Surveillance

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Hi All,

Pretty far off topic, but given its very limited press attention, it seems worth posting and you can decide whether it is worth your time.

UK Gov passed a law last week giving everyone with any tenuous link to the government access to a database with 1 year of every UK citizen's internet usage history (except MP's history of course, they're exempt).

For the full list of people with access see here;

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/investigatory-powers-bill-act-snoopers-charter-browsing-history-what-does-it-mean-a7436251.html

Highlights include the Food Standards Agency, Tax Man, Gambling Commission and Ambulance service.

For more details on the Bill, which is awaiting Royal Assent;

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper

and the Petition against it;

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/173199

If you google 'snoopers charter' you'll get half a dozen companies offering VPNs in the first page; these are perfectly legal and completely bypass the info gathering database. People who have something to hide can continue to hide it with zero technical knowledge, this bill has no practical use, except the possibility in future to be used to dig dirt on people, or to expose every detail of your life when someone leaves a laptop on a train or the system gets hacked....

As you've probably guessed, I completely oppose it. With how much of our daily lives now gets routed through the internet, this is the equivalent of bugging every citizen, just in case they one day are suspected of something. It is also worth noting that consulting a judge is not required to access the data.

Hopefully someone will find this useful and worthwhile, if you oppose it, please sign the petition and contact your MP.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
Hello Ryan.

I'm with you on this one! It's an appallingly illiberal piece of legislation with no equivalent in any other democratic country. However this obsession with putting in place what accounts to potential blanket surveillance is not unique to the UK. In the US it was pretty much knocked on the head by the Snowden leaks, but there is a similar thing happening in France for example. The Germans, with recent experience of what that means and potential misuse are far more wary about these things.

Now someone is bound to say that they have nothing to fear as they have nothing to hide. The problem is that you don't have a say on what it is that you may like to hide. And that even if the government (not even specifically the current one, I mean it was Blair who first went after this) is benevolent and well-meaning, you have no guarantee that a future one would not put such powerful tools to more nefarious use. More prosaically, at my local hospital, I've seen a post-it note on a PC with the login details for patient records for convenience. Now imagine everyone with access does something like that. There's your safeguards gone...
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
I am very concerned about the potential for future abuse, but my more current concern is the one you mentioned - the more people who have access, the less seriously the security measures are taken, and how long until the post-it ends up in the wrong hands.

I'm shamelessly ripping off a comment on one of the articles I have read on the issue but I like this quote from Terry Pratchett;

"Commander Vimes didn't like the phrase 'The innocent have nothing to fear', believing the innocent had everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like 'The innocent have nothing to fear'."


Those that want to get their conspiracy hats on might notice that every article on the issue is not available on the home page of newspapers, but is hidden under 'Tech', as if it is a new development in phone technology, instead of a violation of 70 million people's privacy to levels most dictatorships would be proud of...
 

The fourth Horseman

Well-Known Member
I must admit it scares me a little,as things I have done in the past may well return to haunt me. This is particularly worrying if the devolved Governments or Assemblies can go fishing.
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Hi Pine Marten,

I missed the first bit of your post completely!

I think France and Germany are also less likely to get this level of surveillance due to being covered by the ECHR (correct abbreviation?). Not in any way trying to make this political, this legislation is equally intrusive regardless of your political views.

Ryan
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Hi fourth Horseman,

There is nothing to stop fishing, and the broad access seems to almost promote it.

Maybe this isn't as off topic as I initially thought - how long until it is included in Firearm Licensing background checks?

Just a thought.

Ryan
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
Well I regularly visit websites about firearms, wishy-washy liberal politics, some of which are in Foreign, am in regular contact with a network of people who share some of these interests, many of whom are also foreign and so who knows what they're up to, a couple of them are middle-Eastern, or Russian, or involved in NGO's, or "activist leftwing human rights lawyers" as the current PM calls them. You can tell that from the IPs and email adresses, even if you can't read the content.

Paints a pretty suspect picture if you leave it at that, doesn't it?

[Hi there, GCHQ guys! It's a lovely day outside, you should go for a walk...]
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
Hi Pine Marten,

I missed the first bit of your post completely!

