data was being gathered secretly meant that repeated -- and heated -- Parliamentary debates about whether it should be collected, conducted in the belief that currently it was not, were a complete sham:
MPs and peers spent months arguing about a pretence, and in ignorance of the cost and human rights implications of what successive governments were doing in secret.
As well as duplicity, that bespeaks a stunning contempt on the part of the UK government for both Parliament and the public. That indifference to people's concerns is also manifest in the latest attempt to bring in a Snooper's Charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Bill. Campbell points out that the only response from the UK authorities to widespread fears about the creation of a huge, intrusive database recording key aspects of UK citizens' lives is to pretend it doesn't exist:
Vigilance on behalf of liberty has had little discernible impact, except in the field of semantics. Across 299 pages in the new Investigatory Powers Bill, the word "database" does not appear once.

Billions of call and internet records, stolen financial data, intercepted travel records, a heap of bulk personal datasets on matters including religion, racial or ethnic origin, political views, medical condition, sexual orientation, or legally privileged, journalistic or otherwise confidential information, all joined up together and archived in secret do not constitute a "database", whatever techie readers may think. And that's official.
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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 22 Dec 2015 @ 3:10am

    "We, the governments of the free world, hate terrorism, but realize the only way to stop terrorism is to become a terrorist ourselves. Thus, we have initiated all manners to destroy the very freedoms we hold dear for the sake of a few who don't believe in our ways of freedom." - damn near every politician.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 4:16am

      Re:

      amazing how creating terrorists and false flag events will allow for a tyranny, as long as you proclaim your against terrorism and persecuting/assasinating anyone that exposes you as the one that created the very same terrorists your railing against.

      Hate to godwyn but it worked very well for Hitler leading up to his total takeover of Germany

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      If the only way for governments to stop terrorism is to become terrorists themselves, does that mean that eventually they will have to stop themselves as well? There is a certain circuitousness about that thought that just doesn't jive.

      I have a hard time seeing venal, power hungry, sadists becoming masochistic self destructors consuming their own and themselves. They will always want more, not less, so if the populace tells the government that they are no longer afraid of terrorists, except those in the government, then the government will just become more sadistic. That circle makes sense, it's not good, but it makes sense.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2015 @ 1:31am

      Re:

      "The only way we will be able to defeat the next Evil Empire, is to become the next Evil Empire."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 3:46am

    "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 3:58am

    How long before this data is used against political opponents?

    Eventually, if it is not already happening, this data will be used against political opponents. It will result in 1 party rule eventually which will lead to tyranny. This is why everyone should be against this kind of surveillance. But once a surveillance state is built, it will be hard to stop as it probably already has enough dirt on its opponents to silence them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 4:09am

      Re: How long before this data is used against political opponents?

      I know the temptation when commenting about these things is to include the qualifiers 'eventually'...'if'...'maybe' when speaking of their potential for abuse by 'the authorities' (and all of their hired/appointed apparatchiks who have access)

      But we really need to not be delicate: "If it exists, there is porn of it"

      By the same token, if there is a trove of data useful for spying on ones unrequited loves, or ones competitors, or ones business or political enemies, AND IT EXISTS NOW then one can (with close to 100% accuracy) be comfortable stating that IT HAS BEEN ALREADY USED IN THAT WAY.

      Many times.

      And will be used in that way constantly, for as long as it exists.

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

    • icon
      MadAsASnake (profile), 22 Dec 2015 @ 4:50am

      Re: How long before this data is used against political opponents?

      We already saw this happen with Hoover. Today, it's been globalised and industrialised.

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

  • identicon
    AJ, 22 Dec 2015 @ 4:16am

    It will get hacked eventually, then you will have the mother of all extortion rackets unleashed. I hope the extortionists start with the politicians.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Noel Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 5:18am

    DPR... UK

    We are a surveillance state perhaps second only to North Korea. Another one of Warmonger Blair's legacies.

    Not that subsequent governments can claim any sort of moral high ground, of course.

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

  • identicon
    Aus, 22 Dec 2015 @ 5:47am

    UK Government is NOT a Government but

    a COMPANY!!
    http://aus911truth.blogspot.com/2014/05/govisco-governments-are-companies.html
    along with so many other countries' Governments.
    Their task is to MAKE PROFIT by ripping us off and poison us so that their mates in fraudulent pharma and medical industries will make profit too.

    Citizens of the world have gotta wake up to this bottom deceit and fight back NOW.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 6:50am

    ... claiming that it helped MI5 "thwart a number of attacks here in the UK".

    We'll be receiving details about these numerous thwarted attacks shortly, I'm sure? Just like in the US, when it was first claimed that 50+ terrorist attacks had been stopped... which then became 12 terrorist attacks... which then became 2... which then became a cabbie sending $8,500 to Somalia.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2015 @ 3:23pm

      Re:

      you forgot about the FBI created fake terrorism plots. I think the number of those are in the 20-40 range by now.

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

  • identicon
    Debra, 22 Dec 2015 @ 7:01am

    dirt on citizens

    That 'very special' relationship with the USA is bearing fruit!

    In the USA, there used to be a show called "Laugh In" and Lily Tomlin played a character who routinely took the mickey out of Edgar Hoover (former head of the FBI) who was known for blackmailing citizens to gain his political will. Her tag line was "There is nothing like a Hoover when you are dealing with dirty."

    Nothing like dirt, I guess, no matter which side of the pond you are manipulating.

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

  • identicon
    Debra, 22 Dec 2015 @ 7:01am

    dirt on citizens

    That 'very special' relationship with the USA is bearing fruit!

    In the USA, there used to be a show called "Laugh In" and Lily Tomlin played a character who routinely took the mickey out of Edgar Hoover (former head of the FBI) who was known for blackmailing citizens to gain his political will. Her tag line was "There is nothing like a Hoover when you are dealing with dirty."

    Nothing like dirt, I guess, no matter which side of the pond you are manipulating.

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

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 22 Dec 2015 @ 7:52am

    Well

    The good news is that Brits have nothing left to hide!

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

  • identicon
    Josh, 22 Dec 2015 @ 1:46pm

    Hi, from reading the puzzle palace and body of lies by Bamford I noted that echelon program had the US spy on UK citizens and UK spy on US citizens so they can circumvent their respective laws.

    Have a wonderfull surveillanced day!

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 22 Dec 2015 @ 9:50pm

    This and

    This and the EU right to be forgotten??
    Makes the world a very stupid place..
    Anyone with a number to the Alien world, please post it..
    Rather live in a Zoo, then deal with the idiots here..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2015 @ 8:41am

    1984 ... 2000.... Whatever!

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


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