back to article Web snooping bill an 'odious shopping list of new gov powers'

Tory backbencher David Davis has described the government's draft communications surveillance law as an "odious shopping list" of new powers demanded by the Home Office. He told MPs and peers at a joint select committee hearing on Wednesday afternoon that UK spooks were "looking for a pin" but instead "creating a field of …


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  1. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done Mr Davis

    Hopefully you can find more like you to kill the bill.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The idea of a black box organised at a central level has not actually yet been done in a democratic country,"

    Since when has britain ever been demoractic? Your kidding.

    Civil servants rule (no matter which coulour is leading), and the British are too dim to understand/care.

    I'm astounded that a tory minister is standing up for what is right! It's a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Tory party.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Obviously!


      How can you be so sure he doesn't have some vested interest? perhaps a board membership for a company with a differing system wanting preferred access to contracts?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: Obviously!

        True, very true. It is the torys we are talking about alfter all.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: re: Obviously!, Obviously!

          Well shows how much you know.

          David Davis is well know for libertarian attitudes and being more traditionally Conservative.

          He is a big believer in privacy and against the big brother society.

          I still think the wrong David won the selectrion process those years ago

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: Obviously!, Obviously!

            And I stand by what I had said MJI, "I'm astounded that a tory minister is standing up for what is right! It's a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Tory party." (Notice, Chris, that i'm not name calling anyone!)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "David Davis is well know..."


            * well-KNOWN

            It might also be valuable for many to learn that there is probably spelling checker functionality built into your browser.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: "David Davis is well know..."

              know passes spelling checker

              know is known with the n not typed - we all do it!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              ...for your invaluable and fascinating input :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      United KINGDOM

      The clue is in the name, now get back to work serfs, or we'll set the dogs on you and burn your hovels! :)

      1. despairing citizen

        Re: United KINGDOM

        The clue is not in the name;

        Practically every single liberty UK subjects enjoy, was created by unelected monarchs and lords (e.g. Trial by Jury)

        Practically every single liberty that has been taken away, or attempted to be stolen, has been via the House of Commons. (e.g. scrapping of double jeopardy by previous goverment)

        I would also remind you that England'ss one and only military dictator was an MP (Cromwell), whoose rule was so appalling that the King was invited back, as a better alternative to the tyrany Cromwell inflicted.

        1. crowley
          Thumb Down

          Re: United KINGDOM

          Practically every liberty was extracted forcibly by the barons or middle/merchant classes from the unelected monarchs, because they were autocratic bastards. That the liberties were gained for all was probably an accident or a necessary default for the sake of expediency.

          That those classes then tried to put those liberties back in the box, as far as the plebs were concerned, is a predictable outcome of the initial exuberance, as they might see it.

          For all it's faults, I think I prefer the possibilities of the current subdued but inclusive class war to the few accidental scraps of benefit that fall out from a theological dictatorship conflicting with croneys, thanks.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: United KINGDOM

          Every single monarch without exception before the Glorious Revolution was a military dictator. Cromwell was a scrupulously honest man and a democrat. Installing his idiot son as a successor was a mistake, but not one he had any part of, being dead at the time.

        3. Sirius Lee

          Re: United KINGDOM


          You need to do more history revision. And maybe be a little more optimistic. Remember that at the time Britain only had a history of family succession of military coup. Britain's elite at the time put up Cromwell's son then invited a Stuart back because there was no tradition of doing anything else. Electing someone? What? Never heard of that one, it'll never work. It took the successes of the libertarian and mercantile classes the next 200 years to gradually wrest control from monarchs and deliver the constitutional monarchy system of government we have today. Plus, democracy is the worst kind of government except for every other form.

    3. Eponymous Cowherd

      Liberal Tories

      "I'm astounded that a tory minister is standing up for what is right!"

      This is far more likely than a Labour MP doing so. Though party distinctions have blurred, Conservatism has traditionally been about being given the freedom to stand on your own two feet, while Labour is all about "Big Government" and the welfare state.

      Having said that, Cameron's "Conservatives" have shown themselves to be more like New Labour in their control freakery.

  3. TechnicianJack
    Big Brother

    Guilty until proven innocent?

    Sounds like it's time to get the old packet radio network going again.

  4. Mickey Finn
    Big Brother

    Quote: "collection of data by ISPs through Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) probes - colloquially dubbed black boxes - had only been implemented on a national scale in China, Iran and Kazakhstan."

    I guess our politicians seek out their own kind...