I think France and Germany are also less likely to get this level of surveillance due to being covered by the ECHR (correct abbreviation?). Not in any way trying to make this political, this legislation is equally intrusive regardless of your political views.

Ryan
Well we're covered by that too, and it may yet come into play. In fact it has several times, as in the recent ruling the the UK had been illegally gathering data on people for the past 17 years, but under the new legislation, it would be legal. So that doesn't help. The ECHR generally isn't keen on telling countries how to legislate, it's usually about individual cases. Especially when it comes to "security" and governments in the UK and France certainly are now always claiming that everything is about security. France had very strong and prescient digital privacy legislation with a specific exception for matters pertaining to "security". When Sarkozy was Interior Minister/Home secretary (concurrent with Blair here), he undermined it all by showing that security applied to more and more areas. And so that broke that safeguard down. But even then it's not as intrusive as what's proposed here.
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Haha you have given a similar argument as I did to someone who laughed it off saying if they want to read my emails about second hand furniture they can;

I have done quite a bit of research on the dangers of reloading and double charging muzzle loaders, what sets powders off and what I need to be careful of getting near my reloading room. I am also a chemist, and have done research on all of the peculiar things that working for a chemical company while studying for a degree entails.

This info alone, taken out of context and put in front of the right people would probably convince a lot of people that I am up to dodgy things.

On the other hand, thanks to the new laws I plan on getting a VPN just as my own little protest, so in a way in has probably improved my privacy slightly!

With regard to the ECHR, I have little to no knowledge on it, I may have been misinformed but was told that Holland (or maybe another nearby EU country) instated something similar to what is happening here, but was defeated in the ECHR, and subsequently removed it.

I doubt similar would happen here, since PM is hellbent on removing ECHR, but it is food for thought.
 
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Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
On the other hand, thanks to the new laws I plan on getting a VPN just as my own little protest, so in a way in has probably improved my privacy slightly!
No, it makes you more suspect for deliberately hiding! What are you hiding, eh? Of course the proper answer that most people would understand face to face would be "Well it's none of your bloody business, is it?".
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
No, it makes you more suspect for deliberately hiding! What are you hiding, eh? Of course the proper answer that most people would understand fact to face would be "Well it's none of your bloody business, is it?".
I have a little smile at the hope that it makes someone expend time and effort to specifically target my history only to get to see endless searches for PC components I will never buy, and rifles that I could never afford! Just because I legitimately have nothing that needs hiding, doesn't mean I'm not going to hide it anyway...
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Thanks McKenzie,

If it is any consolation, they have that anyway now, if the petition doesn't get enough support or is simply ignored anyway they'll have it through the new laws.

I like to think that by signing and raising a little awareness, I've done what I can and therefore have the unrestricted right to bitch and moan about the result if it doesn't go my way!
 

McKenzie

Well-Known Member
Thanks McKenzie,

If it is any consolation, they have that anyway now, if the petition doesn't get enough support or is simply ignored anyway they'll have it through the new laws.

I like to think that by signing and raising a little awareness, I've done what I can and therefore have the unrestricted right to bitch and moan about the result if it doesn't go my way!
Can you explain 'VPN' please?
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
Well even in a domestic setting, would you be happy with your wife or partner or flatmate monitoring your post and your phonecalls? Sure a degree of that happens even if by mistake but essentially, you trust people to respect your privacy as far as is practicable. And even if you have full disclosure of everything at home, you've presumably consented to that with someone you trust.

The consent and trust parts are fundamental to this.
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
I doubt similar would happen here, since PM is hellbent on removing ECHR, but it is food for thought.
I really don't want to start this again, but I should say that the ECHR is a separate thing from the EU, so our participation is not on the face of it affected by Brexit. And to clarify further, the "PM" that EccentricJackal mentions is Theresa May, not me!

I forgot something about my digital communications records: a persistent interest in matters relating to digital privacy, personal data and surveillance. I've been into that since before most people didn't care, back when most people didn't even know what we were talking about! So that's some progress I suppose. Either way, I'll probably end up in the Tower...
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
Given that Snowden showed us that the Western Governments have been doing this without the benefit of legislation anyway, and will continue to do so even if the bill is somehow rejected...at least everybody now knows it is being done and can act accordingly.

The obvious danger of so many more people having easy access obviously raises lots of security issues...it would appear to be a blackmailer's charter.

Leaving aside the post it note scenario...If it is only senior levels who have access, Police ranked inspector and above what makes them so squeaky clean? Have there never been any wrongdoers promoted above inspector? Doctors and above in the health service...Dr Shipman anyone? Will a smart blackmailer not be able to become a HSE manager? Will an undercover member of ISIS never be able to get into the upper ranks of the Welsh Ambulance Service?

I spend a lot of time looking at a forum for stalkers and one for forgers...what hope for me.

It strikes me that this will only enable the Government to hit easy targets...those using computers openly for nefarious purposes...anybody who is planning world domination or major tax evasion will probably be employing computer nerds/protocols to keep their activities invisible.

I have no answers for the alternatives, but I wonder how many billions of man hours and pounds have been lost/involved with the additional security and check-in times at Airports for instance...terrorism, or rather the response to the threat of terrorism, disrupts and affects so many more lives than just those it shoots or blows up.

Alan
 
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EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
Can you explain 'VPN' please?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, my understanding of the intricate details is limited, but essentially you pay a company a small fee (£3-£10) to route all of your internet usage through them. These companies are often set up in countries that don't spy on their citizens, so that there is absolutely no way to track what you do, however UK based ones exist, and can provide good protection too, as they have a policy of simply not recording anything, so police can be given all data the company has, and actually be giving nothing.

The end result is that as far as your internet provider can see, all of your internet usage as just "connected to X company server at X time", so any government agency that wants to track you would need to specifically target you and intercept communication at your house, which you would hope requires some sort of reasonable suspicion. Actual criminals can take this much further to remain truly anonymous, and I can link some articles (again, all perfectly legal) if you're interested, but this is how to 'opt out' of the new law if you wish.

This is all perfectly legal, as almost every large company has one to allow confidential emails to be accessed on the road, this is simply another application of it.


You make a good point Pine Marten, that it comes down to trust and consent, which by sneaking this through while the world watches Brexit and Trump, the government has violated both.

I'm aware they're separate, there was leaked documents today on Theresa May's plans to get out of the ECHR, as it is incompatible with her plans for Britain... I didn't mean to word it as if they are one and the same.

I wholeheartedly apologise! I think I used PM to mean Prime Minister and Pine Marten in two different sentences within the same post, potentially very insulting and entirely my fault!
 

EccentricJackal

Well-Known Member
It strikes me that this will only enable the Government to hit easy targets...those using computers openly for nefarious purposes...anybody who is planning world domination or major tax evasion will probably be employing computer nerds/protocols to keep their activities invisible.

I have no answers for the alternatives, but I wonder how many billions of man hours and pounds have been lost/involved with the additional security and check-in times at Airports for instance...terrorism or rather the threat of terrorism, disrupts and affects so many more lives than just those it shoots or blows up.

Alan
Hi Alan,

I agree with everything you said, and this bit specifically is what I was trying to address with my previous posts; as usual law makers are years behind, you don't need to employ computer nerds to avoid this entirely, I could teach the most computer illiterate (assuming at least enough computer knowledge to use this forum) to circumvent this in less than an hour, and I consider myself about average when it comes to tech (for my age at least). Especially now, with the news of this Bill, since most tech sites and newspapers have run articles on avoiding it.

I also disagree with the extensive use of the threat of terrorism to push through change, a figure thrown around a bit is that ~60 people have been killed by terrorism in UK in the last 10 years and that 2 people a week are killed by domestic violence; but you wouldn't think so to look at the time and money spent addressing each of them by our government....
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
I wholeheartedly apologise! I think I used PM to mean Prime Minister and Pine Marten in two different sentences within the same post, potentially very insulting and entirely my fault!
No offence taken! But you may be in trouble when GCHQ tells Theresa May that you confused her with me. Mostly though I'm pleased that so far, no-one has given me any new material for my signature.
 

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