back to article 'to drop' überdatabase from snoop Bill

The government will drop plans for a massive central database to track private communications from the forthcoming Communications Data Bill, but officials will proceed with the multi-billion project in the background instead. Senior civil servants will discreetly run the project to swerve potential political opposition to a …


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  1. Jonathan

    Wonder why

    Did the government realize they can get Phorm to do most of the monitoring for half the price?

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon

    clothing demand

    I'm ordering my jack-boots now before the demand outstrips supply.

    Slowly slowly catchee monkey.

    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither".

    Bloody apathetic planet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's almost ironic, as China slowly baby steps to opening up its society (having seen how well jumping into democratic capitalism works in Russia and Yugoslavia - I think they have cause to be cautious) we in the west hurtle towards authoritarian fascism - well it's easier to be "safe" that way... If you're a rich powerful supporter of the rulling elite at least.

  4. Sooty

    would be pointless

    it's only useful to have a database of every piece of electronic communication, if you can accurately relate it to the person making or recieving the communication. As we have seen recently the ISP's lists of IP addresses can be years out of date, and even then that only ties the communication to a location.

    Detailed examination will possibly confirm who sent it, but a lot of it will be circumstantial so useless in any fair legal system, although probably quite useful in the current UK and US legal systems.

    If an email was sent from what your ISP says is your address, you are likely to have to prove that it wasn't you, rather than the more traditional, someone proving it was you.

  5. Maurice Shakeshaft

    I am having great trouble with this!

    I am a law abiding citizen - as far as I know - and speeding convictions represent the limit of my antisocial behaviour. I ABSOLUTELY resent my hard earned taxes being spent so frivolously and in such an underhand and unaccountable way.

    Apart from the intrusion - that makes "1984" look bland - were is the mandate and need for this level of scrutiny? What do our Lords and Masters really want?

    That I have nothing to hide does not mean that I want everybody to be able to know about me. Given the governments sieve like approach to securing data personal data I have no confidence that I will not be able to be "profiled" by people who have no right to access the data.

    I should not have to consider these issues in a civilised and democratic society and the sooner this nonsense is brought to an end the better. It is no argument to say the "ISPs can do it" - I have a choice not to use them. I have no choice but to comply with reasonable Government requirements.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @would be pointless

    "it's only useful to have a database of every piece of electronic communication, if you can accurately relate it to the person making or recieving the communication"

    This is such a sweeping, absolute statement, and as such is likely to be wrong, not least because opinion polls, double blind testing and a whole load of statistical and aggregated functions are valuable BECAUSE we don't know who the originator of the information is. (Though I do understand that your average middle tier mindset is unaware of the concept of aggregated functions.)

    The most explicit example of the above is...

    "Tell the speaker that someone in his audience has a gun, and is planning to kill him."

    Is the above sentence useless to anyone because it doesn't identify the person who wants to go forth with his Glock und spiel?

    It doesn't take ten years of thinking about this problem, to think of a dozen ingenious uses for the capture (and store) of all communications.

    I'll give another which is simply obvious, which is that after someone's dead you can't ask questions to their motivations.

    I for one couldn't give a toss if they centralise it. They probably have the ability to already. I saw a programme on BBC3 the other night about the information Tescos have, and they gave out the address of a cardholder, over the phone, if you're a sweet sounding woman and claim to have found the keys.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parliament don't want it

    Since the Labour party has a majority in Parliament, then neither do the Labour party want it. If they did, they'd have a vote. The fact they can't have a vote shows they would lose.

    Statutory instruments don't permit departures from the law they are supposed to implement, so it would not be legal to do so. Blair's last grab for absolute power the "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006" was stripped of the clauses that would have given him the absolute power to write or modify any laws in any way without Parliament. So Wacky S cannot do it either.

    Article 4, requires that access to the data has to be done in accordance with the privacy right and only done PER SPECIFIC CASE. So blanket collecting of everyones data on a central government database does not comply with that.

    To recap, UK doesn't want it, Labour don't want it, it's not legal to do it as a statutory instrument, and the man in charge (sic) does not have the power to bypass Parliament and change the law.

    "Member States shall adopt measures to ensure that data retained

    in accordance with this Directive are provided only to the competent

    national authorities in specific cases and in accordance

    with national law. The procedures to be followed and the conditions

    to be fulfilled in order to gain access to retained data in

    accordance with necessity and proportionality requirements shall

    be defined by each Member State in its national law, subject to the

    relevant provisions of European Union law or public international

    law, and in particular the ECHR as interpreted by the European

    Court of Human Rights."

  8. Nick Askew


    I can see that there will be a thriving trade in offshore secure proxies, unless, of course, the goverment plans to ban https also. And if you think that is unlikely well I've worked for employers that do exactly that in the name of security as they reason that if they cannot scan it then they cannot be sure it is safe content I'm viewing.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    The end of most ISP's

    When you consider that most of the internet is made up of porn and most trafic on pear to pear is of questionable material, this will put a stop to the lot as soon as people find out it is going on, that is it features in the mainstream press. So this will be the end of ISP's if they cater for the home user as I for one will be very very carefull what I do with the internet from now on.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    moustache fallen off, barnet doesn't look too secure.

  11. N

    Typical socialist governement

    To say one thing and do another.

  12. Jonathan

    @I am having great trouble with this!


    "Apart from the intrusion - that makes "1984" look bland - were is the mandate and need for this level of scrutiny? What do our Lords and Masters really want?"

    Its worse than that - they'll do a Phorm and sell your data. Not only do they monitor you, the government can make money off of you! Think of it - a massive interception database that pays for itself and then some. It benefits everyone involved! Except the consumer that is, but then they dont have much of a say in what goes.

  13. Nomen Publicus
    IT Angle

    It will be built, and never work.

    Why is the ex-MI5 guy wearing a rug?

    The real killer for this scheme is that it presumes that it is possible to detect intent from a rough collection of collectable factoids. An expensive boondoggle invented by the usual collection of IT companies that rely on the governments love of IT and their total incomprehension of what is possible.

  14. Jez Caudle

    I know what I'll be doing...

    Time to set up loads of email addresses and have them send loads of messages to each other with words like "bomb" in them. I have a 40gb cap on my ADSL and I use about 3gb a month. I'll use the other 37gb for sending rubbish and doing automated Google searches for bomb making and jihad and then spider those sites. With images switched off I should be able to hit a lot of web pages before my allocation runs out.

    I also get free evening and weekend calls to most of Europe and all of the USA and Canada - including mobiles!!. I'll set up the computer to ring random numbers in random countries or even chemical suppliers, small banks, Mosques etc that I have screen scrapped from the web.

    Now all I need is a few thousand more people who want to join in.

    Let them data mine shit!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Logging all connection info?

    Am I right in thinking that this is a list of all the connections you've made to another IP address, with time? This is being implemented at the same time as P2P is being introduced as a software delivery mechanism by major software firms as well as pirates - the oft-used excuses of linux distros, WoW updates, etc - which mean that the average person is connecting to a *lot* more people than previously, without any prior knowledge of the other person. Lots more noise, much less signal.

    Skype uses P2P, though admittedly doesn't offer anonymity - how long before a service that offers Skype calling over a Tor-like network comes along (or even a Freenet-style system)?

    By the time this system is in place, it will only catch the kind of terrorists who couldn't blow up balloons.

  16. Neil Stansbury
    Thumb Down


    Why oh why do we employ such abjectly stupid politicians and civil servants??

    The only thing this will catch is "what time is dinner tonight" and some porn emails.

    So I'm a terrorist, organised crime boss, general bad boy - I'm going to be using unencrypted email etc etc for what reason?

    It takes minutes to setup a local SMTP server on a PC with a PKI key, or an Apache server with some SSL keys.

    Oh boo hoo, so GHCQ have access to my 256bit encrypted data stream - what are they going to do next launch a "spy@home" project to brute force it all?

    Honestly - who hires these pricks.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    find wifes sisters & mothers of Secret service monitoring U

    And have flithy convos with their family and see how they like snooping on filth on their own family

  18. Ash

    What date is it today?

    Has March 32nd come so soon? Are they REALLY serious about this?

    Forget the Middle East, you're going to make enemies of your own people.

    @The end of most ISP's; You won't see this in the mainstream press; Either Murdoch owns it, or it's govt. controlled. You might hear hear a little mention, but only a "BB increased choco ration from 15g to 25g" MiniTruth garbage.

  19. Dr. Mouse

    Putting aside...

    ...the breach of my privacy that this presents, especialy given our govts 'interesting' approach to data security, the main objection I have to this is cost.

    This govt is practically bankrupt. The NHS gets no funding, the schools have 40-odd kids per class, our taxes keep going up... why the **** are they wasting OUR money on this ****?!?!

    Instead of throwing our money down the toilet with rediculous IT projects (dont get me started on the ID cards fiasco!) why not sort out the im[portant things first. Get the NHS back on track. Allow schools to do their jobs propperly. The list goes on, but you get the gist.

  20. Tim


    Well when I vote on this, oh dear, I forgot we live in an elected dictatorship I don't get to vote on anything except which government gets in and no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in. If this was another country the americans would come in and take over...... oh dear again.

  21. spiny norman


    It's a shame Jacqui Smith doesn't want to spend more time with her family, though I can see why they wouldn't want to spend more time with her.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All we need to do is to make a 'Subert@Home' piece of software that everyone installs on their home computers and it makes various connections on popular ports to various other 'Subvert@Home' members and transfers random data to and from them, constantly, sometimes small ammounts of data, sometimes larger. Of course, you'd need a suitable broadband package, but the gov's database would be full of noise and useless pretty quickly.

    Likewise, you can subvert the fingerprints as id part of the ID card by putting high res scans of your fingerprints online.

  23. Matthew Ellen

    Finding the bill

    I've been tracking the communications and data bill since I read about on the reg some time ago.

    I've been to the draft legislative programme's website at, and I've looked at the page about the communications and data bill. wow. what a wealth of information. (That's sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.)

    The page at isn't much better.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: a central database is a waste of time.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    "*Which may or may not be Jacqui Smith."

    here now, I think you meant "witch may be jacqui smith." that's right now, innit?

    Here's your coat. the gubmint is looking out for you. Move along now. nothin' to see.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Another one ticked off!

    I don't have a mobile phone, looks like I might be looking at dumping my land-line BB and going satellite to a country that isn't interested in every single byte I upload or download!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop talking about freedom vs security

    The only difference between freedom and security is whether we're discussing someone getting raped in their home or getting raped in a police cell.

  27. Simon Greenwood
    Thumb Up

    One ray of hope

    If it's civil servants implementing it, it will end up costing about five grand for every person in the UK and will involve having a card put in your PC with a label on it saying 'Property of HMG - do not touch'. And the card will be built of random components made in a factory in China.

  28. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Keystone Spooks? Or just not Equipped with the necessary Technology/Intellectual Property

    Sadly, it is probable that the present Intelligence Services, under the umbrella of MI5 and MI6, are unfit for Future Service which has the Cloud containing all Information.

    I would propose that they simply set up an Operation which can Fence what can be Discovered/Invented there to Media so that another Big Picture results. It is a very simple thing to do ........... whenever you have the right MetaDatabase Analytical Algorithms.

    As you can appreciate though, such Info would be more than just Valuable.

  29. Jimmy

    Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

    Let's just celebrate that this nightmarish project has been put on the back burner and relish the irony that the government's own economic policies are responsible for the decision.

    This is not a response to the widespread opposition and hostility that the project has generated, it's simply an acknowledgement that having doled out hundreds of billions of taxpayer's money to their crooked friends in the city, there is no money in the kitty for Nulabour vanity projects.

    Has anyone noticed the apparent contradiction between the government's stated policy (see title) and the fact that the victims of crime are losing their homes while the perpetrators are being rewarded for their dishonesty and blatant incompetence.

    Nulabour, friend of business and enemy of the people.

  30. Dennis O'Neill

    Needles in haystacks

    A serving MI5 officer was being interviewed a few years ago about the search for terrorists and government plans for tracking communications (the sort of plans that probably led to this current nonsense).

    He said that "Looking for terrorists is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I simply cannot see the point of piling more and more hay on top of the stack."

  31. kevin biswas

    Cant work it out...

    So it has been canceled. Except that the spooks are going ahead with it anyway. Huh ?

    OK. So that means that any evidence gained from it will not be admissible in any court except for the seriously-heavy-shit guantanamo bay type military tribunals where they probably decide the verdict beforehand anyway.

    So perhaps that means that ordinary people like file-sharers, income tax dodgers, dope smokers, benefit cheats, lefies, greenies, speeders, fox-hunters, fuel protesters, privacy advocates, you, me, my mates mum and her cat might be able to just get on with life (till Gordon Brown kicks their door in at 3am with a bunch of goons) Or somthing.

    Feck it all, I got a headache now. Need more whisky. Is that the paranoia fatigue setting in ?

  32. Florence Stanfield
    Thumb Down

    Is labour certifiable now

    I am sure that with this latest halfwit idea the whole labour government are certifiable as insane, unfit for the jobs they hold and time to see the shrink..

    If they go ahead with this when Brown is so far in debt with the country fast becoming a third world poor country..

    If they do continue the people will not continue to take this abuse of their privacy, human rights is it time for the public to stand up and say enough we do not wish to have this type of invasion if Brown is so scared of terrorists then resiign and buy some big home in middle of nowhere with high fencing and never come out.. That would do us all a favour.

  33. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Black Helicopters

    @Jez Caudle

    Indeed. I think we should also step up our campaign to "take out" the Dear Leader .. to dinner. Perhaps we should all meet in Second Life to discuss, erm, seating arrangements? I'm sure it'll go off like a bomb. Though why I should chose that particular metaphor escapes me at the moment...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    l really like this democracy thing, regardless of what we say we still dont get a choice,,, anyone got any emails for the so called rebel MPs ld love to put the cat amongst the pidgins, there needs to be a public agreement and some sort of legislation in place stating that those enforcing the law are not above it and dont have the right to disregard the privacies that they will all be afforded by their status (because l sure as hell want access to mr Browns internet usage if he has access to mine.. wouldnt be fair otherwise)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC 1428

    Please knock it off about Jacqui Smith being a witch. The witches I know are kind, caring people who are as disgusted and horrified as we are about these Gordongrad proposals. If you want to call her something else then please do, but her actions are not those of which any witch I know would be proud.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    British Democracy

    The process by which the Government attempts to pass legislation which is opposed by Parliament AND the general public 'for the general good'.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Cleaning up the monkey house.

    Is it just me, or does it look a little strange that a Government so keen to have every move made by their potentially disloyal serfs gets a little worried that the intelligence services and law enforcement would be given "unprecedented power to search and cross-reference mobile location data, phone calls, emails and web browsing"...

    So it's perfectly acceptable for every single citizen to live under constant surveillance, but as soon as it looks like our lords and masters might get the same scrutiny, they suddenly decide it's not such a good idea?

    How does it go, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"? Iosif Vissianorvich must be happy as apeshit.

    And didn't Ollie North suggest something similar to this a few years back? Mebbe he wasn't so dumb after all...

    Mine's the one with Carol Decker's mugshot on the back

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