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back to article Industry ponders fate of Wacky Jacqui's überdatabase

Home Office officials will today meet industry respresentatives to discuss delays to a consultation on plans to massively expand government surveillance of the internet, sources say. Jacqui Smith announced in October she would seek views on the controversial Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP). The consultation paper was …

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Anonymous Coward

hmm

Hmm even more reasons to stear clear of british terrorcom

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Anonymous Coward

Or perhaps

Having given the next few years tax revenues to the banks, they are looking for savings.

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"kicked into the long grass"

We live in hope. Pity we cant kick her Wackness into 'the long grass' as well.

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Anonymous Coward

@Maintaining capability

A flash from the past, the year is 1995 and Oracle are touting their MASSIVE database technology:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_1995_Dec_13/ai_17859722

"Oracle Government's ATC is part high-tech database showroom ....Aimed especially at showcasing the performance of LARGE databases......."When customers are dealing with systems of 100 gigabytes of data...."

Gosh 100 gigabytes ? Wow, what a huge capacity database was available in 1995!

Make no mistake, the ability to monitor, record and datamine communications is new, it came with the massive database capability, nowadays 100 GB is smaller than the entry level PC comes with and the processing power of a modern PC is far beyond the Pentium 133mhz that was cutting edge in those days.

The technology is there to place everyone in a fish bowl and monitor their every action, this is a new and dangerous technology, and nobody can be honest and admit it's new, or open it up for rational debate.

Whenever you hear someone say "Maintain capability' they are trying to suppress debate by pretending the capability existed when it did not.

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Industry ponders fate of Wacky Jacqui

The databases can wait - the industry is waiting for her replacement c/w his/her own set of personal values, attitudes, insecurities, and peccadillos. (Policy? The industry makes policy - politicans are there only to sell it).

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How can they refuse

"Today a spokesman refused to provide a precise date".

I'm not sure when this happened but since when did public servents get the right to refuse to answer direct questions on matters of public interest?

You see it all the time:

" The Home Office refused to comment..."

"The MP remained silent on the questions put to him/her...."

How about some legislation that forces public servents to answer questions put to them by the public excepting groups of National Security etc...

That the answer is embarassing will NOT be accepted..

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Lets try and slow down the spin

Some Annon govt mouthpiece has been mixing these 2 things together for some time now.

Interception Modernisation Programme. Enabling return of the days when BT was the only provider and MI5 could tap any line. Pricey but not an unreasonable objective. Probably achievabl with shift to common IP based backbone for all telco's.

The Uberdatabase. Which has no apparent name and whos actual cost is not split out as a seperate line item. £12bn is the total and civil servants have admitted as much to el reg that that's just a figure based on "Its got to big so we thought it should be more than £10bn"

IE Untill we can get someone who builds big database systems and wont laugh at us we've got f"£$k all idea how much it should be.

Has there been any actual *proper* announcements in the Commons on this? Obviously as the primary law making body in the United Kingdom their interest is likely to minimal but it would be interesting if there were.

I was going to go with a Wackiness kicked into the long grass gag but I not amused enough by this to do so.

Lets be clear. IMP-> not unreasonable. Uberdatabase -> Massive waste of money.

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Waqui Jaqui's Database

But they think that they can get it all together in one database – they’ve been listening to the TV licensing advert “it’s all in the database”

This won’t work :

a) because it is a large scale public sector IT project and is doomed to failure before they start. The companies throwing their hat into the ring will be on a gravy train and the tenders and contracts will so badly written the taxpayer will have to pay for the failure!

b) The volume of data is simply too big - YottaYottaYottabyte databases anyone?

Also take a look at this :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/28/surveillance-ben-goldacre

to see how much use all this data might be !

The next big thing will be the census in 2011 and what will they be asking for specifically on this document that will get transferred into bigdata ?

Oh yes, one final thing : lots and lots and lots of data and absolutely no mistakes. Much of this data will be put in manually by low paid people who don’t care.

