back to article Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data

British cops are abusing the right to snoop on communications data by holding information on innocent people for far too long, a report from the Commissioner for Interception has found. Sir Anthony May, the commissioner, wanted to counteract the "general relatively uninformed fear" that shadowy government agencies were …

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  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Well that's all right then.

    I don't think this guy's ever looked like anything but a rubber stamp for RIPA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Well that's all right then.

      To be fair, he's only continuing the tradition of the government that introduced it.

  2. Dr U Mour

    Good boy, now fetch....

    "that none of the interception agencies which I inspect has the slightest interest in examining their emails, their phone or postal communications or their use of the internet, and they do not do so to any extent which could reasonably be regarded as significant"

    Either they really do not have the "slightest interest in examining their emails" or "they do not do so"...

    Given that the Snowden revelations are currently uncontested and widley known, is Sir Anthony Mays a fool or a liar, or a fool and a liar?

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: Good boy, now fetch....

      "Given that the Snowden revelations are currently uncontested and widley known, is Sir Anthony Mays a fool or a liar, or a fool and a liar?"

      You might think that in trying to answer that question, there's a clue in his title. But I couldn't possibly comment. <Cough> The Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony May.

      As to our glorious dolphin leader, you can almost see the string moving every time his mouth opens...

    2. Graham Marsden
      Big Brother

      Re: Good boy, now fetch....

      "any extent which could reasonably be regarded as significant"

      If they are looking at *anyone's* e-mails or phone communications or whatever for *ANY* other reason other than legally approved and justified surveillance of individuals who may be a threat to the security of this country and the safety of its people then that is BLOODY SIGNIFICANT!

      So don't pat us on the head and say "don't you worry your little selves about it" and expect us to say "oh, well that's alright then" because we are not going to believe you!

      GCHQ are colluding with the NSA in a massive dragnet fishing expedition, trawling through anything and everything they can get their hands on, whether it's justified or not.

      Until that is changed, our rights and liberties are being wilfully infriged.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good boy, now fetch....

        Part of the great British tradition of wheeling out someone no one in the real world has ever heard of (adds a bit of gravitas) and handing them a dodgy brief to validate your lie against some particularly iffy premise that certainly wouldn't pass the "fair enough" test down at the Black Pudding & Whippet.

        If your party donors in the drilling game are going to be digging up back gardens to extract oil, grab a scientist with no connection to geology or wildlife to say it won't poison the water or harm cute red squirrels; if a minister's been milking the taxpayer for a nice gaff in Wimbledon, take it away from someone with a clue and no vested interest and launder it through a bunch of backbenchers doing much the same thing. In this case adding a 'Sir' is presumably supposed to blind us a little further to the fact that just about any shenanigans are perfectly legal under the appallingly written RIPA, and indeed prove that they're all very trustworthy.

        I really couldn't give a shit what Cameron's take on proportionality is, or whether its a machine scanning my email headers or a GCHQ saddo getting off on reading the text for indications I don't love the monarchy; like most reasonable people in the UK I find it stifling, invasive and ultimately dangerous. The fact its the product of the same clueless delberts who thought planting a Muslim area in Birmingham knee deep with CCTV was quite OK hardly puts minds at rest.

        "Legal" never has, and never will equate to "right".

  3. browntomatoes

    Simply parroting what he's been told by the heads of the agencies

    How do we actually know he (or the other oversight authorities such as the Intelligence and Security Committee, another rubber stamp) is even being told about everything they do? Why wouldn't they simply cover up what they do without lawful authority and only report what they did have authority for (along with a handful of 'blunders' to make it look like they aren't fabricating it)? It's not like these agencies don't have a history of applying the "shoot first, ask question later" mentality (police included, remember Jean Charles de Menezes?) after all...

    I find it amazing that he seems to think (for he has not indicated to the contrary) he is adequately resourced to do the job he has been given in the first place when that is plainly untrue.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Simply parroting what he's been told by the heads of the agencies

      Welcome to government oversight!

      The only time they're likely to find anything wrong, is if it was due to a policy introduced by a previous government, and the polls are looking a bit tight.

      From this we can see that His Dave-ness isn't anticipating any problems from the proles at the next election.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply parroting what he's been told by the heads of the agencies

      I find it amazing that he seems to think (for he has not indicated to the contrary) he is adequately resourced to do the job he has been given in the first place when that is plainly untrue.