    Being prejudiced is a perfectly normal human trait after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Being prejudiced is a perfectly normal human trait after all."

      Don't agree.

      Live and let live, I've no prejudices. These are a learnt/taught concept usually picked up from the parents/peers.

      1. Chris Miller

        "I've no prejudices"

        Says the person who has just condemned all Tories (sp) as bastards. Self-awareness isn't your strong suit, is it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I've no prejudices"

          "Says the person who has just condemned all Tories (sp) as bastards. Self-awareness isn't your strong suit, is it?"

          Prejudice and political views, I can't reconcile your argument.

          Having a political view is hardly prejudice.

          Sorry, your thinking needs adjustment. Maybe your parents/peers have skewed your views?

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: "I've no prejudices"

            'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

            I'm not sure you've quite grasped the concept of 'thinking' either.

      2. Alfred

        "Normal" doesn't mean "known without being taught"

        Normal just means within a reasonable average set. If everyone has a prejudice, then having a prejudice is normal.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No prejudices, really?

        Haha... what, not even towards, say, Paedophiles, for example? I'll bet my bottom dollar....

      4. Mickey Finn

        On prejudice...

        Not liking (or liking) cheese is a prejudice, though I would agree that the young learn things from their parents...

        ...Mind you, they usually do the opposite!

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Big Brother

    sometimes, people dont realise ...

    Pickles also warned that, under the proposed law, protesters outside Parliament might, for example, be more easily rounded up and identified by police who could access the comms data sent between individuals in that area.

    I rather think this is the whole point - not some unintended side effect.

    1. Magister
      Big Brother

      Re: sometimes, people dont realise ...

      So you are walking across Parliament Square on your way to work and you see the half dozen protestors, one of whom is female and wearing a silly t-shirt with a clever slogan. You take a picture on your mobile to send to the guys at work (nothing to do with the size of her breasts, honest). Next day, you get a vist from the boys in blue.

      You were there, you took a picture; now explain why! Innocent until proven guilty? Don't think so sir; not in the democratic people's republic of Airstrip 1!

      This is just yet a further extension of the attempts to do away with our civil liberties. If we allow it to happen, we deserve everything that happens to us.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The political maverick is not dead

    Glad to see a backbencher sticking it to their own party, I thought the last of these had disappeared with Tony Benn, Alan Clark and co with them eventually being replaced by Blair's robots.

    Go D.D.

    1. tremtastic
      Thumb Up

      Re: The political maverick is not dead

      You should read Douglas Carswell's blog if you want to see an MP sticking it to their own party...

  7. Scott 19
    Big Brother

    It'll be law

    with the added bonus you'll get to pay for it.

    The political class couldn't careless you have your choice, pay income tax till you drop dead or sign on and become an alcoholic/obese and die early, just remember to drop your blue or red token in the box marked democracy and we'll do the rest for you.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    let's go for it

    "The idea of a black box organised at a central level has not actually yet been done in a democratic country," he added."

    we can't be No 1 at anything else, from education to broadband speed, at least we got a chance now to be a No 1 snooping democracy. After all, what's that little black box and profiled intelligence, compared with, say, daily bombings and shootings which we face otherwise?

    "The notion of British taxpayers paying private companies to hoard communications data on behalf of the UK government was unpalatable, he added."

    just lie down and think of Britain. And the children. And the children's children.

    1. PT
      Big Brother

      Re: let's go for it

      There are at least two, maybe three, companies that make a good living selling DPI equipment for exactly this purpose, and their best customers include central government agencies in English-speaking countries most of us would consider democratic. If Mr Hosein is correct, I imagine the gear was just purchased to use up surplus departmental budget money at the end of the financial year, and the telcos use the waste heat from the secret rooms to keep their offices warm.

  9. Nigel 11

    How long

    How long before the black boxes get pwned, and all our data becomes available to precisely the people we don't want to have it? (Don't want to have it even more than we don't want the government to have it, that is).

    I voted against Labour last time to kill ID cards. Who do I vote for next time? What's UKIP's policy on spying on the populace?

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: How long

      No party is deeply attached to the idea. Write to your MP and express your views (nicely !) :

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: How long

        My MP wrote back - seems somewhere in the middle and he is a bit of a rebel.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How long

        I have. Twice.

        The first reply told me to think of the children and the terrorists and how important it was to be able to see who's communicating with who over IM and VOIP services!