If you want detail on what's involved on our Surveillance Society take a look at this

followup at

http://www.commenteer.co.uk/

to a comment by Steve Cragg Posted Wednesday 25th February 2009 09:34 GMT

His comment is here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/25/cctv_drinks_checks/comments/

So, lets count this all up...

On another hot topic raging on El Reg is Phorm - will the internet traffic captured include all the Phorm pages/adverts fed to us - can bigdata search this and can we ask Phorm under data protection what they have on us???

I've nothing to hide but plenty to fear

It seems that _they_ don’t trust us … the fact is we don’t trust _them_!

Where's the icon for I want to leave the country now?

If I were a lot younger than I am now I wouldn't want to live here any more!

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Alert

Should be Easy to Persuade Labour MPs

It should be easy to persuade Labour MPs to support dropping these kinds of Stasi-like plans. Just ask them how they feel about the Tories running such a police state.

In opposition, will Labour MPs, party members, supporters and activists feel safe and free to operate? They'll be under constant surveillance by the Tory police state! They'll have everything logged, their movements tracked, the laws will be in place to allow intrusive, covert surveillance on the flimsiest of grounds, etc, etc.

Wake up, Labour, to your own nightmare!

Plus they can easily spin the abandonment of such projects as re-prioritising spending during this time of challenging economic circumstances.

If you're local MP is Labour, please take the opportunity to write to them and ask them how they'll feel once the Tories are in control of New Labour's half-build police state.

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Re: Lets try and slow down the spin

I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Remember the stuff last year about needing to use a passport to buy a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile phone?

The spin was that PAYG mobiles meant a loss of law-enforcement and security capabilities. Unlike land-lines and mobiles with contracts, PAYG mobiles were unregistered, and therefore users were effectively anonymous. This was spun as being like a "loophole" that had opened up, due to advances in telecommunications technology. Such proposals as the need to register whenever buying a PAYG mobile were said to be necessary in order to keep up with changing, advancing technology.

What rubbish!

Half a century ago, it was quite normal for people not to have their own, domestic land-lines. What did people do? They used public phone boxes - anonymously! You didn't have to provide proof of ID to use a phone box. You certainly didn't have to use a passport to register just to be able to use public phone boxes. And I'm sure it's a bit of a spy thriller cliché for the secret agent to keep using a different phone box each time, and at a different time of day, so as to avoid being easily tracked.

And don't forget that this common-place anonymous use of public phone boxes was going on during the Cold War, when we faced far bigger dangers than al-Qaeda.

PAYG mobiles are just the modern equivalent of people using phone boxes when they didn't want, or couldn't affort, the luxury of a land-line to their own home. And even unregistered, mobiles are no less susceptible to surveillance - probably a lot more susceptible than those phone boxes fifty years ago, simply because the State has so much more technology available to it.

So this stuff about things like IMP being needed just to keep up with technological developments is, quite frankly, a load of dingos' kidneys.

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Come on people, put your voice to it...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=46271966027&ref=share

People seem to be *SLOWLY* waking up to what's going on. Will you all *PLEASE* join the group and get some discussions going...

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Unhappy

£12bn

"It's been reported that a ubiquitous system has been costed at £12bn, although the figure is thought to be speculative."

The speculation is "How much do we think you are willing to sign up to, at least publically?" on the part of the industry partners making the estimates.

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MnM

@John Smith

'Enabling return of the days when BT was the only provider and MI5 could tap any line.'

In my schooldays, there were occasional discussions about whether it was safe to talk openly about drugs on the phone. I reckoned no-one really worried enough about what I was up to to bother listening in. There was a black helicopter brigade, though, who liked to think that all calls were centrally monitored for key words. That was nonsense then as the technology wasn't there, but I don't think it would necessarily be nonsense now.

