back to article UK comms intercepts up by half - and it isn't the council

The latest reports from government surveillance watchdogs reveals that interception of communications by UK officials surged by almost 50 per cent in 2007. British public bodies including police and intelligence agencies made 519,260 requests for information to telcos and ISPs during the year. However, just 1,707 of these were …

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Boffin

Put up or shut up!

"These powers can make a real difference ... enabling us to gain that vital intelligence that will prevent a terrorist attack, working to tackle antisocial behaviour or ensuring that rogue traders do not defraud the public."

OK. Put up or shut up. How about publishing details of all the successful prosecutions that have depended on these intercepts? There shouldn't be any problem with this, the courts are public forums and the interception isn't a secret.

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Coat

Finally I can sleep soundly in my bed

knowing that the terrorists in my neighbourhood aren't able to dodge paying their council tax and that their children won't be able outside after the curfew.

Seriously this 'gathering of intelligence' is absurd.

I can't help feeling how Orwellian it felt to see Joe Strummer smash a camera once a glastonbury festival, only to apologise for it later.

"Its touching to see how they love big brother"

Personally I'm beginning to feel more and more inclined to think up inventive ways of knobbling these prying methods, for the sport rather than any thing to hide.

*mines the one with the IR-LED collars :D

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"These powers can make a real difference ...

enabling us to gain that vital intelligence that will prevent a terrorist attack, working to tackle antisocial behaviour or ensuring that rogue traders do not defraud the public."

And of course, providing invaluable targeted advertising to the on-line community.

So, there were 519,260 "requests for information", or "look how much we're looking after your National Security"

No mention of how many 'unauthorised interceptions' took place then.

Or don't they think that the public would be interested in the "but look how badly we're doing" side. Could it be because they're doing feck-all about what has to be the largest one?

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Happy

we are all criminals now...

>parents trying to fraudulently gain places

>at popular schools and other criminals

Brilliantly worded! The way the net is widening and tightening at the same time is, frankly, alarming.

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Stop

Fly Tippers

How would phone records help catch fly tippers? Do they call up the "Fly Tipping Hotline" to chat with other like-minded litterbugs about this sofa you just chucked over a fence?! Or maybe log onto www.FlyTipPron.com to share pics of "hot chicks who tip"?

Wait, internet usage records? What internet usage records?

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Pirate

it's a travesty

and I'll bet not ONE terrorist was caught using this.

Or rogue trader.

Very worrying that this is allowed and Local Councils of all things even have access to do this sort of thing (even if it is limited).

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Anonymous Coward

How many of those 500,000 people were informed?

Of the 500,000 people.

1. How many were charged with a crime as a result.

2. How many of the people *not* charged with a crime were later informed they'd been spied upon?

If they have nothing to hide by these invasions of privacy then there is nothing to fear by telling the people they have been spied up. By definition they are innocent people because you did not even charge them, so why can they not be informed about the removal of their privacy right?

And why are there no arrests for abuse of this power? When clearly 500k invasions does not correlate with 500k more arrests.

The requests have double, the arrest rate not. By definition there must be more surveillance of innocent people, which given the fundamental right to privacy means it is being abused.

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Unhappy

Proportionality

I just love the commissioners and the like talking about councils and proportionality. They don't know the meaning of the word!! Bin lid up a couple of inches, throw the book at the disgusting criminal lout. Wheels stop turning for a split second whilst near a double yellow line, slap a ticket on them. Lots of accidents at a particular spot on the road. Sort out the rubbish road layout etc? Nah. Put up a speed camera. Someone trying to get their child into a good school? Shall we improve the schools? Nah. Just trawl through the peoples records and show them for the criminal scum they are for trying to improve their childs education.

Yep. Councils really know what they are doing and ensure proportionate methods are used...........not.

Twenty years ago, the above would have made good content for a standup comic. Problem is, it's come true!!

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Flame

What We Really Need

What we really need is a secret police to coordinate this activity. Then you wouldn't need to worry about "proportionality". They could also have the power to arrest these "fly tippers" in the middle of night, quietly of course so as not to upset the neighbours. The next step would of course be to to encourage citizens to inform on any suspicious activity from the their neighbours/colleagues/family.

