Big Brother is alive and well in the UK

Britain is attempting to pass legislation that will allow the government to “track every phone call, email, text message and website visit,” all in the name of national security. While the article claims that the actual content of the communications will not be stored, the next logical step would be to store the data at some point in the future, according to the Telegraph.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the UK is already well known for its ubiquitous use of CCTV cameras. According to a London Evening Standard article written in 2007, Britain has a camera for every 14 citizens and also has 20% of the world’s CCTVs in the country. 

The government’s rationale is that it helps keep people safe, claiming that data collection has played a part in 95% of investigations. It’s also the same logic that is presented for the ever-growing amount of cameras in the country, but according to Bruce Schneier, security cameras do not substantially reduce crime and it can be assumed that the same can be said for electronic communication monitoring.

The article goes on to state that there will be proper controls in place to prevent illicit use and preserve everyone’s freedoms, but there is no way to prevent information from being leaked the same way CCTV footage has been leaked.

Many people oppose this new requirement stating that spying on civilians does not actually improve security, but for every person who opposes these measures there are people who believe that their personal security is improved.

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Similar stuff is going on in the U.S., though I haven't seen it reported as making it's way into approved legislation yet.

IMHO it's all about "Whom or what do you trust -- the least"? Do you trust law enforcement & whatever branches of the gov & their contractors to catch the bad guys as things are now, or do they need more tools, more laws. And if they get those tools, how much do you trust them not to use them in abuse of their authority? [Not If there will be abuses, but how much abuse.]

When someone does something honest, like returning a wallet they found, they can (& often do) make front page news -- no one bothers reporting those that aren't returned, because that's the norm. When you're used to seeing reporting based on leaks at the highest levels of government [which by definition is a breaking of trust], how could you -- why should you blindly trust anyone & everyone in law enforcement, or government, or outside contractors?

Most everyone distrusts those 3 (law enforcement, government, & government contractors), while most people accept abuses of power as something that can't be avoided, either hoping to fly under the radar, escaping notice, or buying safety with funds or through connections. The more you accept the status quo, the more willing you are I think to accept granting the gov more authority... in this case the Pros [possibly greater protection], can outweigh the Cons [perhaps overkill, more power given to agencies that have quite enough already to destroy your life if/when they want to].

Those that tend to accept things as they are might think they're just more practical, more pragmatic than anyone putting principles 1st. However when it comes to pragmatism, I strongly believe cynics have them beat hands down... With more than enough evidence provided by recent history, it's easy to predict that the gov will abuse additional powers [they always have], most bad guys caught due to these [proposed, new] powers will be defended by high powered, *principled* lawyers, & a few too many more-or-less average people, who haven't really done anything all that bad, get nailed alongside whatever other trophies, hang on some politician's wall.

What we need is Fortress Europe and Fortress North America, do not let anybody in from high risk countries, admit the multiculturalism is a failure like Germany just did, enough with the political correctness and we are all going to live just fine! Hate it, love it the world is not mature enough for us to live along! Until then we are all going to live and fear and Big Brother is going to be in effect. Your choice!

Hungarian Salami said,
What we need is Fortress Europe and Fortress North America, do not let anybody in from high risk countries, admit the multiculturalism is a failure like Germany just did, enough with the political correctness and we are all going to live just fine! Hate it, love it the world is not mature enough for us to live along! Until then we are all going to live and fear and Big Brother is going to be in effect. Your choice!
Sure, replace paranoid fear of your own country with paranoid fear of other countries. That makes sense.

perhaps the magna carta has proved inadaquate in modern times and needs to be replaced by a constitution of sorts that gauruntees rights.

seta-san said,
perhaps the magna carta has proved inadaquate in modern times and needs to be replaced by a constitution of sorts that gauruntees rights.
Do you seriously think the UK is still based upon the Magna Carta? That was basically about challenges to the monarch's authority ... almost 800 years ago - it isn't the basis for the country.

Eh. **** happens. What with all these cutbacks. The CCTV might be there, but with no money to buy the tapes, the footage won't be record.

