back to article £12bn comms überdatabase 'wouldn't spot terrorists'

A heavyweight US investigation of counter-terror databases has concluded that the type of intelligence mining proposed by UK spy chiefs under the auspices of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) probably won't catch jihadis. The central database aspect of IMP is being discussed in secret on the basis it will " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The sillies

    This is not about combating terrorism, this is about controlling the public and making us slaves to the State Machine.

    The glorious ideal of all Left-wing governments.

  2. Robin Kinge

    überdatabase 'wouldn't spot terrorists'

    I think that has to be done by our teachers now...


  3. Anonymous Coward

    if they can't.....

    ...catch dole cheats, what chance are they of having trained terrorists caught?

    Al-Qweda, semptex, Osama Bin laden, IRA, MI5, MI6, GHCQ, Peter Mandleson - just keywords so "they" can investigate this posting ;-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    of course

    of course what happens if the bomber also happens to be a farmer, then the magical wonderbase wont find them as that isn't figured into the equation.

  5. Ash

    You can spot a terrorist on every street corner

    Loitering? That's potentially threatening behaviour. TERRORIST.

    Littering? Health hazard. TERRORIST.

    Muslim? Well... You can thank islamic extremists for that one. TERRORIST.

    Don't want an ID card? Must have something to hide. TERRORIST.

    Rant about upstanding citizens being victimised by poorly thought out legislation which makes criminals of the general population?


  6. The Other Steve

    Ah, expert opinion

    Herr Braun's government love to see expert opinions based on research and experience. So that they can completely fucking ignore them andvdobthe thing they first thought of.

    So this report is basically a big green light for Project Stasi.

  7. Luther Blissett

    Sorry, Chris

    I wrote this story yesterday in the commentards section.

  8. Francis Fish
    Black Helicopters

    Numb3rs - it's a TV programme FFS

    Yeah, when the prof comes up with a magic algorithm that finds the terrorist van out of several petabytes of photographs in less than an hour.

    TV programme, children, it's not real ...


  9. Anonymous Coward

    Sheeple everywhere

    Line up to be branded by the State

    Line up to be tagged by the State

    Line up to be shorn by the State

    Line up to be shagged by the State

    Sheeple, Sheeple everywhere.

    Placid, compliant, good little citizens.

  10. Ash


    It's more effective to donate there than bleating away your database state worries than here in the comments section. If this isn't stopped soon it will have gained too much momentum, if it hasn't already.

  11. adnim

    Of course it will be effective

    It is a known fact that terrorists actually planning an attack, as opposed to those merely fantasising, communicate in plain text/language via government monitored communications. They do this because they haven't a clue that telephone calls both mobile and land line are logged and monitored. They think the Internet is secure and that plain text email communication is not open to interception or key word sniffing. They have no reason at all to use the post, stenography, pgp, codewords or talk behind closed doors. When buying fertiliser just one person who has never bought fertiliser before buys 500Kg in one go, usually on line. It would never cross their minds to have several different people buy 10kg bags with cash from several garden centres dotted around the country.

    As mentioned this system is not about catching terrorists, unless "intelligence service" is an oxymoron.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Miracle solution found !

    Got a problem that, by traditional methods, is very hard to solve ?

    Got a difficult task that would require thousands of man-hours and hundreds of trained professionals, maybe employed on a nation-wide level, to take care of ?

    We have the solution ! It's called a DATABASE !

    A DATABASE can solve ALL your problems !

    The extreme processing power and efficiency of todays' hardware coupled with the data-mining techniques of a DATABASE means you can forget all about needing actual people who are trained and competent and spend entire months/years of their lives on a project.

    The DATABASE will be able to solve all of your pesky issues just as soon as you have accurately modeled your base environment.

    Looking for thieves ? Model your entire population and the DATABASE will find the culprits.

    Looking for terrorists ? Model your entire population and the DATABASE will single out those with murderous intentions.

    Looking for white-collar criminals ? Model your enti . . . ahem, please hold the line while our certified representative gets a hold of your nearest SWAT - uh - marketing team to outline for you the details of such a proposal.

    Don't forget : the DATABASE is the key to a future without any more problems !

    Especially for our company, that is.


  13. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Miracle solution found !

    DATABASE also reduces the five signs of ageing thanks to its polybentiline pentapeptides.

  14. Nick Sargeant
    Black Helicopters

    How can it possibly cost £12Bn?

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to turn the UK into an informant-based society? Give huge rewards to any information leading to the capture of terrorists? If we gave everyone who informed on a terrorist say half a million quid, we could bang up quite a few thousand for the same price. That might be a bigger, more effective deterrent.

    Of course these days I would want paying in gold bars .. none of your payments using BACS to an account of your choice ..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I love that word.

    Man will never walk on the moon,

    We'll not have a woman prime minister in my lifetime.

    We may not be able to do it now, but we will be able to do it in the future.

  16. radian

    überdatabase 'wouldn't spot terrorists'...

    It would if we all paid more tax. More tax = problem solved.

    Well that's what I've been led to believe anyway...

  17. Sergie Kaponitovicz

    The best form of defence

    is attack.

    That is a tactic first recorded in history by the Chinese.

    I am but a humble observer, with a slightly better than average grasp of IT, so am certainly no expert, but .....

    .... if every El Reg reader did a search on Al Quaida, terrorist, fundamentalist, Britney Spears and all other nasty search terms every day, and encouraged others to do the same, this would, surely, overload and confuse the UK STASI?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very useful database

    How else do you imagine you Jacqui can enforce her 'don't view dirty porn' law, unless she tracks every URL request, from everyone, all the time?

    Then there's the incitement laws, how can she prosecute incitement to *.* if people use anonymous coward identities? She can seize the IP address using RIPA, but what if the IP address is outside the UK and she has to convince a foreign judge she's not a barking loonie and he should issue a warrant? Such a think is not possible!, however with the new centralized database, she will be able to do it with a simple query.

    Then there's the police. What if the police refuse to enforce these ever more abstract and arbitrary laws? What then? Who will watch the watchers? Police forums have been highly critical of Ms Smiths work, and those cunning police men have been using pseudoymns too. Well the new database will be mined for signs of dissent among the police-force.

    The there's Parliament, the big hotbed of terrorism, who will make sure the MPs stay loyal to the NuLabour mantra? Again a big database of all MPs communications is needed.

    Yeh, you just need to view the world from Ms Smiths eyes to see how useful such a thing is.

  19. Cameron Colley

    pwn3d by morons.

    This is just another embarrassing step on the road to being totally pwn3d by the fuckwits in

    It seems that neither the weak nor the geek will inherit the earth -- the mass-murdering fucktards have won the game.

  20. Richard
    Black Helicopters

    A total waste of cash.

    So if you are a terrorist - are you going to use open comms links? 256bit AES encryption systems are easily and readily available for radio or mobile use - see

    No - I have no connection with the company, but gives an idea of what you can get. And as a Radio Amateur I thought that it was illegal to encrypt private traffic.

    Just another waste of hard-earned tax payers money.

    I can't wait to see Brown and his bunch of cronies chucked out of parliament.

  21. Andrew Fraser
    Thumb Up

    Can't be THAT hard, surely?

    SELECT a.*, b.*, c.*, d.* FROM

    tbl_landline a, tbl_mobile b, tbl_geographic c, tbl_phorm d

    WHERE = AND = AND = AND (a.call_transcript LIKE '%bomb%' OR b.call_transcript LIKE '%bomb%' OR ( = <latitude of potential target> AND c.long = <longitude of potential target>) OR d.search_query LIKE '%bomb%')

    All done. Can I have a small cut of that £12bn to offset my loss on Banking shares now please?


  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Terrorist - a person who terrorizes or frightens others. "

    So all the threatening being done by ironically about other people being terrorists makes our government just as much terrorists as these jihadists.

    ....or am thinking too simply and directly for the spin machine that is needed to dress all this up into the level of scare tactics we are subjected to today.

  23. Pierre

    US says UK is inefficient at finding real terr'ists?

    Oh-Kay. That's a lot of pot-bashing, mister kettle. On the other hand, I think I can admit that the US are indeed the best experts available in the not-able-to-catch-terrists field, which sorta give them the authority to make this kind of statements.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another fine mess you got me into

    So that will be a further £12bn of our money that's wasted on something that won't actually be effective.

    F**k me! Can we as a country really afford to keep blowing money like this?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you were MI5 or MI6 and you could dream a little, what would you dream of? You would dream of something that would make your job easier, a massive database combining data which is currently distributed all over the place in different forms, and all you would need to do is sit down at your computer terminal all day and run complex queries, get up to go for a cup of coffee a few times, eat lunch and have the odd pee or two.

    "Ah, wouldn't such a thing make our job a lot easier, what justification can we use? Ah..terrorism.., mention terrorism and people listen, funding is almost guaranteed".

    This is not about dealing with terrorims from islamic extremists, it's about making the security services job a lot easier.

    And then the Police will request access to the database and they'll get it. So the Police's job will be made much easier in dealing with any internet related crime, pornography, identity fraud and a whole host of other crimes where they want to build a case and just want to look into a person's background and see what they've been up to.

    Local government will request access to it to assist in benefit fraud and they'll get it.

    The Inland Revenue will ask for access to it and then cross reference it to the databases to which they already have access to on the Nectar/Loyalty cards and claim they want to look for benefit and tax fraud.

    And on and on it will go...

    Every time you access a dodgy website, you'll find your telephone conversations automatically monitored/recorded, your position every five minutes throughout the day as you walk around with your mobile phone in your pocket (even if turned off) will be logged and your whereabouts tracked.

