back to article Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

A senior Vodafone network architecture specialist has been appointed by Jacqui Smith to draw up proposals for a multibillion pound central silo of communications data, amid a Whitehall row about the future of the project, The Register has learned. The Home Office team responsible for the Interception Modernisation Programme ( …


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  1. Xander
    Thumb Down

    "Public Consultation"?

    Don't make me laugh. Nuclear Power and ID Cards have shown what a joke these things are. If I remember rightly, an utter storm of "No" appeared around both but then they went ahead and did it anyway.

    Seriously, fuck labour.

  2. Scott

    I'm confused

    ...a number ending in Billion just so the unelected goverment can see who i've talked to, if they just asked me i can show 'em my itemised bill for say 10 million if they want?

  3. Dangermouse


    Good forecasting there, then.

    Never mind, my children's children's children can afford it. Trebles all round.

    I fucking hate this Government.

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Adding another String to the Bow ...... More Snouts in the Trough?

    A much more effective Yin to the complex Yang of a Snooping Total Information Awareness System, and something which ideally would Run in Real Time Parallel, would be to Supply a Covert Intelligence, which would be of Interest to Persons of Interest and have them reconsidering any possible, expected/extrapolated and unfortunate-for-them Move/Plan.

    Have the Intelligence Services learnt absolutely nothing from the Omagh bomb blast/Cock-up?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Roll back a few years

    What happened to the world...

    Just a few years back the world was up in arms about the FSB having a black-box in every Russian ISP. Geeks screaming, media fuming about Putin suppressing the freedom of the Internet in Russia.

    And now what?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    VPN ?

    So what's to stop a criminal using a VPN to simply bypass Jackboot Smith's logging Maginot Line ?

  7. John Murgatroyd

    Oh-my- ?

    Does this mean I will have to stop putting BOMB, HEROIN, DRUGS and ALQUOEDA at the end/start/middle of everything I type ?

  8. Alex
    Paris Hilton

    its for your own safety...

    if you've nothing to hide then you've nothing to fear.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @ Alex

    Surely you meant the Joke Alert icon???

    I hope.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I can't get my head arond why your government has such a mistrust of the citizens, 'specially when it comes to their use of technology. Back into your caves, you nasty serfs!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Unregistered PAYG

    The phone company's give away so many SIM cards nowadays that the uber database will be swamped with communications to whom they will not be able to attribute them to.

    What they need is an infinite amount of time and an infinite number of monkeys to do the leg work.

    Thinking about, they have the latter already, it's called the Government.

  12. Dan
    Black Helicopters


    "Public Consultation"? - Xander you took the words from my keyboard, except I was going to mention the public consultation around the Manchester congestion charge, for which they were promptly slapped with an 80% vote against last week. So they managed to only consult the other 20% then?

    @John Murgatrod - on the contrary, we should all START putting such keywords in every email we send and mentioning them at random in phone calls etc. The false positives should prove fun.

    If you decipher the crypto, did amanfrommars just say something sensible?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When did the ordinary man on the street become a threat to society?

    I wonder what the hell runs through their minds when they think it's OK to implement mass surveillance, just because the technology comes along to permit it?

  14. Steve

    Pointless exercise

    You have more chance of...

    Getting killed by a motorist.

    Winning the lotto.

    Getting struck by lightning.

    Or getting elected as an MP, than being affected by terrorism.

    Stop it Jacqui you are the new Mandy! You are a walking talking JOKE!

  15. Nic Brough
    Black Helicopters


    > if you've nothing to hide then you've nothing to fear

    Type it into a search engine. Read.

    If you still have nothing to hide afterwards, then I look forward to receiving a copies of your most recent credit card bill, banks statement, and passport. When are you taking down the curtains in your house?

  16. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    Encrypted VOIP apps

    It's the way forward.

  17. Tony


    surely you mean 'data whorehouse'?

  18. this

    The real worry

    is that they may have hired someone who actually understands this stuff.

  19. Matt Vernon
    Black Helicopters


    "The probes would populate a pilot central database with details of who communicates with whom, when and where."

    Just finished reading Ben Eltons "Blind Faith"... this seems horrifyingly familiar....

  20. Geoff Mackenzie

    No problem

    $ sudo /etc/init.d/tor start

  21. oliver Stieber
    Thumb Down

    I can't get my head arond why your government has such a mistrust of the citizens

    It's obvious, the citizens voted them into power, I wouldn't trust anyone who voted this government into power and neither apparently do they.