      Not entirely, as per article:

      Sir Anthony May, the commissioner, wanted to counteract the "general relatively uninformed fear" that shadowy government agencies were snooping into the private lives of individuals

      .. but ..

      in his annual report (PDF), he confessed that cops, spooks and bureaucrats were gathering information on an industrial scale under powers granted by Section 57(1) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

      Or, in other words, those fears were actually rather accurate (and reflect with a degree of precision the concerns voiced when RIPA was originally put together from various bits of other legislation).

      I'm happy that this is at least on the table, but it only pays a little bit of attention to another issue that follows from this: what happens to the data so acquired? It's not just keeping it for longer than required, but when such an intercept is in progress, who gets access to this, and how is that information protected? Otherwise, even a formal wipe of information will only address the issue with the actual intercept team, but not the possible copies of that data sent elsewhere...

  4. RonWheeler

    RIPA 2000 Part I

    'The interception agencies do not engage in indiscriminate random mass intrusion by misusing their powers under RIPA 2000 Part I.'

    What do they do it under then?

    1. xerocred

      Re: RIPA 2000 Part I

      Except for hoovering up yahoo webcam pics of kids in their bedrooms.

  5. nsld
    Black Helicopters

    potential

    So as long as they continue to believe that we are all potential terrorists they can slurp freely.

    Trebles all round at the club.

  6. i like crisps
    Black Helicopters

    As far as i can tell...

    ...there seems to be only one law for the security sevices: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

    It seems to be working quite effectively.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: As far as i can tell...

      Nope - it's 'Don't Ask, Won't Tell"

  7. Zack Mollusc

    Misleading headline

    Innocents' data is not retained. Any evidence which would show a defendant's innocence will be deleted/shredded/altered/mislaid.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Misleading headline

      Sorry - had to read that a second time, very good (as news of yet more people are released from long jail sentences - this time in the US, because the prosecution couldn't remember what evidence they had)

  8. spodula

    "I am quite clear that any member of the public who does not associate with potential terrorists or serious criminals or individuals who are potentially involved in actions which could raise national security issues for the UK can be assured that none of the interception agencies which I inspect has the slightest interest in examining their emails, their phone or postal communications or their use of the internet, and they do not do so to any extent which could reasonably be regarded as significant," he wrote."

    So, no reassurance at all then.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Terrorists, criminals, national security

      All defined by - wait for it - the government.

      So on no accounts associate with anyone who plans to read out the names of the war dead in public.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      To be honest, I have no way of knowing whether I "associate with potential terrorists or serious criminals or individuals who are potentially involved in actions which could raise national security issues for the UK". Does the bloke in the corner shop run a terrorist cell? Does the person I speak to occasionally on the bus run an illegal Bitcoin miner? Are any of my students growing industrial quantities of pot? Are my neighbours involved in unapproved sexual activities? I don't know (and the same applies to anyone reading this about their acquaintances). Yet it is alright, in the mind of this toothless watchdog, for there is guilt by association.

      Justice, they've heard of it.

  9. g dot assasin

    "and they do not do so to any extent which could reasonably be regarded as significant"

    Wish these politicians would fuck off with their double speak!

    Either they do or they don't?

    1. Gav

      Is there a problem with that?

      It's quite simple. If you don't agree on the extent of the interception, you are not being reasonable*, and your regard of what is significant* is irrelevant.

      * We decide what is reasonable and what is significant.

  10. Squander Two

    The loophole

    > The interception agencies do not engage in indiscriminate random mass intrusion by misusing their powers under RIPA 2000 Part I. It would be comprehensively unlawful if they did.

    Yes, indeed it would. However, if the NSA gathered that same data, it would then be completely legal for GCHQ to receive a copy from them. Which is in fact what has been happening.

  11. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    Who, amongst us, can resist the temptation to ...

    store old data, or old software?

    Same with Plod, or GCHQ, they have empty drives and simply want to fill it up. And they, like us, keep it 'in case'.

    I found an ex-wife's Social Insurance number on an old drive recently - and when applied to a pension equalisation application for the period of our marriage resulted in a few tens of thousands of dollars flowing to my benefit.

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