        I am still awaiting a reply to the second asking how they will be able to record endpoints in proprietary and secure IM/VOIP services. It now appears they expect Google/Facebook/MS to provide that data for them! HA (hopefully)!

        This is such an almighty waste of money! Glorious leaders, please listen to Tim Berners-Lee who is utterly against this..

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Move to Haltemprice and Howden

      And vote for DD

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: How long

      There's also:

      Which will let you email your MP directly. I recommend doing this every once in a while just so they don't forget who they're supposed to be representing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Write to them?

        The problem is that communicating with anyone in officialdom is likely to get you on some sort of watch list. Who can say what the powers that (will) be can use that information for in the future?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How long

        I'd write to my MP but unfortunately my MP now happens to be David bastard bastard bastard Blunkett and let us be honest I don't think writing to him is going to be of any sodding use at all given his previous form.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least the police will be able to see if politicians are talking about them, would that be a police state in some way?

    I guess there'll be some kind of slip somewhere and some newspaper will somehow discover that some politicianorother has been talking to some mediatycoonorother (while some admin somewhere trips off to Barclays with enough money to embarrass Bob Diamond

    oh no, that'll never happen

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And the data will always be 100% true and never tampered with by anyone, a black box can't lie

      Obviously the only validity in a black box is that it's always going to tell the trutth otherwise it wouldn't be worth having

      We all know nothing weird ever appears in any kind of log files ... ever

    2. Caltharian
      Big Brother

      Of course not

      They will ensure that their communications are exempt from interception, this law will only apply to the unwashed masses

  11. David Pollard

    Is this camouflage and diversion?

    Data storage by ISPs is for the benefit of relatively low level snoopers such as local councils and plod. It takes some of the cost of surveillance off the government. It also leaves the heavy duty spooks clear from the overhead of intrusions in which such gauleiters indulge. And it diverts public attention from the deeper monitoring of the internet which goes largely unnoticed and unquestioned.

    There have apparently been fibre splitters in exchanges for some while now. See, for example, the diagram in the article by Chris Williams in 2008 and the comment by mikus.

    ... or maybe it's the thin end of another wedge.

  12. Jeebus

    David Davis consistently votes against bills and articles violating the right to privacy. One of the very, very few people willing to stand up for personal dignity [in this respect].

    We're not all guilty, and hiding these bills behind the OMGPAEDOS defence is starting to wear thin. They are nothing to do with that, and everything to do with controlling a medium they're afraid of.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paging Mr. Orlowski

    Cue Orlowski in all of five minutes telling us that piracy causes terrorism and these measures don't go anywhere near far enough, and are a slap in the face to the content industries and rightsholders...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm getting out of here as soon as I can.

    NZ or Canada are looking increasingly attractive.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Britain

      I'm starting to think that you'll need to find somewhere small, less developed, more chaotic. The Cape Verde islands, maybe? Costa Rica? Iceland? The Swiss have a good attitude but a lousy location. The bigger and more centralized the state, the worse the techno-surveillance will be, and the worse things will be when the trap closes.

  15. John H Woods


    Let's say we discovered (Hogwarts Style) magic; there would be no limit whatsoever to the amount of surveillance you could do. Where would our politicians draw the line?

    This is the question that should be asked of every Home Sec, prime or cabinet minister: If it were possible to intrude entirely into the lives of every citizen, how much do you think is appropriate?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Hypothetical...

      The question that politicians must ask themselves, is whether they are really happy to have the legislation and the infrastructure passed down to the worst possible successor government they can imagine.

      A lesson from history. At the time of German Unification (under Bismark - 1890s) everyone happily traipsed off to fill in a simple form to claim their citizenship of the new German state. Bismark also created the most efficient beurocracy that the world had ever known.Those records were well-preserved, well-copied, well-indexed. Roll forwards 45 years. The parents may already have passed on, but the single word "Jewish" under "religion" sealed the fate of their children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

      Do you *still* want the entire map of everyone you, your parents and your children ever communicated with to available to *all* future governments?

  16. Triggerfish

    Mixed message

    So we need all these powers on the web to watch us and monitor for our own safety?

    Because we need to fear the terrorist and the like.

    If they are such a credible threat, what cock ordered group 4 security to protect us during the olympics then?

    I mean either the snooping laws reasons are massively over exxagerated for some nefarioous reason, or there's going to be a massacre at the velodrome.