I forsee many a job for out of work stazi operatives training our new "Community Standards Enforcement Officers"

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Tongue, Cheek?

I think you need to add an irony warning to your joke alert, I didn't realise until I got to your list of criminals.

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Anonymous Coward

Related news

Here, an officer arrested the parents of a boy using the Anti Terrorism Act.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7520598.stm

The police have apologized and so on, but the key reason for the apology is not because they used the act, the officer made the mistake of saying WHY she was arresting them (she suspected the child wasn't theirs and arrested them on the off chance of child trafficking).

If the officer (as they are trained to do) didn't give a reason why she was arresting them under the Terrorism act, she would have gotten away with it.

By telling them why she was arresting them and using the terrorism act which doesn't allow for that arrest reason, she was confessing to the misuse.

The problem here as ever is that once you give someone uncontrolled unmoderated power, they will justify it to their hearts content because there's no consequence for their misuse. Sir *.* will say (based on what they've told him) that it was proportionate and necessary, but then he's not in a position to judge, he's just a sop to defeat the privacy law.

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Thank goodness!

With councils having these powers none of the local terrorists will be getting their kids into the good schools - hah, bet you didn't think of that Osama!

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Paris Hilton

Not a free society anymore is it. Anyone vote for that?

..I for one welcome our snouty nit picking brain dead bureaucratic overlords......

Paris - because if there's any one person I want to do a body search....

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Pirate

simple solution is a single ticket out

as each day passes the reality of UK becoming an EU prison is becoming more of a reality, I read somewhere a million people a year are getting put on DNA DB.

Before you know it all EU criminals will be exported to UK to join the rest of the criminal society that runs it.

If we all got up and left then they would have no one to operate their CCTV's and no one to provide phone records blah blah blah ...

You know it makes sense single ticket out of here please.

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Black Helicopters

Resource used or wasted

500,000 requests for information. Each one processed and answered. Each answer accepted and analysed.

That is an awful lot of people doing an awful lot of work. For what?

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How do?

How do phone billing records and internet use logs capture fly tippers, council tax evaders and people trying to get their kids into a decent school (what's wrong with that anyway?)?

It's depressing that idiots in "authority" might think or believe this, it's even more depressing that the public at large just accept it, and it's even more worrying that WE pay these idiots to think up this sort of crap.

The country is going mad - how about spending some of our money properly on worthy causes instead of wasting it?

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You are all fools...

If you think this is a fair and balanced statment.

"Such records can nonetheless be a powerful tool for local government officials acting against rogue traders, fly tippers, those seeking to avoid council tax, parents trying to fraudulently gain places at popular schools and other criminals"

Most of the applications are relating to benefit fraud. But of course El-Reg is no longer interested in good reporting...

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Happy

Translation.

"The commissioners' reports offer valuable oversight and provide reassurance that these powers are being used appropriately."

Translates as:

"The commisioners are paid by the government and have gold-plated pensions to look forward to. Their reports appear to contain exactly the approved amount of spin and whitewash and they're in line for a bonus."

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Stop

@How many of those 500,000 people were informed?

"By definition there must be more surveillance of innocent people, which given the fundamental right to privacy means it is being abused."

That's exactly the kind of woolly minded thinking our glorious leaders are trying to get rid of. There is no such thing as innocence, we're are all guilty. It's just that they haven't found crimes for us all yet.

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Alert

needless distress and alarm

"...if town halls wanted to have people watched or followed, they should spend money and hire properly trained operatives able to work covertly without causing needless distress and alarm."

Oh I love this - so it's ok to spy on people who have really done nothing wrong, just so long as they don't know that they have been spied on? Is it me or has he completely missed the point? Clearly these are the words of a man who presides over so much covert surveillance of innocent people that he has forgotten that the concept of privacy even exists.

Ricin, nuclear, Allah, Jihad, Infidel, Bush, Brown, hijack, peroxide, airport.

I feel an interception request is on it's way...

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Thumb Down

Another misleading Reg article

A request for Communications Data (i.e. either subscriber details, or call records) is NOTHING like an "intercept" so maybe it's time you stopped spinning it as such.

The only thing they have in common is that they are both enabled under RIPA, but are achieved by entirely different routes.

But that doesn't grab the headlines as well, does it? *sigh*

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Stop

Hold on!

