back to article dishes out £19m for comms snoop data silos

The UK government has given communications providers almost £19m in the last four years under anti-terror laws to pay for access to huge compulsory databases of customer information. The annual level of grants under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) and the EU Data Retention Directive 2007 (EUDRD) has …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Just ban electric communication in UK and save billions of tax money

    This is a bit silly, giving people the freedom to use technologhy but then not trusting them and spending hmm in 6 months over 2 millions pounds of tax payers money snooping the tax payer ...

    This place is only going to get worse lol just look at the figures its twice last years and were half way through the year...

    I worry that if there are so many terrorist when are they gonna actually do something... since i dont hear no arrests no actual attacks and yet we have more and more snooping going on ?

    All together now When are you to officials going to hold an enquiry into the Iraq war and wether this war in Iraq has increased your own threats over here..

    Across the pond the rest of europe arent as paranoid as the DK yep DK not UK lol

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What classes as a telco here?

    Eg my line rental is paid to BT, my calls are supposedly routed through TalkTalk (via carrier preselect) but actually most of my chargeable calls go through a non-UK company accessed via a dial prefix (one of the many Finarea companies...).

    As they're not a UK company, what rules apply to them?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Take me back to the last century (or earlier)

    When an Englishman was free to talk to whomever he liked without being listened to by 25 government men, from MI5 to the local council.

    When he could drink and smoke without being nagged to death and forced into the street.

    When he was who he said he was without the need for an ID card.

    When what he earned was his own, other than his contribution to the coffers the government used to keep the country running, not have it taken away to fund vanity projects and an ever growing public sector bureacracy.

    When he could be held (and probably roughed up) by the coppers for only a couple of days without them have a jolly good reason.

    When, if he tripped up in the street, it was his own damn fault and he got a grazed knee, not a payout.

    Between Nanny and Big Brother, I don't feel much like that once-free Englishman any more.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Prole transparency

    I see.

    So the government + Europe are paying large companies to look at what I bought, where I bought it and what I do generally on the internet, to intercept and monitor all text messages and phone calls.

    They want to pool it all together and potentially share it across the globe, so somebody else can trawl through it all and use it - presumably to look for terrorists.

    Anybody else feeling uncomfortable with this?

  5. David Pollard
    Black Helicopters

    And the rest?

    As I recall, around £20 million was paid out in 2000-2001 to the telecoms industry to facilitate data logging of customers' use of their systems; additional equipment was required when RIPA was introduced. Mention of this is omitted in the recent figures in Hansard, thus casting a false impression of the scope and scale of monitoring. Perhaps El Reg could dig out and publish these pertinent details, please?

    It's hard not to imagine that there are some who envisage that costs of surveillance could be at least partly covered with a slice of income from licences for behavioural marketing which would also use this personal data.

  6. Andrew Culpeck
    Thumb Down


    No I dont feel comfy.

  7. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    Communists? Amateurs!

    What's worse, the state knowing everything about you, or world+dog knowing everything about you?

  8. n
    Black Helicopters

    should read...

    "..administrative cook up.."

  9. alan

    PILA FTW!!

    If were already under suspicion of being terrorists because we make phonecalls / use the internet, why don't we just start actually BEING terrorists? That way, we could fight back against the oppression of the infidels occupying our holy motherland and erase the need to spend all this money - they can just assume any internet user is a high-level al-Qa'ida bomb maker.

    'mon the People's Interweb Liberation Army!!

    whos with me?

  10. Craig

    re: alan

    Maybe I missed it in the related stories, but what is the deal with ISPs and data retention? I always think "nah, they couldn't possibly record everyones net use" but I wouldn't put it past this government trying... £19m would help build a pretty big machine to log requests!

  11. N

    also available as a limited edition boxed DVD set...

    Despatched via TNT?

  12. alan


    It kinda (for me anyways) dates back to the Phorm scare of earlier this year - they were collecting informations about ppl's activity on the web and then using that info to target ads at them - is was a stealth trial they conducted on unsuspecting BT customers.....

    I suppose just saying " + ability to spy on joe blogg's net usage + post-9/11 paranoia == increased - snoop-spending" pretty much sums it up.

    and 19million could buy ALOT of 1TB hard drives XD

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    "£19m would help build a pretty big machine to log requests!"

    Not if it is a government project; better make it £19bn and even then they'll lose data on CD's and laptops.

  14. RW

    Lies, all lies

    They say it's to combat crime and terrorism.

    It's actually just a brainwave of the marketing types subsidized by tax revenue. Wait until they unleash the Phormers on those data silos. Can we say "targeted advertising in spades"? There, I knew you could.

    PS: let's not forget that in today's Britain, serious crime is "dropping a candy wrapper", whereas "knifing someone to death" is treated as mere juvenile playfulness.

    it's all about targets and lazy cops: it's far easier to harass someone who dropped the candy wrapper than to do the serious investigation required to solve a murder. And since NuLabour loves targets, not results, it's no wonder the coppers prefer to chase the candy wrapper droppers.