  22. Luther Blissett

    Nu labour working at playing (not paying) God

    It would seem from the available details that what this system really allows the spooks to do better is drink coffee, play cards, watch DVDs, etc all day, and have the computer page them when someone of interest is making a call. Rather than having spooks sitting around all day plugged into a line in the hope that someone will ring, while drinking coffee, playing cards, watching DVDs, etc and thereby being too shagged out to pay attention to what's being said when that call finally comes. But at a lunatic price. How so?

    Remember one Tony Bliar? Everyone's friend, Tony would say different things to his friends, and the same thing to his enemies, tho' not necessarily the same thing to friends and enemies, all within the space of 15 minutes. This behaviour has become institutionalized under Moses/Superman/Trousers. So the spooks come along, appeal to nu labour's underlying insecurities, and behold, a database is born. It's the other side of the spooky nu labour covert gerrymandering policy. It would seem.

    "Ask and ye shall receive" - Jesus, I believe. Not far from Moses. (Tho that depends, as the Irishman said, on where you start),

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    She's just a bunny boiler, stalking the entire nation...

    Can we just have a central database of which dismembered voices are communicating to Jacqui Smith, when and where, and leave everyone else alone? Then maybe some doctors could help her stop doing the same stupid things over and over again, while imagining that the public have been running up to her in the street and telling her it was what they always wanted.

  24. John Murgatroyd

    I care ? Not ?

    Bang: Bomb: Drugs:

    Do I care ?

    Not much.

    I do wonder though when people (generally) are going to realise that the government cares [not a jot] about the people, and that the measures (ranging from databases of personal stuff to id cards to cctv) are not to protect US, but to protect THEM FROM US.

    I will try not to mention road-pricing, with its attendant need to know where every vehicle is, and when.

    The same way I will try not to mention....

    Bang. Drug. Bomb. Stupid Politicians.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    memo to Tim Hayward

    A word to Tim Hayward from someone who once worked with him

    Oh Boy have you made a wrong decision this time. I thought that going to work for Vodafone was bad enough....

    Another Government IT Project that will die an ungraceful death after the next election.

  26. Dave
    Thumb Down

    Public consultation indeed...

    ...what they actually mean is that; there is no need for any more involvement of the public, the Government knows best and so they are going ahead anyway. And now that companies and people are digging into the gravy train, does anyone seriously think that it would be de-railed at all? No thought not!

    Instead "they" will just go ahead with total disregard to every single person in the UK. I've said it before, and I will say it again: I am SO glad I left the fucked up country that is Blighty. I wonder how long it will be before you need permission to leave with a limited stay??

    @AC: Unregistered PAYG

    I seem to recall that the plans would make it mandatory to present photo-id (e.g. passport, national ID card) before acquiring a PAYG SIM and that you would have to register it at the place of purchase. Presumably all existing PAYG SIMS would be disconnected to force people into re-registering. Yeah I know, I can see that one *REALLY* happening (</sarcasm>) but I wouldn't put it past El' Gov to try!!

  27. The Other Steve


    Ah yes, but then you make it obvious that you have something to hide, especially if your VPN tunnel is to an offshore server (remember "they" can still see the dest IP for the tunnel) .

    And then you will become a Person Of Interest, because only paedos, drug pushers and terrorists have something to hide.

    In order to determine which one you are so that you can be properly punished, pour encourage les outres, the rest of your traffic data, including your location as supplied by the mobile phone companies, will be mined for behavioural anomalies. Possibly all the way up to a real time tap on all your comms, and if they're _all_ encrypted to a fare thee well, you can expect a court order for the keys, penalty for non compliance* is detention at one of Brenda's finest prisons.

    After all, if you've nothing to hide...

    *Or disclosure of having received the notice, which is the part of RIPA that is _really_ nasty.

  28. RichyS
    Black Helicopters

    @Unregistered PAYG

    Obviously you'll need you ID card to buy a PAYG phone in Wacky Jacquie's utopian future-world.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unelected government Scott?

    You really are confused. I guess John Major's 1990 government was unelected too. John didn't even win the Tory leadership vote :)

  30. Anonymous Coward

    not funny

    'Jacqui Smith ordered them to consider all options, including the possibility that no new system will be authorised.'


    Seriously, I've laughed before at what wacqui Jacqui has said but this has to be blatant ass-covering, so she can show the world that other options were considered before it went ahead.

    I cannot imagine the consultants faced with the choice between sticking their heads in the trough for years to come for n billions, or getting only the initial investigation fee, picking the latter.