I'm not against IMP, but it has a more pervasive character to it than you suggest. Coincidentally, it's reported today (not by El Reg for some reason) that gov is considering using the border control system to prevent those with unpaid fines from leaving the country. 'Whilst not a key e-borders priority, e-borders could also contribute to compliance on fine enforcement.' Callous mission creep which I don't believe for a moment will ever see the light of day, but shows the Home Office has its nutters.

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Unhappy

Jacqui Stasi says

"The content of communications will not be monitored".

And does anyone believe her?

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Anonymous Coward

The Pay Phone

Never before have I seen so much sense written by AC. So simple when you know how. GCHQ will be so busy monitoring all the innocent citizens that a phone call / email between 2 pay phones won't even be noticed until the folks in the phone box are long gone. What a way to spread disinformation and have GCHQ chasing their tails, not knowing where to look.

Wait a minute - aren't pay phones being phased out because no one uses them any more? I only know of one with a mile of where I live - and that includes 6 shopping centres.

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@MnM

"There was a black helicopter brigade, though, who liked to think that all calls were centrally monitored for key words"

They were partly right. I think Duncan Campbell did a series of articles on this in the New Statesman.

AFAIK all telcos install spare trunk capacity between exchanges. Back then on Home Office requests a tap could be placed on the local loop pair and routed via some of this spare capacity trunk to desks at the monitoring centre. Not sure where but either Dollis Hill (old GPO tech centre) or Menwith Hill ring bells (but I think that's a USAF base). Installation was done by specific GPO/BT security techs visiting the exchange and was (supposedly) either reported by 'exchange staff to their union, the subscriber concerned or simply disconnected.

You need to think offline batch processing rather than real time re-cog. Batch onto tape. Note time & date for flagging purposes. Play tape to mainframe when full. Tape cheap. Mainframe time expensive but process not time limited.

" it has a more pervasive character to it than you suggest"

The near instant on-demand tapping of any UK (and I believe mobile once it reaches a mast) phone number, ready formatted for input into a real time speech recog (Linux clusters are not just for the good things in life) or piping to a human monitor system, with the number of lines tappable limited only by trunk capacity bandwidth (which should be adjustable by fiddling with the QoS bits) is *not* pervasive enough for you? Waiting for the real time position monitoring upgrade perhaps?

"the Home Office has its nutters"

Judging by its behaviour at times some might think that's a requirement to work in formulating policy.

Mines the old anorak with a library card in the pocket.

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Government, Privacy invaision and BT

Well would seem BT, Labour and spying all meet usinb BT network which has more hop baock without movingb very far on the internet then they add in the extra hops for the webwise profiler to gther ore information without consent. Would be a who lot of information. If these two keep heading they way they are the whole WWW will become encrypted.

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Joke

OMG

Is someone beta testing amanfrommars simulators again?

But on a more usefule note. Spellcheck is our friend.

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Anonymous Coward

What next?

The arguments being used to support this draconian mesaure could equally well be used as a reason to put a microphone on every pub and restaurant table to record every conversation. And it's going to cost billions of pounds? Surely the country needs to save billions of pounds at the moment. Why not ditch this 'Big Brother' idea and, while they're at it, the stupid biometric ID cards?

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Black Helicopters

@AC Mon 16th 22:01

"It should be easy to persuade Labour MPs to support dropping these kinds of Stasi-like plans. Just ask them how they feel about the Tories running such a police state.

In opposition, will Labour MPs, party members, supporters and activists feel safe and free to operate? They'll be under constant surveillance by the Tory police state! They'll have everything logged, their movements tracked, the laws will be in place to allow intrusive, covert surveillance on the flimsiest of grounds, etc, etc.

Wake up, Labour, to your own nightmare!...."

Good God, the old 'Labour Good, Tories Bad" moronic mindset still flourishes, it appears.

Tories OPPOSE this, and Labour ARE RUSHING IT THROUGH with the SUPPORT OF LABOUR MP's, you silly little man (or woman).

