back to article Big Brother is born. And we find out 15 years too late to stop him

The "Big Brother" comprehensive national database system feared by many MPs has been built behind their backs over the last decade, and even has a name for its most intrusive component: a central London national phone and internet tapping centre called PRESTON. PRESTON, which collects about four million intercepted phone calls …


        1. Emperor Zarg

          @NigelD Re: Curious

          I also do not buy this sort of argument. It seems to go hand in hand with the 'you should not mind being spied on if you have nothing to hide' view. No. Enough.

          The question is now how do we overturn this nonsense?

          The traditional way of resolving this is: a revolution.

          And that is precisely why the Government want to keep tabs on all of us. They are probably already making a league table of my past, present and future indiscretions, that will be ready for publication ... be left on a train ... be inadvertently photographed in the hands of a Government minister as he walks into No. 10 ... mysteriously appear in the public domain should I ever decide to step out of line.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @NigelD Curious

            Blakes 7

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious

      @ will Geoffrey

      Perhaps they need to complete the Orwellian paradigm by continuing the war with East Asia.

      Victory is irrelevant, and even undesirable, because then the snoops might be asked to shut down their gravy train.

      1. Dadmin

        Re: Curious

        You said the magic phrase; Gravy Train. This is precisely why I refuse to purchase antivirus software; if it really worked there would be no more malware because their product would actually secure my system throughout. Companies like Symantec badly need to have new malware being produced for their cycle of fear=profit to continue. Afraid of something? Buy our anti-somthing! Guarenteed to thwart Terrorists™, Polar Bears and Tiger attacks in the greater London area!

        Same thing with the UK and US secret spy operations; if they actually worked then we'd know about it. It simple doesn't work, and can never work, but it generates billions upon billions of dollars for everyone involved in the scam, er I mean the "Finding and prosecuting of Terrorists™". Because Fear == Profit and or massive secret funding. And who wouldn't love to accept and abuse some nice massive secret funding? It makes me hard just thinking about massive secret funding! When you walk about, fearful of Terrorists™ around ever corner, that means money to people and organizations who can use your fear to make you purchase all sorts of unnecessary weaponry and camera systems for your house and person, but it get better. You get to have your sweet tax dollars and pounds go back into raping your privacy! Oh, now I'm almost finished. Just a bit more... Terrorists™!!1! Ahhhh. I need a smoke, guys...

        1. Mark 85

          Re: Curious

          Take a step back for a minute... replace "gravy train" and any reference to money with "power". Any TLA/FLA worth it's budget is also watching the government higher-ups as well. Not just for budget and favorable legislation. Everyone involved at high levels is power mad. Just like corporates. Money is the result of the power.

          Now if we, citizens had a mind to, we could toss monkey wrenches (spanners) into the system. Have a day or two with no phone, no internet. Have a day or two of discussion using key phrases and words. Have normal days with phones and internet. It will create confusion amongst those watching the proles but not those watching the higher-ups. It also might drag a few would-be terror types, etc. out into the sunlight since patterns do come into play when analyzing trends and data.

          Go have your smoke... turn off your cell and computer while doing it. If someone is really watching YOU, they'll get nervous is suddenly you drop off their radar.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Curious

          Dadmin - you have really hit the nail on the head here.

          It is coming to light that ISIS is a creation of the US DoD, and there are some documents to prove it.

          How else would they get their funding. There appears to be rogue elements in the CIA/MI5/6 that are creating and causing these acts to get people to give up their freedoms.

          How is it that since 9/11 we have had a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist organisations, when prior to that there was only one?

          See this..

          1. Christoph

            Re: Curious

            "How is it that since 9/11 we have had a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist organisations, when prior to that there was only one?"

            Because since 9/11 we have been bombing the shit out of various mostly or entirely innocent people with the glaringly obvious direct result of creating more terrorists.

            The DoD doesn't need to directly create them. We give millions of people a burningly strong reason to hate us, we leave huge caches of weapons around, we even train people who are supposedly on our side before forcing them to turn against us.

            It would be startlingly weird if there were not lots more terrorists.

          2. Bernard M. Orwell

            Re: Curious

            Additional evidence of "constructed terror":


    2. Grikath

      Re: Curious

      "They have this vast quantity of data, yet they still struggle to catch one terrorist."

      That may be because the object of the excercise itself is not Catching Terrorists, despite all the propaganda, but control over the people who aren't (yet).

    3. khjohansen

      Re: Curious

      The terrrist attacks must continue - if they can keep us in fear, they can keep us in line!

  1. SolidSquid

    Given the seriousness of this, I'm curious what their justification is for not informing MPs of it, given that MPs are supposed to be the ones who decide whether to allow it to continue, pass an Act to legalise it or pass another to ban it. Apart from the obvious "they might ban it" excuse, which basically admits to knowing it's illegal, or "they might talk about it", which would be covered by the official secrets act

    1. Blank-Reg
      Big Brother

      As that old saying goes: Slowly slowly catchy monkey

      In this case scum have managed to build a true big brother database (I suggest the term database be used in any talk on this bill and is said loudly and often) and are slowly revealing little bits to clueless MP's until its too late:

      "And this bit here holds the phone call records. To, err, see if Terrorists (Terrorists! yes that's brilliant) make phonecalls"

      ...a year later...