    A proximity algorithm will be implemented that will identify any other mobile phone user that spends more than 30 seconds within 5 metres of you and their lives will be tracked too and calls, email all monitored.

    When you catch a flight, your details will be passed to the security services, when you drive up the motorway the ANPR cameras will track you and that data will be passed over to the new £12bn database.

    And who do you think is going to authorise this tracking and monitoring of you? A judge? Not a f****ng chance, (how many judges are security cleared? ) There's no way the security services are going to waste time and the inconvenience of filling in forms, contacting a judge and jumping through hoops and over hurdles to persuade a judge to give authorisation, they'll want to do it all automatically so they can track and monitor hundreds, thousands of people all at the same time without being delayed, stonewalled by judges expecting a justifiable case to be put together to warrant the monitoring operation.

  26. Kieron McCann

    Modeled on commercial fraud detection systems?

    So the idea is to model the system on today's successful fraud detection systems is it? Well my bank seems to phone me or cancel my debit and credit cards on a monthly basis. This it apparently due to such "suspicious" activities as:

    Making an online purcase

    Making an offline purchase

    Using your card in another country (I regularly visit such lawless states as France)

    Using your card at all.

    The consequences of these false positives is that I am usually without the use of a credit or debit card for about a week. The consequences of this super snooping database is that the police kick in my front door and hold me without charge for 42 days while they ransack my house to try pin something on me.

    This has gone too far

  27. Secretgeek
    Black Helicopters

    Almost 100% effective.

    I realy can't believe all the negative comments here. This database is an excellent idea. Of course it will catch terrorists. All you have to do is define your terrorist. Say, just for example, UK Gov feel that anyone saying something in a phone call or email along the lines of 'All fucking governments are a bunch of devious, manipulative bastards, simply out to propagate their own personal power and wealth at the expense of everyone they can and stamp on the face of everyone else.' Well quite blatantly that person wishes to promote disorder and chaos and should therefore be classed as a terrorist, with appropriate action taken.

    As for the minute percentage of terrorists that the system doesn't pick up, well obviously no system is 100% efficient and it is unfortunate that there would be civilian casualties from that. However, this will simply spur UK Gov to go to more vigourous lengths to promote any method that may improve their level of *control* sorry, watchfulness.

  28. Andrew Meredith

    Anybody ??

    The assembled company seems to feel a little sceptical about the lovely Ms. Smith's latest wet dream. I have to confess I'm a little anti myself.

    So .. Is there ANYONE out there who thinks this might be a good idea?

    Oh and the rest of you, BE NICE ;-)

  29. David Pollard

    Why £12 billion?

    Where does the £12 billion figure come from? Is it just coincidence that it's the same as the (present estimated) cost of the centralised NHS database, or a sign of 'me too' interdepartmental rivalry?

  30. Jimmy

    The devil makes work for idle hands.

    More terror, real terror, has been engendered in peoples lives by the prospect of losing their jobs, homes, savings, and investments, than was ever likely to be achieved by a bunch of deluded Jihadists. When you're dead, you're dead. When you are living in poverty, you're living in pain.

    Thanks to the government's abdication of responsibility when it abandoned regulation and oversight of the so-called 'wealth creators' we are now at the mercy of the real terrorists who were allowed to operate unhindered within our country. For this privileged elite their was to be no surveillance, no interception of communications, no restraints, no culpability, and no databases profiling every aspect of their lives.

    Having hived off the real business of government, management of the economy and the backbone infrastructure, they were left with plenty of time on their hands to concentrate on the tantalising prospect of micro-managing the lives of private citizens. For the New Labour ideologues this was the holy grail, the orgasmic wet-dream to end all others: intrusive eavesdropping, surveillance cameras, behavioural profiling, and the database state, with the added bonus that privileged stakeholders and partners could have access to the data for the purpose of further 'wealth creation'.

    Was that my alarm going off or was it just the bell for round two when the Tories will be dishing out more of the same shit?

  31. Drunken

    This will bite their creators

    While I agree partly with this statement

    "For this privileged elite their was to be no surveillance, no interception of communications, no restraints, no culpability, and no databases profiling every aspect of their lives.".

    I think it will only apply to a few like Rupert Murdoch.

    The "lowly" politicians" will not be so immune. Look at the past scandals uncovered about politicians when phone taps were tricky and few had computers. Who better to dig up some dirt on then the ones with the power! Every dodgy sexual relationship, financial deal and others will be up for grabs. The media will hold onto this and when the time suits them, totally destroy their reputation. Of course the politicians will not see it until it happens - but then it will be too late.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How they mislead us...

    into believing they will only use this for Terrorists. See how they used terrorism legislation

    against Iceland to freeze their money. They had sworn that legislation would only be

    used for terrorists. LIARS. See how all the Councils now use the RIPA Act to catch owners of

    dogs that foul the pavement. The Government said RIPA would only be used for terrorists.


    Do politicians ever tell the truth ?. NO.

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