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back to article UK's emergency data slurp: IT giants panicked over 'legal uncertainty'

The UK government secured the backing of the country's main political parties today to rush an emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (DRIP) through Parliament just seven days before MPs break for summer recess. It comes after communications providers and telcos who operate in Britain but have headquarters based …

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Facepalm

IET and others have it right. Hasty legislation, improperly scrutinised, and even then scrutiny by the ignorant.

Oh, and Yvette - sod orf and get a proper education. Your husband might wish to do so too.

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Hasty ??

This legislation retains an existing capability for the police and security services in the absence of the EU directive.

Also in respect of liberal concerns there is an expansion of the oversight, more transparency and a decrease in the public bodies that can access this data.

As a piece of emergency legislation it does seem to be OK.

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Re: Hasty ?? @Titus Technophobe

What's the emergency? And how does this legislation address this in any meaningful way? At best communications data can help clean up the mess after something has happened. It's unlikely to stop anything though.

The Data Retention Directive was itself pushed through Europe largely at the behest of the home office here during the UK's presidency of the EU, and that was in response to the 7/7 and Madrid bombings. If memory serves the coroner at the 7/7 inquest basically said that any additional data would have been useless with regards to preventing that particular atrocity given the way in which they communicated, so even the DRD failed to achieve any of it's aims.

And as far as oversight is concerned, following the US model isn't going to do us any good. This has been implemented over there is one form or another since 2004 and they still manage to get the NSA abusing their powers.

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Re: Hasty ?? @Titus Technophobe

You might want to also take a look at section 1(3) through to section 1(7) of the proposed legislation. It would appear to give the secretary of state far too much power and leeway.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/328939/draft-drip-bill.pdf

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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

Funny how it takes a week to put this in place but we have to wait until 2016 for any meaningful review (let alone changes to the legislation).

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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

Section 1(3): the 'I'll-do-what-I-want-to-thank-you-very-much' clause.

Because discretion has worked so well when it comes to overly broad warrants and ministerial authority up til now...

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Re: Hasty ??

No type of 'emergency' legislation should ever become part of any (democratic) country's legal structure. If there's a state of permanent emergency that means the government, any government, has failed, completely and utterly. They are obviously incapable of 'leading' a country using the tools and resources already in place.

You know, the those tools and resources they promised to use so effectively if the people only believed in them and voted to put them in office. If they can't make things work within the bounds of 'non-emergency' legislation they are simply unfit for purpose.

All democracies put up with quite a bit of bullshit from their elected lawmakers, because there's the idea those elected know what they're doing. Otherwise not many people would have anything to do with the greasy, ethically deficient grundle scrapers that run for office. They sell themselves as beneficial for the nation because they understand the intricacies of the law and can get the most accomplished because of that self professed expertise.

But if they can't get their job done unless they change the rules there's simply no need for the public to fuck around with sleezeballs you wouldn't let within 1000m of your daughter, or livestock. It doesn't require any special skills to make up new rules that suit your purposes, anyone can do that. Since anyone can make up new rules, let's move to elect fun, hilarious people with interesting personalities. Get rid of the predatory used car salesmen and replace them with people who are at least entertaining.

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Emergency!

There is no point making a challenge to our new emergency law since it will automatically end in 2016 when we will have a new law that everyone will like...

2016: Emergency!

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Unhappy

Re: Hasty ??

"No type of 'emergency' legislation should ever become part of any (democratic) country's legal structure. If there's a state of permanent emergency that means the government, any government, has failed, completely and utterly. They are obviously incapable of 'leading' a country using the tools and resources already in place."

And yet that's exactly what happened with THE PATRIOT Act.

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Trollface

Old stopgap measures never die

They tend to outlive laws designed for eternity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hasty ??

I have of course no idea how accurate this might be, but years ago I was told by a credible source that in the UK (notably, more so than in other Western European countries) the elected politicians are little more than figureheads without real power, with policy--strategic, not just day-to-day--being decided on by the Mandarins.

Personally, I don't see why we should wait until the revolution. We've got plenty of suitable walls already.

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Absence??

In the presence of the directive.

In the face of the directive.

Not in its absence.

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Re: Hasty ??

Somewhere I have the response my Congressional Representative at the time sent to me regarding my protestation of the PATRIOT Act. He agreed some of the measures were heavy handed, but extreme measures were needed to ward off terrorists. Besides, he said, the specific parts of the Act you don't approve of have sunset clauses and require Congress to reauthorize them or they automatically expire.

He says 'I will not be voting for an extension of the Act when the time to vote arrives'. Yeah, he voted for the extension. The Moosedick.

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Re: Hasty ??

Uparrrowed. But let's replace them with people who have a minimum of half a brain, rather than comedians.

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Re: Hasty ??

Hey! Comedians are often quite smart, and funny.

Unlike politicians who appear - on the whole - to be neither.

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Re: Old stopgap measures never die

See the 'temporary emergency measure' of raising money by income tax. Imposed to help HMG raise money in 1799.

Another of Britannia's contributions to a grateful world.

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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

The whole thing is looking a bit odd, but I'll concede the need for some legislation. I'm not lawyer enough to be sure whether RIPA provides any real protection for anyone. I don't have much confidence in the current government and their intentions. If there's a way to screw us, they'll use it.

But I do know you're missing one thing. This law will operate until 2016, and then it stops working. That's a good idea for this sort of emergency law. That doesn't mean we have to live with it until then. The next parliament could replace it before then, no legal problem at all. We need to watch they don't amend away the sunset clause, but whoever wins the election could start work on the long-term replacement as soon as they take over. And I hope we elect a government that is willing to listen to us, as well as the Americans.

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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

Could you list all the "temporary legislations" made in the past 50 years that have since been revoked, please? This will simply be rubber-stamped and become permanent in 2016

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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe@Dave Bell

but I'll concede the need for some legislation

Only if the aim is to allow the government to continue as before.

Incidentally RIPA has been in effect for 14 years now so they've had more than enough time and opportunities for reviewing it, but putting this to one side for a moment: if it takes up to 2 years to review RIPA properly then what's the bet that a law published and passed in less than a week with no real scrutiny will end up being badly executed and dangerous for all of us?

The government keep on shouting 'terrorist' but always seem to fail to actually provide anything that actually justifies what they want. Anybody that wants another example of this should look to the other side of the pond. The story put out started with dozens of plots being foiled by all their pet programs and projects - then that number started to mysteriously shrink rather suddenly.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/2/nsa-chief-figures-foiled-terror-plots-misleading/?page=all

Don't forget that Cameron is somebody who seems to think that the likes of NCIS:LA show why we need this. Taking him seriously is extremely difficult sometimes.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10608439/David-Cameron-TV-crime-dramas-show-need-for-snoopers-charter.html

Would anybody care to bet on the likelihood of people in the UK being just as economical with the truth?

The new legislation doesn't even properly address the legal problems raised by the judgement (blanket as opposed to targeted surveillance for one thing). We could as country still end up in court at the European level thanks to this bill, sunset clause or no sunset clause.

This law will operate until 2016, and then it stops working.

So it might be one almighty cock up but we'll only have to live with it for 2 years so that's OK then? (assuming of course that they don't just pass another 'emergency' measure since the election would have already taken place by then and MPs minds will be elsewhere).

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Facepalm

Short version

"We've been accused of spying illegally. So we're going to make a law to make it all legal"

Here's a hint guys - the uproar wasn't about the legality of it all.

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Anonymous Coward

Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

1. Is he referring to UK being the only "democratic" country in the world where there is a law allowing surveilance without a court order?

2. Is he referring to the UK being the only "democratic" country in the world where your village council can enact surveilance on you without a court order?

3. Is he referring to the UK being the only "democratic" country in the world where private companies such as the Royal Mail are allowed to enact surveilance on you without a court order?

In the USA - FISA may be a cangaroo court serving the needs of cangaroo legilsation, but it is a court none the less. Even in what are, supposedly - according to UK press, dictatorships like Russia you actually _HAVE_ to get a court order to do that. The only "democratic" country in the world where you do not need a court order is UK because of the "safeguards" in RIPA. Are these the safeguards he is referring to? Yes, I know, I should move along, these are not the safeguards I am looking for.

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Re: Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

Uh....

What USA are you from?..

The one I am from just makes a blanket order to cover "Terror'ish't" suspects.

Your a suspect if your skin is too dark, if your skin is too light, if you speak another language, if you have ever flown to another country, used email, facebook, twitter, myspace, instant messaging apps, made phone calls.

I think what the UK is asking for is to retain METADATA (as the US would put it)... If you think that the government servers that store all of that data keeps it locked up until a specific court order appears then your a fool.

The only get-out-jail clause is when your accused of a crime and illegal evidence is used against you, you can have it thrown out plus whatever direct discover has happened because of it. If your up for "terrorism" charges then even illegal data can be used.

Hook me up with this "Democracy" your talking about, I have no knowledge of any existing on this planet.

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Re: Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

2. Is he referring to the UK being the only "democratic" country in the world where your village council can enact surveilance on you without a court order?

The parish council? Are you sure about this?

3. Is he referring to the UK being the only "democratic" country in the world where private companies such as the Royal Mail are allowed to enact surveilance on you without a court order?

The Royal Mail being one of the organisations who won't have access under the emergency legislation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

> I think what the UK is asking for is to retain METADATA

You understanding of RIPA is dangerously flawed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

> The parish council? Are you sure about this?

Can't answer for the other poster, but yes, that is correct. We touched upon the subject during my IT studies, and if you do a search on Google News or similar you shall be enlightened too.

Edited to say: you don't even need to arse yourself with the Google search. At least one poster below this gives more details.

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Re: Which safeguards of RIPA is he referring to?

No mention of Parish councils .... that I can find on Google or otherwise.

That is looking for references to RIPA, and no the revision ... where it is proposed to limit the access of a number of public sector organisations.

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Big Brother

Oh yeah?

"The politicos said that the country's current Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) already had the necessary safeguards in place to address the privacy flaws found in the European Union's Data Retention Directive."

Like the "safeguards" which allowed local councils all over the country to send out undercover jobsworths to spy upon and film people just to check if they were in the catchment area of schools to which they'd sought access for their kids, or to identify if their mutt had crapped on a verge?

Yes, dog mess is antisocial, but the glee with which these (generally unelected) arseholes rushed out to play at James Bond or Spooks shows how dangerous it is to give any more power to politicos.

You never know who'll end up (mis)using it. Misuse of power is as certain as death and taxes.

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Gimp

Let's see if they do retire it in 2016.

May thought this one up herself?

Surely you jest?

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Re: Let's see if they do retire it in 2016.

Which brings up an interesting question: how much time were the spooks and other civil servants involved in this allowed to draft it before making any of it public?

Anybody that wants to know how well sunset clauses work need only look at the US. The PATRIOT act has been around for ~13 years now.

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Re: Let's see if they do retire it in 2016.

Of course they will. After all they are equally going to repeal income tax after the Napoleonic Wars had concluded.

So, you see that, er...

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Re: Let's see if they do retire it in 2016.

@Vimes

You've hit on an issue a lot of people don't know much about. The 'think tank' approach to lawmaking has been extremely popular in the US and UK since the end of WWII. It's kind of like catalog shopping for laws.

It's not that those think tanks are at the center of a huge conspiracy. It's that they spend their time writing up policy and law proposals. The variety of nearly turn-key law proposals is stunning and exhaustively comprehensive. You tell them what your looking for and they give you a suitable, 99.9% complete, law proposal for anything you can imagine. It's all really fucked up.

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Governmental figures under fire for allegedly covering up criminal activity in the 1980s, under further fire for appointing a clearly unsuitable person to head up the enquiry into said allegations - who would have guessed that there would be a "look over there - druggie-paedo-terrorists!!!" moment?

I still consider the politicians and civil "servants" in Westminster to be a bigger threat than any amount of drug dealers, paedophiles, or terrorists.

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Anonymous Coward

I wait with interest to learn the outcome of the abuse scandal. Then we can see which laws were actually supported by the guilty ones...

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Anonymous Coward

Are you surprised

This is the same government that had Andrew Coulson appointed to head PR

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/world/europe/andy-coulson-to-be-sentenced-in-phone-hacking-case.html?_r=0

and Patrick Rock to define what we are allowed to browse on the Internet.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/david-cameron-s-advisor-quits-after-being-arrested-on-suspicion-of-child-porn-offences-490901

Though, giving it a second thought, it is not surprising to see them pushing such stuff. When your mind is corrupted, you tend to expect that everybody else is like you too. They should stop treating everyone as "one of them", most of us are "reasonably" normal you know.

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Overseas firms

So we were worried that Huawei gear contained back doors that slurped data to China.

Now we require that all foreign owned ISPs collect all the UK's data and store it where it will be subject to any secret intelligence courts which demand that is is handed over to that country's spooks.

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Re: Overseas firms

re Huawei

It should be obvious by now, that the "problem" with Huawei gear is that it DOESN'T have backdoors.

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Re: Overseas firms

Please excuse my piggybacking ignorance, but how is Huawei pronounced? At the minute, I've got Ant and Dec saying it in a thick Geordie accent and I'm not sure that's right?

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Re: Overseas firms

For whatever it's worth

Wiki ( IIRC ) has HW's " prefered pronounciation" along the lines of Hwa Hway - which is how the telecoms guys I know say it.

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Re: Overseas firms

There's a YouTube video of one of their senior people explaining how it should be pronounced. I don't have the URL, but it is like you say.

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A Friday afternoon upgrade

> rush an emergency ... Bill through Parliament just seven days before MPs break for summer recess

Every support person's nightmare:

It's 10 to 5, Friday afternoon. You've filled in your timesheet and your expenses. You've closed the trouble-ticket system and then ... the phone rings.

"Hello, this is Fred from <your biggest customer> Inc. I wonder if you can help me. I've been trying to get this upgrade to work all week as we have to go live on Monday morning. I know I've left it a bit late but could you help me as I really need it working by Monday?"

As so it goes with legislation: if you're going to enact new laws, then give yourself time to work out all the bugs in it before you bugger off on holiday until October. And if this "emergency patch" is needed because your last attempt was found to be unlawful, all the more reason to make sure someone is there to fix your cock-up if this version suffers the same shortcomings.

But do they learn? Do they hell!

And regarding the five-o'clock call? The answer is the usual: "Sure, why don't you email me all the details, logs and config files and I'll see what I can do <click>" followed by the sound of running in the corridors.

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Re: A Friday afternoon upgrade

>But do they learn?

So this law we passed in a hurry that was only for use against terrorists turns out to give the police power to order an airstrike over an unpaid parking ticket?

Oh dear what a mistake .... we never thought of that ....

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Facepalm

Re: A Friday afternoon upgrade

It's worse than that, they've had since April to draw up the legislation (as that was when the European Court of Justice deemed it illegal), but they've only brought the legislation in now.

Also worth noting that the identity of the bill wasn't announced in any way, even to MPs until today. It was just marked "consideration of a Bill". If that hadn't been picked up on, and questions asked, would the government even have bothered to talk about it before Monday?

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Meh

"Should the rushed legislation be welcomed by us Brits?"

No.

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Re: "Should the rushed legislation be welcomed by us Brits?"

Betteridge's law of headlines

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WTF?

Oi Clegg, You Having A Laugh?

Clegg promised that "civil liberties would be properly considered" under the new law and claimed that Brits will "know more than ever before" about what access the police and spooks have to our online data.

They will do the bare minimum the ECJ requires them to in terms of civil liberties, or less when nobody's looking.

It's also doubtful that Brits seeking to "know more than ever before" will get anything other than the standard "Sorry, we can't discuss that for national security reasons" when querying cops or spooks about their activities.

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Re: Oi Clegg, You Having A Laugh?

Clegg promised that "civil liberties would be properly considered"

'I pledge to vote against any increase in fees'.

'nuff said.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oi Clegg, You Having A Laugh?

> Clegg promised that "civil liberties would be properly considered"

Yes, indeed. Civil liberties don't need to be "properly considered". They need to be at the fucking core of every piece of legislation that is enacted, amended or not repealed.

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Funny ...

We hear nothing concrete about the need to address the ruling when it's made, back in April, when there might have been time for a more considered approach.

And then, all of a sudden, we get two announcements of increases in airport security (first for US flights, then for others to unspecified legislation) and BAM! We really have to rush this security bill through in two days to protect us from terrorists.

Anyone would think they sat on it, until they knew the tension had been ratcheted up enough to make most people roll over and say "well, sure, if it keeps us safe, we'll ram it through in two days"

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Re: Funny ...

You think they have been sitting on their hands since April?

I expect the new law took them 5 minutes, but they waited to sneak it in at the last second so they would not have to deal with people saying this one is just as bad as the old unlawful law. They figure someone will come up with something to distract people by the time they get back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Funny ...

It's interesting. The EU ruling has no more effect on UK legislation than the establishment of a new directive. UK law still has to be changed before it becomes law in the UK. What would have happened is that if someone had complained to the relevant EU court about the existing legislation, the UK government could have been fined. The UK law would still have to have been amended or repealed before the metadata could have been deleted.

If the ISPs had started deleting the metadata, they would have been in breach of the still extant UK legislation. They could have appealed any action in the EU court, but they still would technically have broken the existing UK law. There was no need to pass this emergency legislation, and it should have been properly discussed either earlier in this session of parliament, or at the beginning of the next.

There's some change in there that the government was desperate to enact that's not been spotted yet.

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