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Old 04-04-12, 22:57   #1
 
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Default Euro Court May Stop UK `Spying` On Web & Phones

UK’s ‘Patriot Act’ Web monitoring law could face European veto

By Zack Whittaker zdnet, April 4, 2012, 5:30am PDT

Summary: New plans by the UK government to monitor all Web and phone traffic, set to be announced at the weekend, could be shot down by the European Commission.

Controversial new British legislation could allow the UK’s electronics intelligence agency GCHQ access in real-time data of phone calls, emails, social networks, and Web traffic by all UK residents.

The UK is already the most surveilled country in the world, with number plate recognition systems, ISP deep-packet inspection, and a surveillance camera seemingly on every corner. These proposals would propel the UK into the lacking privacy realms of China, Burma, and Russia.
But it already faces the possibility of stiff opposition at a European level unless safeguards are put into place that limits the scope of that monitoring.





Though yet to be announced in the Queen’s speech, set for around May, which dictates the UK government’s legislative agenda for the year, it would allow the widespread monitoring of citizens’ activity — despite current UK laws making such actions only available by court-ordered search warrants.

Likened to the U.S.’ Patriot Act, it would grant the UK government access to personal data of ordinary citizens, despite the government’s defence that only certain people will be actively investigated.

Data collected would include the time a call, email, or website was visited, the duration of which, and which websites or phone numbers were called. Details of the sender and recipient of emails, such as IP addresses, would also be collected. Everything scrap of data will be stored by ISPs, but not all of this data will be made available to GCHQ without a court order or Home Secretary-sanctioned authority.

But the European Commission could block or significantly water down plans to push forward with the new law, citing reasons that new European data protection and privacy laws could conflict with the UK’s privacy-invading plans.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May said “ordinary people” had nothing to fear from the proposed laws, while claiming that similar data helped convict Ian Huntley, one of the UK’s most wanted child killers, and helped smash a child abuse ring in Lincolnshire, east England.

“Such data has been used in every security service terrorism investigation and 95 per cent of serious organised crime investigations over the last ten years,” she said. ”Only suspected terrorists, paedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated.”

But critics note that ultimately, anyone can be a suspected ‘anything’. Even Conservative government backbenchers are heavily criticising the move by their own political party, which when in opposition three years ago, were highly critical of similar plans brought out by the Labour government.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg backtracked on plans to rush the laws unlike previous statements from May. “We aren’t simply going to ram some legislation through Parliament.” He said the proposals would be published in draft form first, before heading to Parliament, to enable as many people as possible to review the proposed law.

A senior Home Office source speaking to the BBC said the proposed laws “absolutely will not be dropped or even delayed”, but how it reaches Parliament is still under discussion.

Speaking to Out-Law, data protection law specialist Kathryn Wynn said that the plans would strengthen existing laws, but would make access to data easier and faster.

Under current UK law, there needs to be “reasonable grounds” to intercept communications data without a warrant. The new Web snooping laws would effectively negate this safeguarding process. Historical communications data is available to law enforcement as it is held for six months to two years under Europe’s Data Retention Directive by mobile networks, and phone and broadband companies.

“However, the UK Government will need to take account of privacy when drafting any new law. It has already had to change UK laws on the interception of communications after the Commission challenged its compatibility with EU privacy laws,” Wynn said.

Last year, the Commission raised a case to the highest court in Europe, the European Court of Justice, saying that the UK does not have adequate data protection and privacy laws to protect Internet users.

A European Commission spokesperson said that the UK government’s plan “would potentially be incompatible”, adding that the draft Web monitoring law could leave the plans in danger of being in conflict with existing and upcoming European law.
Quote:
“The Commission’s own research last year into information privacy concluded that there was a lack of proper regulatory oversight and too much conflicting legislation, all of which fails to provide adequate protection for citizens and their private information.
We found that the way the government and its agencies collect, use and store personal data is not respecting people’s right to privacy. However, because of the complexity of the current laws, obligations are unclear and authorities may be unaware they are breaking the law.”
Europe is already on the way in collecting feedback on the upcoming Data Protection Regulation, which seeks to update and modernise the data protection and privacy laws across the 27 member states of the European Union, whilst protecting to some extent from third-country law.

From a logistical point of view, for GCHQ to actively monitor every call log, text message, email and every shred of Web traffic data could force the intelligence agency into “information overload”. That said, if the U.S.’ National Security Agency can do it, surely the Brits can too.

Image credit: CNET
END

Oops, that GCHQ is about 5 minutes drive away from my UK home,,,,,,,,I better move!
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Old 04-04-12, 23:11   #2
 
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Default Re: Euro Court May Stop UK `Spying` On Web & Phones

Related:

UK ‘to announce’ real-time phone, email, Web traffic monitoring

By Zack Whittaker Znet, April 1, 2012, 3:35am PDT


Summary: UK government plans to allow the intelligence services analyse call, email and Web traffic in “real-time” could be announced by the Queen as early as May.

Editors note: Despite this being April 1, or ‘April Fools Day’, this story is not a fabrication nor a joke. For background to this story, head this way.

Under new UK legislation, Internet service and broadband providers will be obligated to pass personal browsing, email and call data to the intelligence services for real-time processing.

“Internet firms” could also include social networks and search engines, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google — all of which have a presence in the UK — along with broadband providers. Access to ISP logs will be opened up to the government on-demand.





The ‘third’ UK intelligence service, GCHQ, the signals and electronics eavesdropping station based in Cheltenham, currently process call, web, and email data, such as when communications were made, but not the contents of such data.

ISPs, however, do process this data at their facilities and datacenters. These new plans would force ISPs to ‘mirror’ all traffic through GCHQ allowing for more detailed inspection on a law enforcement level to quickly process information as it happens.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed the upcoming legislation could be implemented as “soon as parliamentary time allows”.

“It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.”

Currently under UK law, GCHQ along with police and other law enforcement agencies, would have to present a Home Secretary-issued or court-ordered search warrant to ISPs to force to hand over the data for inspection.

The new legislation would still require a search warrant to access the specific details of calls, emails and Web activity. Such personal content can still be requested under a search warrant presented to the ISP, though GCHQ will not process this data automatically.

But it will allow the intelligence services to trace people’s communications with others, who they are contacting, and how often for.

The “contact not content” rule applies in that police, law enforcement and intelligence services are interested in who people communicate with, rather than the contents of the communication itself.

But the new measures would force ISPs to install routing hardware in their facilities to open up access to GCHQ as and when it is necessary.

The legislation is expected to be announced at the Queen’s Speech in May. The speech is the only communication the Queen gives that is not written by her. It is written by legislators, specifically at Downing Street, the home and office of the prime minister.

The previous Labour government pushed for similar legislation — a time post the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, and the July 7 London bombings. In hindsight, it seemed like a breach of civil liberties, in an age where subjective anti-social behaviour (ASBO) injunctions could prevent individuals from doing certain things along with when and in specific places, and control orders would impose ‘house arrest’ like sanctions on suspected terrorists.

The proposals were shot down by the then opposition Conservative government, but now in power seek to bring these plans into law by the end of the year.
Image credit: Carolina Alves/Flickr.
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