"519,260 requests for information to telcos and ISPs during the year."

Does that mean they think roughly 10% of the population is commiting serious offences, or is it just random phishing, hoping to catch someone that dropped an apple core?

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Black Helicopters

Too late

GWB already has all your phone and internet records and the guv'ment has already handed over all the other records (CD in the mail, don'cha know)!

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Flame

Why Whacky Jacqui should get out more

"terrorist attack, working to tackle antisocial behaviour or ensuring that rogue traders do not defraud the public".

Demonstrating her mental ago of 8. Evidently she's never seen ot heard of white-collar criminals. The boardroom scammers and cartels, for whom these powers could almost be purpose-built.

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Re: Another misleading Reg article

What's the frigging difference? One of the major forces used in intelligence work in war is looking at who is talking to who. An area receiving/sending a lot of information is probably a headquaters. It's why the US want their radar interception bases near the russian border: so they can analyse traffic inside russia (and why the US wouldn't let russia have a base in Cuba, nukes or no).

But when it's done on US, it's all happy roses and fluffy bunnies.

Bah. YOU bend over and take it, but don't expect anyone else to submit meekly.

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Silver badge

RE: too late

Hiding your phone details from master Bush junior is easy. You just go into any shopping mall in the the US, find one of those little barrows selling mobile phones and ask them for a SIM card. They'll ask you for your address etc... and you say you haven't got one coz you don't live there. They'll then fill in the first thing that comes into their heads so they can take your money and you get a SIM card.

The only time they'll get an ID on you is if you then use a credit card to top up with.

No real worries there either, plenty of places will sell you top ups for cash.

Of course in most of the world you'll need a Passport, or even ID photos to get a SIM card, but in the US you just need green backs.

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Anonymous Coward

These flowers can make a real difference

... carnation, clover, sunflower, honeysuckle, dandelion, ...

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Flame

@Another misleading Reg article

So having the state requesting explicity your "Communication Data (subscriber details, or call records)" does not worry you?

The fact that these requests have also jumped by 50% does not worry you?

The fact that this is done in the name of "public safety" as that GB is one of the unsafer countries of the EU - yet the arrest rate of criminals has not jumped by 50% since last year does not worry you?

Your question title should have been : "Another El Reg article about the state profiling the population" or "An El Reg article about the state lying about safety and still not enforcing law and order" or "Why is the government spending my taxes with no tangible goal" ?

You have all lost the script: the state works for you, but I think that they have now got most of you to bend over and take their stick...

Just remember that 10000 "cyber-protesters" over the internet are ignored by everyone. 10000 people breaking down the barriers and marching down 10 downing street telling the PM that the next time his bureaucracy does somthing stupid like this, it's Trator's Gate - is not.

The old expression was "Give me liberty or give me death". Now it's "Give me my remote control and I'll be happy".

90% of people in GB won't lift a finger, so the country is fscked.

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so we are the enemy

indeed. we, the public, are viewed by our own leaders as the enemy.

if you doubt that, then have a look at our UK national budget, specifically the amount (a HUGE percentage) of the defense budget allocated to... social networking.. yes. this is true. look it up.

these days it is us, the intelegent free thinkers, who are viewed as the primary enemy. of course gvt will never admit to this, but do they need to?. no. because actions speak louder than words.

we are well aware that most 'words' of government are total lies.

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RE: Hold on!

Since when was 519,260 roughly 10% of 50,000,000?

I know that Big Brother teaches us that 2+2=5, but that's stretching it even for Gordon Brownshirt's dodgy stats dept.

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Wacqui-Bacqui Smith

"In his report, Sir Christopher says that council officers... have gone too far on occasion... Some councils using these surveillance methods against council tax dodgers and so forth had shown "serious misunderstanding of the concept of proportionality", and that oversight had been "poor" in some cases."

And she interprets that as providing "reassurance that these powers are being used appropriately."

She is so out of touch with reality that she doesn't even know it exists, let alone which direction it is in.

I think she needs 'intercepting' by 'intelligence.'

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Stop

Liberty is so-ooo last century

The deteriorating civil liberties and privacy situation in this country is absolutely awful. And considering that many of those now in power forged their political careers in opposition to the politics of the '80s, what's happening now is almost beyond comprehension. Has an alien race usurped our government and subverted its traditional political views?