To have someone saying that the main reason for opposing a draconian NuLabour police-state is the fear that the wicked tories might get hold of it is so utterly ludicrous it defies belief, analysis and rational explanation.

I can only surmise that AC sneaked onto the Nurse's computer whilst their attention was distracted by another inmate/patient...

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Boffin

@John Smith

<"There was a black helicopter brigade, though, who liked to think that all calls were centrally monitored for key words"

They were partly right. I think Duncan Campbell did a series of articles on this in the New Statesman.>

I hope so:-

For quite some time now I have readily sprinkled my emails, text messages and phone calls with (what I presume to be) suspect key words just for the sheer hell of it...

Anything to annoy our 2nd-Home Secretary...

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Tom
Unhappy

Kicked in the long grass?

No, just public naysaying, the public impression of general abolition of said IMP, then stealth roll out, used for much more clandestine purposes. Come on, do you think such a breach of privacy, no matter how taylored the law is, could ever be used without opposition in a court of law?

This system will be tantamount in issuing the gaut'mo backbacker a long stay ticket....

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Anonymous Coward

@Ted Treen

You misunderstand me. Badly.

"Good God, the old 'Labour Good, Tories Bad" moronic mindset still flourishes, it appears."

I'm assuming so, among many Labour party members, supporters and activists, anyway. In fact, in my post, I'm relying on it. It's not how I see things, though.

"Tories OPPOSE this, and Labour ARE RUSHING IT THROUGH with the SUPPORT OF LABOUR MP's, you silly little man (or woman)."

You really do misunderstand my post enormously.

I know the Tories express opposition, but that's hardly going to persuade Labour MPs to drop support for the government's plans, is it? Opposition from a perspective that Labour already disagree with is hardly going to be persuasive to Labour members.

Instead, I was trying to look at it from a Labour perspective. It doesn't mean I agree with Labour perspectives, or see things from those perspectives myself. My point was that from Labour's own perspectives, what they're doing is a really bad idea.

"To have someone saying that the main reason for opposing a draconian NuLabour police-state is the fear that the wicked tories might get hold of it is so utterly ludicrous it defies belief, analysis and rational explanation."

Remembering the '80s, how do you think many Labour members still regard the Tories?

Arguments that rely on seeing things from a perspective that your opponent fundamentally disagrees with are hardly going to be persuasive to your opponent, are they? Your opponent will simply disagree with such arguments, simply because, from their own perspective, the arguments appear plainly wrong.

Instead, a more Socratic-like approach might be much more effective. Start with exploring the issue from your opponent's own perspective, and see where that will lead. When it leads to something your opponent surely regards as truly bad - such as the Tories soon having the kind of police state (albeit unfinished) they could only dream of but dare not build back in the '80s - such an approach might be much more effective than dumbly relying on your opponent seeing things from a perspective they already fundamentally disagree with.

Do you still think I'm a "silly little man (or woman)"?

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Go

@Ted Treen

"Good God, the old 'Labour Good, Tories Bad" moronic mindset still flourishes, it appears"

Actually this works both ways. The people who are so hot for this *never* thinks it can be mis-used, or turned against them.

The real problem is the authoritarian nature of of some politicians and the fondness of some civil servants for a neat and tidy world. The believe they have an absolute *right* to have this information. They convieniently forget any previous data losses and *never* think any of it could be lost again. Party labels are irrelevant in this respect.

"For quite some time now I have readily sprinkled my emails, text messages and phone calls with (what I presume to be) suspect key words"

I suspect the filter routines have advanced to the point where random trigger words will be ignored. However a reverse code might be effective. Choosing, for example, a favourite pub as the "Bunker," pints become magazines and re-christen your favourite tiple as "a dirty bomb." Organising a night out by phone, email or text becomes a whole lot more entertaining, possibly with the addition of some mystery visitors.