    Mutatis mutandies, it's a lot easier to trawl through everyone's private communications than actually do the legwork needed to prevent terrorist activities.

  15. Andy Bright


    Yawn, GCHQ has had the authority to monitor our communications for years. The UK has never had any sort of privacy in this regard. This isn't the US, we don't have half the protections against unlawful search and seizures as most people suppose. And even when the law is broken, juries have a tendency to ignore this using the truly brilliant theory that 'you must be guilty or you wouldn't be on trial'.

    For all that people love to hate the US, and for all their own violations of what we consider decent, they do have significantly more in the way of civil rights than we do. That's not saying much of course.

    We love to mock the lawsuit. But what we forget is this is a tool used to prevent government abuse as well as fill the wallets of the greedy.

    We have no power to reverse a law if it violates our own constitution or bill of rights. Any attempt to do so would result in a new law making our arguments obsolete and the attempt at reversal illegal. That's because the UK is closer to a dictatorship than a democracy, just as the US is closer to a republic than a democracy. Our Prime Minister has more power to change and create law than any President.

    Is that good or bad? I don't know, my guess is both. Bad when abused, good when something needs doing and doing fast.

    But the idea that monitoring communications without warrants or oversight is new is absurd. It's always been done, and almost no jury in the country has seen fit to declare it illegal.

    Personally I think listening in on your own people smacks of paranoia and speaks volumes about the government doing it. Normally we associate this behaviour with dictatorships, juntas and communist regimes. They're afraid their own people might rise up and overthrow them. Tell me that doesn't make you wonder why both the US and UK governments have the same paranoia.

    They're more afraid of their own populations than any outside threat. Which is odd given the complacency in the voting both. Scream and shout all you like, but if you don't vote for someone that 'doesn't stand a chance' or for anyone that isn't the incumbent dick that supported these laws, and you're absolutely agreeing with the government's right to do these things.

    The only power we have in the UK to change laws is to express our displeasure in an election. If we don't do that, we're agreeing with everything they do.

  16. Geoff Mackenzie

    UK or China?

    What's worse? Banning certain sites or saying "Sure, go ahead, look at whatever interests you. We'll be watching from the next room."

    These nasty, greasy little people give me the creeps.

  17. Wayland Sothcott
    Black Helicopters

    What is the Internet what is a Router?

    The name Internet with the capital I comes from the smaller word internet which means interconnected networks. The Internet is not one thing except in that it's one global address space.

    Get this, you can have a public subnet with each of your users being able to communicate peer to peer with each other without going through the actual Internet provided by your ISP. So who is recording this traffic?

    It could be a bit like Y2K, nothing happened because we all worked hard fixing the Y2K bug. So the reason we have no terrorist attacks is because all this spooking is working. But to stay ahead of the terrorists we have to keep getting tougher anti-terror laws. Do we need another terror attack to prove this or should we just clamp down on freedoms just in case?

  18. Owen Williams
    IT Angle

    Avoid detection???

    freenet, gpg, tor, privoxy etc.

    or use the free wifi at the varsity pub in le1.

    This isn't about competent crims. My paranoia reaches as far as the cabinet believing that computers can accurately read our thoughts. Divots. clots, sods.

    Listening? : anthrax etc.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Regd out

    EUDRD I guess its been to long a week. One look at this and all I think about is what sort of turd, absurd, turgid, legislation. Look at all the acronyms, I think I just can't, can't drive myself to read the article, I'll loose my mind.

    Oh yeah I work in IT what am I saying.....

  20. Florence Stanfield

    GB paranioa and Phorm

    This wil drive innocent people toi start to encrypt everything just to protect their own privacy.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greater us of HTTPS

    I currently use a bunch of extensions with FF to enhance privacy online, but unfortunately the ISP (and in turn the state) can see what I've been surfing, unless I send traffic through TOR or services like Relakks.

    Does anyone know if there is in existence a FF extension that changes the behaviour of FF so it defaults to using HTTPS rather than HTTP? It could be set up such that when you enter a URL or click a link it tries HTTPS instead of HTTP, but falls back to HTTP if the site doesn't have HTTPS (like el Reg).

    I appreciate that HTTPS doesn't stop the ISP and state from seeing who you've been communicating with, but it does obscure things and stops them knowing what was said (and exactly which files you request from a site).

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @Greater us of HTTPS

    nope, I just have stuffed the FF extension TrackMeNot v0.5.3.a (available from which throws out more or less random bursty searches 24h/day to !Yahoo, Goggle and co. The newer versions of this reseed the search file based upon elements of the returned response. In fact I never Google anything now, it's just TrackMeNot doing it randomly!!!! Can you prove it was me and not my PC?

    currently someone/something at my IP addr is demanding to know

    RAF Northolt Islanders ZH536 ZF573

    GCHQ MI5 Bradford

    Airport delays -ghost

    local weather -Sims



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