  17. Jim 59

    Ministry of Love

    This proposal is straight out of the darkest pages of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is the kind of thing many of our ancestors died to prevent. The function of this black box is very similar to the kind of work performed manually by the character Winston Smith. Appalling. Shame on the Tories, who condemned the proposal while in opposition, only to be come its biggest fans once in power.

    Whoever is in government just can't resist spying on every aspect of citizens' lives. The UK should be ashamed.

  18. despairing citizen
    Big Brother

    Cunning Clue

    The cunning clue that the proposed powers are wanted for something other than the stated purpose, is that every week the "reason" changes, starts as "needed to combat terrorism", and then mutates is way through the 4 horsemen of the computer appocolypse.

    It just like watching a child who wants something, "I need it to do my school" work, when actual what they want it for is to play games, and every time you ask, the stated reason mutates.

    The only thing is that the children are usually more creative and inteligent in their creation of excuses than the ministerial dummies front this.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone posted this on another site

    Mrs Jones wants to organise a surprise anniversary party for Mr. Jones.

    She calls a friend - Ms. Smith, who recommends an "ethnic" restaurant she knows of.

    Mrs Jones calls Mr. X. Unfortunately, Mr X is fully booked for the day, but he suggests a friends retaurant, and offers to get them to call Mrs. Jones.

    Mr. X shares the same surname as someone wanted for "terrorism". All of a sudden the snoopers leap into action. It is confirmed that Mr X. is dodgy, when it is revealed Ms. Smith was once arrested at a demonstration.

    Mr. X calls Mr. Y.

    Mr. Y calls Mrs Jones, and is delighted to book a table and asks how many guests.

    Mrs Jones now calls round all her friends. At this point MI5 are besides themselves with excitement. Clearly there is a REALLY big atrocity being carried out.

    After calling all her friends (whose names are added to the watchlist, so THEIR calls/emails/texts are watched) Mrs Jones calls Mr. Y and says it will be 20 guests. One of whom is a Mr. Brown, who MI5 now discover has been very critical of government policy on his Facebook page, and has "friended" people in other countries who are critical of *their* govenments. MI5 now believe they have stumbled on a major terrorist cell.

    Mr. Y is glad to have some business, and calls his nephews, both of whom are friendly with Mr. X's sons. He asks the nephews if they can work on the day of the party.

    MI5 now tap the phones, of everyone, and start to hear chatter about "the party". They're starting to draw up a plan to swoop.

    1. Mike Flex

      Re: Someone posted this on another site

      > Mrs Jones calls Mr. X.

      Yes, of course this is a problem. Because the newspapers are full of stories of indignant dinner party hostesses who have had their evenings interrupted by MI5 raids.

      Are you sure you didn't read about this on uk.misc?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget

        we are talking about a country where the combined incomptence of MI5, Special Branch, and SO18 resulted in an innocent man having his head removed with dum dum bullets.

        In the light of that, there is no story you could invent, that I would regard as too far-fetched.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          To my witless downvoter

          in the light of todays news that there were 1,000 *reported* blunders in subject requests last year - two of which led to innocent people being arrested - maybe you want to reconsider ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you'd be so right

        if you weren't wrong.

        Witness todays news about cock-ups in snoop requests - and that's with the *present* system. Imagine how many more innocent people will be arrested when there's more data to get confused about.

  20. Alan Esworthy
    Big Brother

    time for one of my favorite quotations

    "Government as our servant is just about tolerable. Government as our our enemy." - Richard North

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drawing the right conclusions

    Years ago I used to run a website on cheap shared hosting also using the email etc that came with it. Out of curiosity, I had a look to see what else shared the same IP. Bad choice if you happen to have a paranoid streak as about half of the sites turned out to cover the entire Islamist spectrum of just about every 'cause' going at a time when state paranoia was way worse than my own.

    You could hope 'the watchers' would draw the right conclusions from the way these things work, but personally I'm just not that trusting given their track record, mission creep and itchy trigger fingers.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually I think is as much about maintaining the US's capabilities as the UK's (don't forget Menwith Hill is believed to be involved in interception as well).

  23. Richard Austin 1

    and one of my favourite quotes, especially relevant here

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    Benjamin franklin

  24. John A Blackley

    For the effect of this

    I recommend reading a novel called The Bell Ringers.

    Looks like it's about to become non-fiction.

  25. Ascylto
    Big Brother



    I,too, voted against Labour because of ID Cards.

    I shall hurt the Toreens in the only way I have (so far) in the Ballot Box if this stupid Bill is approved.

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