Immediate [not an April fool]
The Sunday Times this morning confirmed  earlier reports  that the government plans to force internet service providers to keep records of all browsing, email, gaming and chat use, and to make those records available to the authorities. It is now revealed the plan is to go further and allow real time snooping by the intelligence services. It will take place without a warrant, as most official surveillance already does .
Campaign group NO2ID  has previously pointed out that this scheme is ‘leapfrogging China’ and will ensure Britain remains the most watched society on earth.
The coalition government appears to have reversed its position on privacy against the database state. This news follows a little-reported announcement by Francis Maude  that the coalition will ‘look again’ at broad data-sharing powers for government bodies abandoned by Jack Straw in 2009 . Those plans would have allowed ministers to set aside confidentiality whenever it was convenient to them to use any information held about members of the public for new purposes.
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim. Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.
Put aside privacy – and the government has – the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?
Notes for editors:
1) ‘Government to Snoop on all emails’ – David Leppard, Sunday Times 1 April 2012
… internet companies will be told to install thousands of pieces of hardware to allow GCHQ… to scrutinise ‘on demand’ every phone call made, text message and email sent and website accessed in real time.
2) Eg. ‘Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan’ – Sunday Telegraph 19 Feb 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/9090617/Phone-and-email-records-to-be-stored-in-new-spy-plan.html
3) The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allows hundreds of official bodies to authorise themselves to use surveillance – powers used more than half a million times a year already
4) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people. See www.no2id.net
5) ‘Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan’ – NO2ID 19 Feb 2012
That release contains much more background information.
6) Keynote speech to the Information Commissioner’s Conference, 6 MAR 2012
In May we will publish proposals that will make data sharing easier – and, in particular, we will revisit the recommendations of the Walport-Thomas Review that would make it easier for legitimate requests for data sharing to be agreed with a view to considering their implementation.
For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:
Guy Herbert (General Secretary, email@example.com) on 07956 544 308
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org) on 07817605 162