Central and local government, the police and other branches of our state are replacing traditional, "humane" relationships with citizens, with surveillance, snooping, spying and wire-tapping. Forget ethics and the expectation of moral behaviour, they're too unreliable (and the government clearly believes, unattainable), we now have TECH! We'll replace all that fuzzy stuff with fining the citizenry by computer each time they drop a sweet wrapper in the wrong recycling bin, fail to renew a licence, or are seen picking their nose in their vehicle within 50 metres of a box junction.

Anyone protests, taze 'em like cattle (that's coming), or else detain them using the powers of the "Terrorism" Act. Just what is happening? Watching this continual loss of liberty is like watching a boa constrictor wait for its prey to breathe out, only to then tighten its coils, and again, and again, and eventually we won't be able to exhale, or inhale any more.

But hey, the government is "consulting the stakeholders" with each click of the ratchet, so it's all OK. Apparently, each time we're asked (funny, no one's ever asked me), we reply "Yeah, fine, tighten the straightjacket a bit more please - and would you like my web access records too?". Still, at least we can alleviate our fears by posting our exasperation on sites like El Reg, thus feeling like we're protesting in a meaningful way. I'm sure someone in a position of influence who can stop this descent into slavery is reading these comments ... aren't they?

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Freedom Not Fear 2008

For all who are appalled at the loss of privacy and the creeping Orwellian state in which, not just the UK but the whole of Europe is heading, there is a mass protest planned for the 11th October 2008.

"Surveillance, distrust and fear are gradually transforming our society into one of uncritical consumers who have "nothing to hide" and - in a vain attempt to achieve total security - are prepared to give up their freedoms. We do not want to live in such a society! "

If you agree with this statement, then get yourself along.

I also believe that if the UK Government does not get the message on that day, then there "will not" be lots of people quietly going for a walk on the 5th November 2008, independently of each other, pausing - perhaps - to take in the fine architecture that is our Parliment building, perhaps carrying a Guy Fawkes mask. Just for their own entertainment, you understand. It is Guy Fawkes day, after all.

I believe we are currently still not allowed to protest in large numbers in Parliment Square.

So I won't be.

However, if the weather is nice then I might go for a quiet stroll.

Perhaps pausing to look at some fine architecture.

With a mask.

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Run for the hills

I am staggered at the powers for abuse of privacy this country has acquired, what a wake up this and similar stories are. I still can't fully comprehend it, like reading it, but not believing it. It is Orwellian by nature - no sh1t. Pinch me. These issues really frighten me, not that I've much to be frightened about, but apart from much else, it seriously makes me worry for our kids, perhaps the time is neigh for running to the hills (of Andalucía, or Catalonia).

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@ Dangermouse

Thanks for the heads up. Just added that date to my calendar. I only hope that the black-clad griefers don't start chucking MacDonalds restaurants at the police and ruin it all. This is far too serious for that.

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Anonymous Coward

Byelection tomorrow

"there is a mass protest planned for the 11th October 2008."

There's a byelection tomorrow vote the fookers out. If an ex NuLabour MP tries to get a job in your company, speak against their employment. Avoid doing business with companies that hire the most Labour MPs on their boards...

Public protests, well did you see the beating the protestors got when they complained about Bush's visit to the UK? All it takes is an agent provocateur or two and the MET and kick the crap out of you.

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Black Helicopters

@ Byelection tomorrow

"All it takes is an agent provocateur or two and the MET and kick the crap out of you."

You mean like these three?

http://tinyurl.com/6377ns

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Anonymous Coward

@Related news

Yes, but did you read the grovelling apology; I've never seen the like. Unfortunately it won't stop some little h***** doing the same next week; we need citizens who are willing to stand up to put a stop to it.

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Interesting

This statement is interesting, "Some councils using these surveillance methods against council tax dodgers and so forth had shown "serious misunderstanding of the concept of proportionality", and that oversight had been "poor" in some cases."

Surely the council needs to get a court order to Use "these surveillance methods." If this is the case, it must be the courts that have shown "serious misunderstanding of the concept of proportionality". Jaqui should be taking Sir Christopher's report to heart and ensuring that the courts are "re-educated".