    It's not as if consultant positions are two-a-penny in the current economic climate is it; and even if they suddenly developed scruples, it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

  31. RogueElement
    Thumb Down


    Nanny Slut Whore Bitch Liar.

    The remainder of this exceptionally long diatribe was removed because it was offensive.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The value of privacy

    Bruce Schneier

  33. Andy

    If you have nothing to hide...

    ...then you have nothing.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Thinking Long And Hard

    It will only catch the incredibly stupid. Who probably need to be caught but let me ask a horrible question. Tech-literate folk like ElReg readers - if they want to set up a terrorist cell, is there fuck-all that central government snooping can do about it? Even uber-spook paranoia stories of black quantum-computer projects don't cut the mustard for a reason for us-potential-terrorists to be scared?

    The incredibly stupid leave a trail in the real world that pc plod should pick up. Uber-databases might pick them up but it's a blunt force instrument compared to looking at fertliser sales. And your uber-database isn't going to pick up when I mount a revolution. It's not going to pick up when I sent my signal to rise up via crypto-stenography on Richard's Realm. It's not going to pick up home-brew discarding sabot via 12 bore shotgun type weapons with the choke removed. Which punch a hole through anything up to a MBT.

    Next, we'll see the return of internment and the creation of martyrs to causes that have very little sympathy except that when government try to surpress them, they generate huge sympathy.

    Wacqui-Jacqui's knee-jerk reactions don't solve any problems. All they do is pander to the Daily Fail mentality. Stuff that is worth doing will not be talked about. And I'm surprised in a way that there is talk. At my most generous, I can imagine that talking about stuff is a diversion from the real stuff that is going on, but "no comment - on the grounds of national security" is cheaper and more effective. Telling a potential terrorist what you know you know is just asking them to circumvent that.

    Bah. Come the revolution, I know who is first up against the wall. Fnord.

  35. Nebulo
    Thumb Down

    The Enemy Within

    When Thatcher chose to use that phrase to describe the (then) Labour Party, it was as big a POS as everything else she ever did or said, since her own crowd of cronies fitted the name so much more convincingly.

    But good old "New" "Labour" are really showing that they have what it takes to earn the title. And the truly terrifying thing is that they are allegedly moving UP in popularity, which means that their monstrous plans may yet prevail against all reason.

    Bring on Jefferson Airplane's "three hundred master computer killers". The time is soon.

  36. Sam Liddicott
    Thumb Down

    official secrets act?

    Me thinks we need an unofficial secrets act to stop these un-british politicians from disclosing our personal lives to eachother.

    Does Jacqui Snooper Smith not have big nough net curtains or something?


  37. Nev

    Guy Fawkes had it right.

    Jacqui needs to be whacked.

    Mine's the black cloak and with the mask.

  38. N
    Thumb Down

    Labour Government

    Should only be experienced once in a lifetime & thats once too many.

    Tell your children & tell your childrens children that what ever they do


  39. Watashi

    If you have nothing to fear...'re on the wrong side.

  40. Jay
    Thumb Down

    It constantly amazes me...

    ...the things people will do for money. Why anyone would want to sell their own freedom for a wage completely escapes me.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Unelected government Scott?

    Indeed unelected, and blocked handing out nomination papers at the last conference because he couldn't face the vote of his own party.

    Nothing he does has any democratic credibility if he can't face the democratic vote. Jacqui is only holding onto power because she's loyal and not a threat to him.

  42. Skyraker

    How much Data?

    Can someone who isn't half cut give us an idea of how much data would be generated in one day ?

    I also hate this fucking government.... mind you , i'd shag Caroline flint.

  43. wsm


    How could anyone object if you could get George Smiley to run it all? No one would notice the difference between with and without the spy network. Nothing to fear here, move along...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they lose all the data?

    Given the wonderful record the British Civil Service have with data security, I suppose they'll just put everyone's phone records onto a Blueray disk and post it to a random grandmother in the Midlands. She will only realise what it is when her nephew, who happens to be a Sun journalist finds it being used as a coaster on her coffee table.

  45. Mike Richards Silver badge


    With the productive part of the economy seriously screwed by the non-productive part (New Labour and investment banking alike); there's soon going to be millions of people out of work and desperately needing new forms of employment.

    And what better way than having the jobless pressed into service snooping on all our phone calls, IMs and web surfing? Even better, single mums will be able to spy on people from the comfort of their own homes - so no need to pay child care.