Sprinkling your communications with say five digit random numbers (easy for humans to ignore) but confusing and highly suspect for computer analysis is more blatant. Again more fun with friends in on the gag.

If a large scale mass monitoring excercise is *not* being undertaken this is merely a bit of harmless fun and will waste nobodies time in the war on terror. OTOH...

Please continue such pranks as often as possible.

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Coat

AC@23:01

You may be well meaning but your misguided.

Ministers normally vote as they are told. It's kind of a job requirement. There are a lot of Ministers and Junior ministers in this government.

People who think this is a brilliant idea *never* think it could be turned on them or believe it will allow them to stay in power forever.

This is a state of mind issue, not a party issue. There are people who *like* the idea of the future as "A boot stamping on a human face forever." Their boot, or one of their staff. Delegation is the essence of good tyranny

You might start with your own MP. Then move on to committee members who cover the "Committee" stage of Bills

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Spooked again

All assurances from the spooks and government that the actual content of communications will not be scanned should be regarded with the same scepticism as statements such as " We abhor torture in all its forms and would never, ever authorise its use under any circumstances."

As we are now discovering, what this really means is " except in cases where we believe national security may be at risk. " Well, with MI5 being our national security agency, that's their asses well and truly covered against everything. And besides, for a small consideration the dirty work can be outsourced to less fastidious agencies in other countries. It worked for Pontius Pilate didn't it?

So UK tax payers can confidently look forward to the day when one of New Labour's satellite partners is slurping up public funds while they drool over your private correspondence.

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Black Helicopters

@AC 23.01

Q). Do you still think I'm a "silly little man (or woman)"?

Indded, Sir (or Madam) I do.

Phrases like "...- such as the Tories soon having the kind of police state (albeit unfinished) they could only dream of but dare not build back in the '80s -..." is a monstrously arrogant presumption that you are correct in your statement that Tories dream of a latter-day Cheka, but dare not institute it.

Being of 1950 vintage myself, I remember the '80s very well and your statement is utterly incorrect.

It is at best, sophistry.

And as regards "In opposition, will Labour MPs, party members, supporters and activists feel safe and free to operate? They'll be under constant surveillance by the Tory police state! They'll have everything logged, their movements tracked, the laws will be in place to allow intrusive, covert surveillance on the flimsiest of grounds, etc, etc."

I don't suppose you recall one Damian Green, subject to political harassment by NuLab's tame enforcers (the Met), with the utterly cynical washing-of-hands by Gorbals Mick - rapidly learning the Macavity approach from his master - and passing of blame and therefore responsibility to his rather hapless Serjant-at-Arms.

NuLab have plumbed new depths in sleaze, arrogance, and general contempt for the rest of us - so to say to them "Do not support this - it may be used against you in the future" is totally missing the point.

It is naive in the utmost.

The cry is "Do not support this - the electorate do not want it and it has no place in a free and democratic society".

As NuLab are hell-bent on removing our freedoms & democratic processes, I can only repeat that there comes a time when rebellion is not only the right of every honest citizen, but also their inescapable civic duty.

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Stop

Fill the money trough, they are hungry again

"We do plan to organise a meeting with the IMP team to give ISPA members the opportunity to discuss the forthcoming consultation"

Wow thats a lot of thinking about talking about thinking to talk about thinking what to talk about. I'm so happy they explained that. Its now so clear to me. It just leaves me with one unanswered question. How much money are they wasting thinking about talking to think about etc..

These self-important political wannabees playing at lets hold "important" meetings seem to be a bottomless pit for money. They can just create as many departments and as many meetings as they wish to absorb as much money as they can. So no matter how much tax money is collected, they still want ever more tax money to allow them to create ever more meetings and departments. Ever more self-important noses in the money trough and we have to pay for it, as they make the laws, like how much to pay them.

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Joke

AC@12:19

"a reason to put a microphone on every pub and restaurant table to record every conversation."

Ah, you've seen the advanced Phase 2 roll out plan?

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