Yay for recession?

People do realise that the CCTV isnt all owned by the Government? Private businesses account for a large proportion of that.

CCTV is good for a number of reasons

1. It allows a crime to be recorded. This helps when people need to prove their innocence. I can use CCTV to show me entering my office building and therefore wasnt somewhere else.

2. Stops police abusing their powers. You should film every encounter with the police but they have also been filmed by CCTV acting unlawfully and this helps keep them in check.

3. If a crime is committed and it is captured on camera is can help speed up the detective work when the Police actually use the footage. There are newer reports saying police ignore CCTV for a lot of smaller crimes.

4. It has been proven to help catch terrorists and we are obviously using it to monitor their movements through the CCTV and vehicle tracking software.

5. Other governments already do this, Patriot act for one. Its also been going on for years, starting in the cold war, monitoring of communications.

At the end of the day its better than having my door kicked in, my personal freedom taken away from me ( custody) and a bunch of other things the police can legally do.

shadowmatt said,
5. Other governments already do this, Patriot act for one. Its also been going on for years, starting in the cold war, monitoring of communications.
This is what I was talking about above. Echelon was supposedly started during the Cold War to monitor Russian communications, but since then it supposedly monitors communications to track terrorist plots, drug trafficking and the like. Although it's not been confirmed, what with Echelon being top-top secret. But still, if this is the case then how is it any different from what's being proposed here?

Indeed, the existence of CCTV doesn't mean its all being watched (and noted) continuously. It just means the option is there when necessary for the examples you give.

When I go out and about I hardly notice any CCTV, and certainly don't feel 'invaded' by it.

Kirkburn said,
When I go out and about I hardly notice any CCTV, and certainly don't feel 'invaded' by it.

Then the campaign has worked with people not even caring that the cameras are there. They are so much a part of our lives that the damage is already done.

ramesees said,

Then the campaign has worked with people not even caring that the cameras are there.
There is valid logic behind the idea, "why should I care if I'm not doing anything wrong?" Oh no, someone is watching me buy milk! Oh no, someone is watching me walk through town to meet a friend!

ramesees said,
Then the campaign has worked with people not even caring that the cameras are there. They are so much a part of our lives that the damage is already done.
What 'campaign'? What 'damage'? Shops have CCTV for good reasons - to combat theft. High streets have CCTV for good reason - to combat attacks. Roads have CCTV for good reason - to monitor traffic and keep an eye out for accidents. I didn't need a campaign to make me realise that, it's just obvious. No-one is tracking me from camera to camera, especially when the owners have nothing to do with one another.

shadowmatt said,
CCTV is good for a number of reasons

Perhaps -- perhaps not, but I'm not so sure it's a good comparison to tracking, monitoring people electronically, at least initially. With CCTV it's in your best interests to get taped, or not -- to be recognizable in recorded video or not -- & everyone should be more than aware of that, along with being aware of the cameras themselves. When you start monitoring people's digital communications &/or foot prints, at 1st you're going to catch innocents, relative innocents, & sloppy bad guys. Soon you start to run out of sloppy bad guys, leaving you with the naive & the uninformed. Unfortunately while results diminish, ego & need for self-promotion among gov officials & politicians don't, & contractors' desire for government money never lessens... some people will get unfairly prosecuted, but not too many or public outrage might upset the applecart so-to-speak.

Just keep sending emails and texts to friends containing the words BOMB, KILL, ASSASSINATE etc to your friends, and watch the fun commence

BeLGaRaTh said,
Just keep sending emails and texts to friends containing the words BOMB, KILL, ASSASSINATE etc to your friends, and watch the fun commence

If you call be hauled off to your local major nic (along with your mates), then being interrogated by all sorts of `agencies` fun then you have a strange idea of fun my friend

Riggers said,

If you call be hauled off to your local major nic (along with your mates), then being interrogated by all sorts of `agencies` fun then you have a strange idea of fun my friend


It would certainly waste a lot of OUR money.

