I personally believe the model that the Interception Modernisation Programme will indeed be that of the NSA. Russell Tice, the whistleblower who revealed details of his NSA work in the warrantless eavesdropping programme, has made further revelations on NSBC this week. Now it maybe that he is just a disgruntled ex-employee with an axe to grind, but it could well be true. He confirms all the paranoid conspiracy theories about the NSA listening in to everything is pretty much true. It is not Echelon. There are a variety of programmes operated (e.g. Stellar Wind). According to James Bamford's book 'The Shadow Factory' Echelon was the name for operations in the old days when it was relatively easy to set-up listening stations around the world tapping into all the signals bouncing around between satellites & over copper wires. Today is much harder as fibre optics is used & it isn't as easy as previously. That's why the UK government would need to set-up a nationwide network of 'black boxes'.
The most recent revelations are that everything that is going over the communications system: faxes, e-mails, phone calls, web searches, etc. are all collected for NSA analysis. It all gets filtered through the massive supercomputers (as no human workforce could possibly monitor everything) where it gets flagged up for further investigation by people. Apparently all sorts of things could trigger an investigation: a series of short phone calls, use of certain keywords, etc. Reminds me very much of that scene out of The Simpsons Movie where Marge & the kids are caught on the train because the NSA overheard their conversation. Certainly sounds like a boring career. Anyway the information is then stored in massive data warehouses. It might be later data-mined & cross referenced with credit card records. Apparently journalists were particularly targeted for surveillance. Further info here:
I have little faith in this government's reassurances about the purpose of the IMP. I suspect they sorely want their own ability to intercept communications like the Americans. I wouldn't be surprised if they intend sharing it too. They would probably data-mine for suspicious patterns, who's talking to who, etc. I suspect the easing of data transference between government departments is to allow a legal basis to build up a detailed profile of the entire populationby sharing tasty titbits. Unfortunately I think everything will be pulled in. Certainly one article has suggested it will make things a lot harder for investigative journalists:
One interesting thing Tice mentioned (& others have touched on in their comments) in the Ars Technica article is that the amount of information is the biggest problem. So it is possible that generating more false information maybe some kind of cover. But apparently even that base might be covered as the NSA are (according to Bamford) buying even more powerful supercomputers capable of utterly astonishing number-crunching.