    In Jacqui's world, every day will be like waking up in Pyongyang without the Dear Leader's sense of whimsy.

  46. Marvin the Martian

    @steve: please show me the math

    <<You have more chance of... getting elected as an MP, than being affected by terrorism.>>

    Please show me the numbers over the last 10 year, with special attention to adding, oh, families involved in the july bombings, and brazilian electricians. Before that dateline a more Irish accent would weigh through I fear. Somehow think you've seen less than 10 PM's last 10 years.

    You, sir, are an idiot and a prat.

  47. Suburban Inmate

    I'm already digging my escape tunnel.

    This government is carrying out and intensifying counter-insurgency (read: anti-democracy) operations. Seems the psyops are working wonderfully. When was the last proper riot we had?

    A total surveillance system is only one brick in the gulag wall.

    Sad face, because that's all the dissent we're allowed.

  48. Jimmy

    Tlm Hayward, your work is done!

    It's never a good career move to embark on one of Jacqui Smith's vanity projects - as others have discovered to their cost. But given that in the midst of a government inspired economic meltdown there isn't really a big market for system architects, nobody will blame you for signing up to this roller-coaster ride.

    You should be aware of the extensive research carried out at Microsoft Research Labs by Horvitz and Leskovec in 2006-7 which clearly shows that in a wired world we are all connected to each other by no more than a few tenuous links. A summary of their work is given in this quote from a Guardian article:

    "Researchers Eric Horvitz and Jure Leskovec used records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people in various countries to establish a database that logged all Microsoft Messenger traffic for 2006. They considered two people to be acquaintances if they had sent one another a message, and looked at the minimum chain lengths it would take to connect 180 billion different pairs of users in the database. They found that the average length was 6.6 hops, and that 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer. But some were separated by as many as 29 steps.

    This research confirms the work of others in the field and is also applicable to e-mail and other forms of communications."

    The original research paper is available here:

    So how does this play out against the government's proposal to create an ever expanding superdatabase that will be continuously crawled over and analysed in an attempt to identify suspicious communication linkages? Well, once you throw the 30 billion spam messages that are automatically generated each day into the melting pot, it doesn't take an Albert Einstein to work out that the number of 'false positives' generated will very quickly overwhelm the resources of the UK Security Services, to say nothing of the storage capacity of the database. Have a nice day, Tim.

    El Reg readers feel free to contact your MP and advise him that he has been put on a watch-list for having known links to paedophiles in Peckham, pornographers in Prestatyn, pederasts in Picadilly and prostitutes in Perth. If your MP is of the NuLabour persuasion don't even bother, they're all in another movie - Silence of the Lambs.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC, PAYG

    "The phone company's give away so many SIM cards nowadays that the uber database will be swamped with communications to whom they will not be able to attribute them to."

    There's an easy way to close that loop hole, the british government will just do what they're trying to do in Pakistan right now, stop the sale of unregistered SIMS, pass legislation that requires every SIM purchaser to prove who they are.

    And when the ID card is fully in use, you can bet your bottom dollar the presentation of this in order to make any phone purchase will be mandatory.

    And then force telco's to bar any telephone devices using unregistered SIMS from connecting to their network.

    Would cause a bit of a problem with international mobile phones though.

    They'll close the loop holes.

  50. Clint Sharp
    Paris Hilton

    Too much.

    Will I have all my comms monitored because I happened to have spoken to someone who is a criminal or someone who happens to be suspected of being a criminal?

    The phrase 'if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear is sounding more and more like Stalinist propaganda every week now, the sooner this bunch of control freaks and incompetents are kicked out of office the better say I. Wacqui Jacqui is overdue a good twatdangling IMHO.

    Paris, at least I'd enjoy getting fucked over by her.

  51. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Cry me a River ....

    "Sad face, because that's all the dissent we're allowed."..... By Suburban Inmate Posted Friday 19th December 2008 19:52 GMT

    Suburban Inmate,

    Do not make a prisoner of yourself, for whomever you may identify as having that power over you, does not really have such power and is therefore just a figment of your imagination. It is though a facet of human nature/control programming which can be and is easily used and consistently abused, by probably more/no more than just a few who really should know better/beta, for various selfish and nefarious ends.

    The tide of that flow has changed quite dramatically though in recent times and as it recedes, does IT leave them high and dry and XXXXPosed on the empty beach of their own making. And easy prey for every hungry scavenger and rabid dog of war, which many would posit is Sweet Natural Justice...... