back to article's phone and net snooping hits record high

The expansion in official snooping on communications records has continued with a record number of requests last year for details of who is talking to whom. In the 12 months to 31 December, authorities made 525,130 requests to phone companies and inernet providers for communications data, the Interception Commissioner Sir Paul …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    he "cannot give a precise reason", but

    "including paedophile rings", eh? Smells like a spot of misdirection to me.

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  3. johnB
    Black Helicopters

    And what was the return ?

    Pity we're not informed as to how many of these intercepts resulted in successful prosecutions. I'd hazard a guess that the answer is "not many", because if they had been successful, the results would be trumpeted from the rooftops.

    The suspicion is that it's just prurient, ineffective snooping, achieving very little other than wasting police, etc., time

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      my thoughts

      My thoughts exactly, why even mention that? oooo so nobody questions that we're spied on more then Soviet Russia (I may be exageratting a tad with that)

      The more interesting would be for half a million requests how many convictions did they get and how many of these paedophile rings did they break and how many requests were required per ring.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I'll convert it into Tabliod language.

        Sun: 504,073 pedo's in UK. Becky, 18, sporting khaki hotpants in tribute to our brave troops, says "it's disgusting, they should all be hung"

        Mail: 504,073 Pedo Immigrants caught by Police swoop. Dave from Nottingham say "Bloody foreigners taking ourjobs and being pedos as well is disgraceful"

        Express: 504,073 found to be covering up death of Princess Diana. Some may be Peados

        Guardan: 504,073 podeos capurtd in piloce swope

        Star: Phew, what a scorcher.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Paedophile Rings, eh?

      Have there ever been any confirmed examples of the so-called 'paedophile ring'? We hear about dawn raids and arrests, etc. but do these ever end up as prosecutions?

      It strikes me as exceedingly unlikely that such an entity would form in the first place. I would imagine that the incidence of paedophilia in the population is vanishingly small, and it's not exactly the sort of thing a perpetrator would advertise, so I cannot see a way in which even two paedophiles could meet and form a group, without running the risk making themselves known to the general public.

      Instead, the concept of the 'Paedophile Ring' would appear to be a construct that is touted as a way of diverting our attention from measures which are designed to restrict the freedoms of the general public, with the implication that "if you don't agree with our new law, you must sympathise with paedos, which is the same thing as being one, BURN THE PAEDO!!11eleventyone!"

      For other historical examples of similar concepts, see McCarthyism, the Stasi, or the Salem witch trials.

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        Arghh! PAEDO-GEDDON IS HERE!!!!

        A term devised and utilised by those wishing to stir up the masses into mass-hysteria.

        Sounds far more sinister and menacing to say "Paedophile Ring" than a "a couple of kiddie-fiddlers". P.R. sounds like this sinister underground movement of hundreds, maybe thousands lurking in the darkest recesses of the internet. They could be in the local supermarket, next to you on the bus or even getting a drink next to you down at your local....hmmmm!

      2. Chris Parsons

        Spot on!

        At least it allows the usual suspects to bellow, righteously:


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who gives them the right to snoop?

    I don't authorise any "body" to hold or use data about my transactions.

    Why is it someone else's decision and not my own?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now it will be interesting to see the figures for this calendar year and the next. The Condems have spent a long time telling us the last government were too intrusive. Let's all reconvene in twelve months time to see if this figure drops. And in another twelve months (if they're still in power) if the government are as good as their word it should have dropped still further.

    We can live in hope.

  6. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Not intercepts

    I say this every time this report comes out. These are not intercepts, they're data requests.

    If the 999 operator gets a call that suddenly goes quiet before they've got an address you'll get a hit here, because someone has to go and find out if the call was a genuine emergency.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      In the situation you describe

      I seriously doubt whether a data request is made by a 999 operator for the source of a call. What with the emergency nature of 999 calls and the amount of red-tape that is undoubtedly required for such requests. More likely they use caller ID. The critical difference here being between 'who is calling me?' and 'A is calling B, who are A and B?'

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge


        Last time I checked, caller ID didn't give an address.

        The red-tape you mention is about 5 keystrokes - flash call log to control rooms Inspector - and a quick note. That's why RIPA allows an Inspector to authorise.

        Don't underestimate the number of calls a 999 operator will get from people who aren't thinking clearly. If my experience is typical, I reckon at least 80% will fit this category.

        I suspect the next biggest is a scan of the local drug dealer's confiscated mobile phones.

        You need to look a long way beyond the headline figure to get to anything controversial.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Which only goes to reinforce the point of, why did the man feel compelled to say "some of which connected to peadophile rings" which I feel is the controversial point.

          Instead of honesty (most of these are for 999 cools and drug dealers) they go "WERE CATCHING PEADOS!" And everyone goes, boy, that's a lot of peados.

          Alternate agenda maybe? Building the ground work for new laws for CEOP?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not much paperwork

        I have worked on contracts for IT in areas that involved police requests, they need very little red tape to get the emergency information they need to potentially save a life or prevent a nasty situation. There may well be folders of follow-up paperwork, but the initial requests need very little.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I know this is a bit crazy but hear me out.

      We used to have telephone system integration with our crm so when a call came in you saw the address and company details pop up.

      Why don't 999 operators have a similar thing, I'm sure it would be rather convinent (a list of numbers connected to addresses) sure not much help with mobile phones but for land lines rather handy.

      Actually I'm suprised that they don't have this already and instead need to go to another service to get the data, it's a pretty obvious tool to have, and I doubt very hard to have and maintain.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Sensational Soaraway Sum

    Half a million requests made by the police, most it would seem concerning 'paedophile rings' (a somewhat quaint term, given the currently beleaguered and much-diminished state of online CP according to Ceop).

    Still, if we indulge the nice policeman for just one moment and take that figure at face value it's a truly staggering sum. It should be emblazoned across the front of every gutter-loving tabloid tomorrow morning. Half a million UK paedomonsters - and those are just the ones the rozzers claim to know about!

    So why isn't it?

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    These days I don't think its safe to even mention the word beginning with the letter before 'q' without the risk of being put on some covert observation list.

  9. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Dead Vulture

    Not impressed

    I was expecting a better, and more nuanced, report on this from El Reg.

    Without a better breakdown, these figures are completely useless to us. How many are simply police asking for basic info like subscriber name for Pay as you Go phones found in crime cases, and how many are asking for specific data on what I searched Google for last Wednesday?

    To just give the bald figures is completely meaningless, unless we know what areas the growth is in. I would guess that criminals are using more technology (along with the rest of us). And I would expect the police to be investigating criminals. Therefore I would expect the number of requests for this kind of info to continue to grow. I'm also sure that there are people working for the sate who like to get their hands on as much data as they can get away with. We need a bit of analysis, if that's possible.

    Tinfoil hats should remain in their current positions, until further information becomes available.

    1. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Not impressed

      Seems to me your issue is with the interception commissioner, not the Reg.

      I would very much like to be able to report those kinds of breakdowns, but as referenced in the article, Sir Paul doesn't see the point of publishing them.

      So the analysis you're asking for isn't possible.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Selective law enforcing

    "In the 12 months to 31 December, authorities made 525,130 requests to phone companies and inernet providers for communications data"

    And how many "unofficial requests"? Most, if not all, phone companies give any data to anybody (who calls himself "authority") asking without formal requests. Them (and authorities asking) being criminals don't seem to bother police force at all. Nor prosecutors. After all, they are paid by same government, why would they worry about laws? Those don't apply to authorities at all.

    Selective law enforcing is the motto of the modern police in all EU-countries. That of course means police state: When police makes crimes, nothing happens but if you make a crime, you get harsh penalty.

    Also the general attitude in the police force: "The law is what I say it to be" and management does nothing because _they think excatly like that too_, but are too wise to say it loud. They can, and they will, strengthen that attitude by doing nothing. That suits them very well.

    Commit a crime, get a reward and no punishment -> more crimes. Inevitable. To most people police force is worse criminal than so called criminals, already.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Blimey, they missed one

    "The interception of the content of communications is legally separated and requires a warrant from the Home Secretary or Scottish government."

    How on earth did that little tenet of personal freedom and liberty slip through the net of the past 13 years stasi misgovernment

  12. Graham Marsden

    "I cannot give a precise reason for this..."

    "but there is evidence that more and more police forces have to engage in fishing expeditions on anyone they like in the hope that they might be able to link them to an actual crime."

    There, fixed it for you.

    Of course he could have just said "I cannot give a precise reason for this, but THINK OF THE CHILDREN, OMG!!!!1111oneoneeleventyone!!"

  13. asiaseen

    To give some idea of the scale

    that's one data request every minute of every day of the year.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      How much effort to process?

      That's a good metric - I was just working out how many per day when I read your post. (It's 1440 per day if spread out over the 365 days - or about 2190 per day if you assume 240 working days in the year. The real figure will be somewhere in between.)

      Presumably the bigger telcos and ISPs have full-time staff to deal specifically with these requests? Or at least know how much staff time they spend on dealing with them.

      Anyone know how many staff / how much time?

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Blimey, they missed one

    So in order for the government to spy on you - they just need the approval of the guy in government in charge of spying on you!

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    What does the "Interception Commissoner" actually *do*

    Other than publish virtually meaningless annual reports reporting a level of detail you could get off a one page spreadsheet.

    Either *admit* you have a surveillance state and the government had *no* interest in regulating it in any way shape or form


    Get them to actually *do* something.

    The present system seems to be consist of "Here are the *outline* numbers. They did stuff. It's a bit more than last year, but I don't know why, probably something to do with catching paedo's, so nothing to worry about there."

  16. ElFatbob

    one wonders...

    if there is going to be a link between these types of requests and the IBM crime predicting software i read about the other day (minority report meets blind faith)....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    considering that the british mod were intercepting calls faxes in ireland as a matter of course at facilities like the electronic test facility at british nuclear fuels limited site at capenhurst, cheshire in the 80s and 90s i find it amusing that now they are having trouble intercepting calls in the uk itself.

    these days assume you have no privacy and act accordingly.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps due to "new" police policy

    I remember reading some official police guidance recently that said that phones and computers should now be seized after almost any arrest, as they can be an useful source of evidence (not necessarily of the crime arrested for).

    I'm pretty sure in any country where civil rights meant anything, this would be unlawful but here there's so little control over them they're quite happy to announce that official policy is to go on fishing expeditions. I presume they no longer have to get warrants for these sort of search and seizures anymore, or maybe judges just hand them out like toffee now.

    Anyway, it's hardly surprising that demands for data are exploding if the cops are getting their grubby little hands on so many more phones/computers.

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