BeLGaRaTh said,
Just keep sending emails and texts to friends containing the words BOMB, KILL, ASSASSINATE etc to your friends, and watch the fun commence

That sort of thing can be quite fun actually, assuming nothing comes of it of course...

When my sis-in-law was going through checks for military intelligence, I had too much fun calling up, waiting to hear the obvious extra clicks, & then asking the most outrageous questions I could think of. In hindsight I'm amazed everyone took the odd questions so well, what with me working in every keyword imaginable. :-)

I'm currently reading Orwells 1984 - and am truely amazed just how many things from that book (started as fiction, becoming fact) are coming true, with minor variations.

Big brother, thought police (hate crimes), state getting involved in every aspect of our lives, we need protecting from the bogey man (made up villain, changes from terrorist, to globul warming etc).

Heres an excerpt that got the hairs on my neck standing on end...

" It was not desirable that the Proles had strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism that could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make accept longer working hours or shorter rations. and even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent could lead nowhere, because being without general ideas, they would only focus it on petty specific grievances. the larger evils invariably escaped their notice. "

thealexweb said,
Are there any promises the Lib Dems won't break?

I've got absolutely no intention of voting for them again. The lib dems are the bitch in this relationship, and they're going back on every reason that I voted for them for.

... That said, god only knows who I'm going to vote for in the next election. I'll Probably go green party.

Then get them into power, don't leave them as a coalition partner again. Since they're currently the minority partner, they are not going to get their own way all the time.

Not voting for them again would likely just make it worse.

thealexweb said,
Are there any promises the Lib Dems won't break?

A better question would be "Will the Lib Dems get any votes at all at the next election?"

As is no doubt the case with these kinds of things, this has probably been happening for a long time anyway without the public knowing about it.

Also the phrase "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" is utterly beyond it now - I laugh at the notion that some people wont even let their friends or family into their email, yet find no problems with nameless, faceless government departments having full access to all they write and talk about!!

This has been on the cards for a long time. Unlikely to happen any time soon as it just doesn't fit in with the drastic budget cuts just announced plus i just can't see this coming in without a fight.

Mike Chipshop said,
Actually... i'm sure they'll find the money for this bullcrap... probably take it off the pensioners heating allowance!

It's what they're saving for already

Intrinsica said,
Out of interest, how is this different than what Echelon/SIGINT supposedly does right now?

Asked & Answered when you say "right now". ;-)
A politician can't get credit for what's already there, so they have to come up with something new, or at least something that sounds new.

OTOH if like the U.S. they start thinking about following in India's footsteps, they'll include demands for back doors for access into otherwise secure networks, e.g. RIM.

Shiranui said,
If I were the British government, I would be more interested in remedying the fact that Great Britain is now crap.

It's not just Great Britain that is crap it also the United States. Civil Liberties seems to have gone out the window in this modern world all in the name of fighting terrorism or whatever. Here in the United States the rule is: something goes wrong, make some law to remedy. Wish the Politicians would read some Thoreau and take to heart this quote..."government is best which governs least."

SK[ said,]I panicked for a minute then, I thought somehow Big Brother the show was back on our screens.

Nope, this is Orwells big brother - the show was just to get us all to accept the term 'big brother' as a benign entity, not to question things much.

Not sure why everyone cares to be honest unless you have something to hide.

Why would a member of government care who I'm calling/texting/emailing unless I'm suspected of some sort of crime? Chances are if you're law abiding that your data will never be looked at by anyone.

My only concern would be the data leaking out to third parties. The HMRC (I think it was them?) losing all that data a while ago was pretty ridiculous.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Not sure why everyone cares to be honest unless you have something to hide.

I know right like we should totally have cameras in our houses n microchips in our necks if we have nothing to hide hey

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Not sure why everyone cares to be honest unless you have something to hide.

Why would a member of government care who I'm calling/texting/emailing unless I'm suspected of some sort of crime? Chances are if you're law abiding that your data will never be looked at by anyone.

My only concern would be the data leaking out to third parties. The HMRC (I think it was them?) losing all that data a while ago was pretty ridiculous.

Government abuses power when they have it. So why allow them this power? What if you text someone that you don't like a particular politician? What's to stop them from putting you through some sort of audit, or investigation just because? They don't NEED this information, and it won't result in anything good.

That's not the point. I have plenty to hide (and none of it illegal). What do I have to hide? None of your business.

If you really have "nothing to hide" then why aren't you posting under your real name?

mrbester said,
If you really have "nothing to hide" then why aren't you posting under your real name?
Because people online can be idiots, not because they're concerned about the government tracking them.

M_Lyons10 said,
Government abuses power when they have it. So why allow them this power? What if you text someone that you don't like a particular politician? What's to stop them from putting you through some sort of audit, or investigation just because? They don't NEED this information, and it won't result in anything good.

Somebody didn't read the article.. It quite clearly states they wouldn't keep a log of the message content, only who it was sent to/who you phoned/etc.

Presumably the Police could access these records when investigating a crime. There would be a definitive log of who contacted who, so let's say that somebody who is the subject of a Restraining/Non-Molestation Order contacts the person who took that order out, they can be arrested for it straight away.

mrbester said,
That's not the point. I have plenty to hide (and none of it illegal). What do I have to hide? None of your business.

If you really have "nothing to hide" then why aren't you posting under your real name?

Your private data will stay private. The Government don't care if you're having an affair, or call sex lines, for example. I doubt they will even be able to access your data unless you are being investigated for some matter. People won't be able to check up on you for no reason..

Why do I use a fake online name? Mainly because I don't want to be the subject of identity theft..although I also don't want every tom, dick and harry knowing who I am.. I don't know who's on the other side of the posts I read on the internet. There was an article in the sun a while ago about how some guy and his girlfriend used to play an online game, and got speaking to this guy who lived in Germany... the guy from Germany developed a crush on the girl, got jealous, flew to the UK and stabbed the girl's boyfriend to death.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Not sure why everyone cares to be honest unless you have something to hide.

Why would a member of government care who I'm calling/texting/emailing unless I'm suspected of some sort of crime? Chances are if you're law abiding that your data will never be looked at by anyone.

My only concern would be the data leaking out to third parties. The HMRC (I think it was them?) losing all that data a while ago was pretty ridiculous.

Personally I have two problems with this. The first you have touched on - the data leaking out which isn't exactly a rare occurance with the way the Government manages data if past history is anything to go by.

The second one is that whilst I take your point about the Government having better things to do, that's only true now.
How do you know what state the country will be in another 50 years? Who will be in power? Will it still be 'democratic' or will some event happen that turns it into a dictatorship. We have no idea what will happen in the future, and as such I don't want that data of mine to be in the hands of ?????? as I don't know if I can trust ?????? in the future.

Remember, Germany was democratic just before WWII. I'm sure Hitler would have loved to of had everyone's communication logged including historical data. Would have made "cleansing" much easier for him.

I have things to hide - just depends who is asking, when they ask and why they want it. And those paramaters change.

I'm happy for this to happen right now in realtime. I may not be in 5 years time. However I can't opt in or out of this when I feel like it as circumstance may have changed.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Why would a member of government care who I'm calling/texting/emailing unless I'm suspected of some sort of crime? Chances are if you're law abiding that your data will never be looked at by anyone.

It's the fact that the data you send is being looked at in the first place. I send a text, my number, the recipient and the message will all be sent (hopefully message will be stripped) but the chance is there for them to read it, and I would be none the wiser.

stevehoot said,

Personally I have two problems with this. The first you have touched on - the data leaking out which isn't exactly a rare occurance with the way the Government manages data if past history is anything to go by.

The second one is that whilst I take your point about the Government having better things to do, that's only true now.
How do you know what state the country will be in another 50 years? Who will be in power? Will it still be 'democratic' or will some event happen that turns it into a dictatorship. We have no idea what will happen in the future, and as such I don't want that data of mine to be in the hands of ?????? as I don't know if I can trust ?????? in the future.

Remember, Germany was democratic just before WWII. I'm sure Hitler would have loved to of had everyone's communication logged including historical data. Would have made "cleansing" much easier for him.

I have things to hide - just depends who is asking, when they ask and why they want it. And those paramaters change.

I'm happy for this to happen right now in realtime. I may not be in 5 years time. However I can't opt in or out of this when I feel like it as circumstance may have changed.

Good point.. although if we're in a dictatorship in 50 years, what's to stop them implementing this then? Nothing...

jbrooksuk said,

It's the fact that the data you send is being looked at in the first place. I send a text, my number, the recipient and the message will all be sent (hopefully message will be stripped) but the chance is there for them to read it, and I would be none the wiser.

Ok first, the article says that the actual content of the message/call will not be recorded, just who made/sent it (you) and who it was to (the recipient).

Secondly, why is any high-flying minister or whoever has access to this data going to look at YOURS of all the people in this country? This is going to be used to catch drug dealers, terrorists, etc. It's not there so they can spy on innocent people. People would get seriously bored looking at my data haha!

Oh god But at first look at the title, I thought you were talking about the T.V. show that ended this year. If they had brought it back I would not have been happy.

Osiris said,
Hi UK, George Orwell called asked if you could stop plagurising his ideas...

The only thing Orwell got wrong was the year.

What is with the British and allowing the government to be such control freaks? Just wondering. (and yes, I know about the Patriot Act here in America, but there seems to be a whole lot more of it in Britain).

Seems like all those books and movies about a totalitarian Britain might come true in the near future.

UK citizens just don't care anymore it seems, we have no backbone and no chance of pulling anything together to fight the powers that be. We will be walked all over to hell and not bat an eyelid unfortunately.

Except for sitting on our couches and complaining that is

Inklin said,
UK citizens just don't care anymore it seems, we have no backbone and no chance of pulling anything together to fight the powers that be. We will be walked all over to hell and not bat an eyelid unfortunately.

Except for sitting on our couches and complaining that is

I do, but i can't vote!

Inklin said,
UK citizens just don't care anymore it seems, we have no backbone and no chance of pulling anything together to fight the powers that be. We will be walked all over to hell and not bat an eyelid unfortunately.

Except for sitting on our couches and complaining that is

I do, but i can't vote!

Inklin said,
UK citizens just don't care anymore it seems, we have no backbone and no chance of pulling anything together to fight the powers that be. We will be walked all over to hell and not bat an eyelid unfortunately.

Except for sitting on our couches and complaining that is

I wish the general UK public would stand up for themselves, I'm more than willing but I don't think one person will make much of an impact, people need to stand up and I would more than join in with a national strike, especially now those cuts have been announced they are once again starting a class war.

Timmah339 said,
I didn't know they had republicans in Britain... ;p

Um... Republicans believe in small, noninvasive government... So you're comment fails...

M_Lyons10 said,

Um... Republicans believe in small, noninvasive government... So you're comment fails...


Non-invasive like the two Patriot Acts? Your comment fails.

*sigh* I suppose it's probably even worse over here in the state, but good grief does everything need to get wrapped in the flag of "national security"?

clindhartsen said,
*sigh* I suppose it's probably even worse over here in the state, but good grief does everything need to get wrapped in the flag of "national security"?

nah they also have terrorism and childp*rn....

I believe this has been planned for a long time, it is certainly not the first we have heard about it, but I thought we would see an end to these utterly stupid things, especially with the "Freedom Bill" which is due shortly here that will undo a lot of things supposedly restoring civil liberties and stuff...

Wasn't to really be expected with the bunch of idiots running our government right now though. They all tell lies to get the votes!

Inklin said,
Wasn't to really be expected with the bunch of idiots running our government right now though. They all tell lies to get the votes!

I think people in most of the countries on Earth would say the same thing about their own government. This planet is in a sorry state.

COKid said,

I think people in most of the countries on Earth would say the same thing about their own government. This planet is in a sorry state.

Yep. It's really sick.