      "And this bit keeps the travel records, so we can see where the terrorists are flying from and to"

      Ad nauseam

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As that old saying goes: Slowly slowly catchy monkey

        Nope, the steady drip, drip, drip of leaks and/or legislation is more akin to boiling a frog, lobster or crab.

        The family I rent a room from is Black and I've been living here so long (15 years), I'm one of the family now. They've been calling these revelations as nothing new ('But they've always been doing this.'), even actually mild in comparison to what's 'actually going on.' Guess this 'White Boy' needs to clean out his ears.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I'm curious what their justification

      I'm curious what their justification

      Absolute power... Corrupts Absolutely...

  2. AegisPrime


    Ok, I'm getting sick of this shit - how do we find out what information our own government is holding on us? There must be an EU process no?

    I was never 'fine' with any of this and as a direct consequence of the Snowden papers now use a VPN, Protonmail etc. (because, y'know - PRIVACY) - but the extent of this is too much now - I want to know everything they have on me even if it's benign. There has to be some legal way...

    1. sysconfig

      Re: EU?

      Freedom of Information Act?

      EU, not so sure...

      Mine is the one with hundreds of heavily redacted pages in its pockets...

      1. AegisPrime

        Re: EU?

        Yeah, I was thinking FOI might be the logical place to start the process (of course, you won't get your 'Preston' dossier because 'national security') - I'm thinking the EFF might have some ideas?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EU?

      Eu does something only when the ENEMY is involved.

      When the Russians defined in law, built and deployed (with at least some legal oversight) the same system in the late 90-es we:

      1. Ordered the howling monkeys in the media to howl their ass off.

      2. Eu/USA/UK financed an "independent non-government" organization (quotes intended where they are) to drag them in front of the European court of human rights (and after that we wonder why the hell did they tighten up the rules on external political financing so much).

      'cause that was the ENEMY. When we do the same (actually worse - no regulatory regime and no legal oversight in any form even by a kangaroo court), what do we do? We smile and wave.

      Do not do as I do, do as I say.


      Re: EU?

      DPA Subject Access request?

  3. caffeine addict

    Can we hire the guy who the Americans get to make up their acronyms? Patriot and Prism vs RIPA and Preston? Oh dear...

    1. MyffyW Silver badge


      Independent Directorate for Information OversighT

      or IDIOT - which is what we've been taken for in the name of "security".

      Best thing we could have done on 11th September 2001 was shrug our shoulders and say "Life goes on. Don't expect us to do your work for you, Mr Terrorist."

      1. DrBobMatthews

        Re: Acronyms

        MyffW Reminds me of the acronym floating around in SHAPE inn the 1960's Supreme Head Intelligence Targeting or SHIT for short.

    2. AceRimmer

      The British tend to use very innocuous names. The general rule is the more innocent and dull sounding the name, the more dangerous the named item will be.

      Just waiting for GERBIL to be brought on line

    3. Amorous Cowherder



      1. Christoph

        Re: Names?

        As long as it isn't SCORPION STARE

      2. Flywheel

        Re: Names?


        Key-Encrypted Verifiable Insurgent Node

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telecommunications Act of 1984

    Pure comedy!


  5. Muscleguy

    Aluminium beanie on order

    How do you tell if your phone has been hacked? I'm asking perfectly seriously as mine is behaving strangely and considering the sort of people known to be being spied on domestically as a Yes Campaigner, member of SCND and active in RIC I would certainly qualify.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How do you tell if your phone has been hacked?

      take out the battery

      then buy an Alcatel 2G phone at EE for a tenner in cash with free Google Cardboard viewer and a ten-pound top-up activated international SIM included,

      and you'll have a phone that hasn't been hacked. (You'll be identified in the PRESTON database as soon as you use it to talk to anyone tho')

      I refer you to the Clash Lyrics for 'know your rights- all 3 of them'

  6. Teiwaz

    Clearly the facists won the war after all.

    All reports to the contrary are propaganda.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Clearly the facists won the war after all"

      arguably, they did, in the form of Uncle Joe and friends. Go far enough to one political extreme and start to come back around full circle?

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Teiwasteofoxygen

      "Clearly the facists won the war after all....." So you missed the bit where New Labour were in charge for the majority of this program?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Teiwasteofoxygen

        New Labour? Rings a bell. Oh yes: When Margaret Thatcher was asked what she regarded as her greatest achievement, she is said to have replied: “New Labour”. 'Nuff said.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And so technology becomes the enemy

    Civilisation was fun while it lasted.

  8. chris 17 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    the truth comes out at last

    1. Teiwaz
      Big Brother

      A little more at least.

      Until the next fresh round of infringements are revealed.

  9. Camilla Smythe

    I have been radicalised.

    This sort of shit makes me consider suicide. Arguing against it is pointless so perhaps I should Google 'Strap On Bomb' and go visit some of the perpetrators.

    There you go... There's a test of how good their capabilities are.

    You may assume if I am not posting after Christmas they are for shit or otherwise I am either in a rubber room, being water-boarded in far away places or dead as a result of causes not instigated by myself.

    1. Clive Galway

      Re: I have been radicalised.

      While this may have been in jest, this may be a good way to hit back,

      If everybody started discussing bomb plots with their mates, browsing Jihadist websites and generally trying to generate as many false positives as possible, they would become overwhelmed and may be forced to dial it back a notch or two.


      1. Camilla Smythe

        Re: I have been radicalised.

        While this may have been in jest, this may be a good way to hit back,

        Have a down vote. My disgust and possible intent has bugger all to do with your interpretation.

      2. AustinTX

        Re: I have been radicalised.

        Nope, no no. They'd simply make that sort of anarchy illegal, and your new criminal status would be used against you. Question: how do you feel about being involuntarily recruited to process shrimp?

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The times they are a'changed. Interesting zerodays ahead

    There are now dozens of intelligence "Bulk Personal Datasets" on millions of people, "the majority of whom are unlikely to be of intelligence interest", as the government has admitted in documents accompanying the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

    In the blink of an eye, can any number of those millions of no present intelligence interest, take an altogether different path, fully mindful of the intellectual challenges and virtual hurdles to be overcome and circumvented.

    ’Tis a fine folly to believe that more than just a chosen few, and many, will not be able. And what of the smart groomers of the system, aces in both the delicate micro and mass macromanagement of perception, and whose trails lead to confusing, compromising destinations and novel situations never before encountered, and which it would be a tragedy for systems operations/operatives to foolishly and/or arrogantly ignore or dismiss as too freaky and spooky to explore and/or engage and/or exploit?

    Such a non-action is a perfect green light for the further unhindered sowing of obviously exotic and perfectly camouflaged plans.

  11. Bernard M. Orwell

    Wel, F***k me....

    Set up in 1999 by Blair, continued by Cameron.

    It didn't stop 9/11. It didn't stop 7/7. It didn't stop Lee Rigbys death. It didn't help prevent Paris attacks.

    It doesn't work, clearly.

    It was put into place without proper government oversight, without parliamentary assent, without the mandate of the nation.

    It's function - whatever that may be - is not in the interests of the British people.

    Those responsible for this heinous act should be immediately arrested and tried for treason, then sent down for the rest of their natural lives as a warning that we do not tolerate the subversion of our democracy. Are we not fighting against terrorism to preserve that very democracy?

    Or are we just preserving the power of the elite?

    This has to end, before we all get "radicalised".

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Wel, F***k me....

      So who is going to jail over deliberately misleading parliament?

      Yep, thought so...

    2. Emperor Zarg

      Re: Wel, F***k me....

      It was put into place without proper government oversight, without parliamentary assent, without the mandate of the nation.

      I held this view until today.

      I think it had all the oversight the Government wanted. None.

      And that is the problem.

      The Government should not have the ability to anything except in full view of the public. They repeatedly demonstrate that they cannot be trusted. They are supposed to be acting in our interests - and if they are not, that makes them the ENEMY.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wel, F***k me....

        So what happens when you hit a genuine "Private Snafu" situation where you really, REALLY don't want information to be revealed to the public for fear of Revealing Information to the Enemy?

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: Wel, F***k me....

          "So what happens when you hit a genuine "Private Snafu" situation where you really, REALLY don't want information to be revealed to the public for fear of Revealing Information to the Enemy?"

          You obtain legal counsel and authority, resolve the situation, neutralise the perpetrators, make arrests as needed, ensure the loose ends are tied and then report to the authorities duly notarised as oversight. Eventually, reveal the details to the public who clearly have questions and want answers.

          You do NOT hide the facts, let the miscreants carry out their plans, lie to parliament about the scope of your activities, redact all public record and ensure there is no legal or judicial oversight....

          ....unless you are ISIS.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When does this hit C4 News, UK mainstream media, etc?

    Are New Statesman, Daily Mirror, World In Action (etc) still relevant (if they still exist)?

    Or does it need to go direct via Facebook, Twitter, etc?

    Rate this article: think of a number bigger than 10. 127 will do for now.

    Under eleven months to November 5th.

  13. David Pollard

    Ta Muchly

    Thank you Mr Campbell for your continuing good work. National security is much improved when its methods are open to scrutiny.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Ta Muchly

      For the benefit of downvoters:

      A 'secret' security system may at first glance seem better than one which is open to scrutiny. But like back-doors in encryption or proprietary blobs in open source code, when things do go wrong, and sooner or later some aspects will surely be compromised, then it's a devil of a job to get things straight again.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Out demons, out

    Mr Campbell we salute you.

    This helps explain why Straw was so keen to get FOI rejigged - he's in on the big database, so feels 'ownership' of it - and if David Davis had got to be PM he'd be joining in the party.

    All these fuckers just get off on the power.

    (Posted anonymously to show how feeble we drones are, in our attempts to evade the Panopticon)


POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like