If the local council does not need to get the permission of the court, you are all lost!

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Home Sec

"...enabling us to gain that vital intelligence that will prevent a terrorist attack..."

For. F*ck. Sake. Really - how many people buy this BS?

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Jim
Coat

(untitled)

Jacqui Smith says: "These powers can make a real difference ... enabling us to gain that vital intelligence that will prevent a terrorist attack, working to tackle antisocial behaviour or ensuring that rogue traders do not defraud the public."

But Jacqui, what about the children? Surely they are in your thoughts too?

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Coat

@blackworx

You missed the important bit of what was said: "vital intelligence". If the government had any intelligence at all, they wouldn't be doing this. I wonder which minister has use of the cabinet brain cell this week?

Mine's the one with the bugging device and planted incriminating evidence.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

Anyone want to work on an EMP device to knock out police radios within 20m?

That would be useful.

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Anonymous Coward

No weapons of mass destruction

No terrorist attacks.

Just big brother and their made up stories.

I think, no one can be naive enough know to think that all of this 'for your own protection' was anything but spin, hype and nonsense; just a way to create a surveillance society.

Most of the surveillance carried out is for new laws of dubious moral credibility. Laws that in the past when they have reared their 'maintain the status quo heads', have often lead to revolution. The surveillance systems are designed not to protect us, but to protect against revolution.

Each day our liberties erode more, and it becomes clearer that the majority of the human race are destined to live in servitude or imprisoned in slavery. It is happening quite gradually and we are very much like the frog slowly being boiled alive.

If we are to go to revolution, I hope it is a revolution for democracy, one person one vote. No more MPs, no more parliament, every issue voted on by all.

We have the technology to achieve this and still be agile, the country is already setup to deal with things at regional, city, town, even village level.

We could vote what level of tax we wish to pay, vote in police forces, vote them out, vote in doctors, vote in judges. Vote to allow CCTV in some areas, vote to disallow it in other areas. Vote for speed cameras, vote to remove them. Vote to rescind laws, vote to create laws; laws the majority agrees to. Vote for liberty.

The country should be for the people, the populace is knowledgeable enough now, and most grasp the fundamentals of government, perhaps it is time we govern ourselves, and really live in a democracy

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Anonymous Coward

taglines

"If you are from the government and you are reading thins, I just hacked the Treasury"

"By the time you have read this, I just SQL injected your ass and now all your web belong to us"

"Whilst you are reading this, I'm downloading your stash of porn"

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Anonymous Coward

Abuse

The level of powers local councils now have is absurd and in my view, a breach of privacy. What business is of the council that they should have access to my private phone and internet records?

If they suspect a crime has been committed - such as fraudently claiming benefits - they already have snoopers that can be used to obtain the evidence and they can involve the police to investigate.

I do not trust some lowly paid jobs worth never-get-fired no matter what I do wrong lazy local council official one iota.

This Labour government has gone way too far in breaching civil liberties.

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Pirate

@Dangermouse

Thanks for the heads up, I may have to pop into london on Oct 11th and 'accidentally' take my guy fawkes mask with me...

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Pirate

@Dangermouse

Hai Guize,

10000 people with Epic Fail Guy / Guy Fawkes / V for Vendetta masks !

Anonymous iz in ur skware pwning your MP'z!

Shame 4chan does no longer have /i/ to plan this, then again, this will be the first stop for the Party Van...

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The majority of those requests

I can explain where at least 2 of those requests came from with a simple example:

P: "Police Emergency"

C: "Help he's got a knife and he's about to kill...." bzzzt.

P: "Hello caller"

P: "Hello caller"

P to Inspector "May I do a RIPA subscriber check to get the address details for this number?"

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Unhappy

Are we nearly there yet?

Breaking point!

Surely we must be at breaking point pretty soon.

Either all this nonsense will evaporate like morning mist in strong July sunlight or we are living in some Hammer film where the mist lasts until we kill the monster.

Is this anti-terror health and safety stuff fooling anyone? How long is everyone gonna politely pretend they think it's nessasary?

I have only been fully awake to this since about January, before I thought it was just the Labour gov being incompetant.

It was only when I left school did I look back at school and realise how thoroghly I hated the experience. We will look back on this period of history and wonder how we ever put up with this abuse.

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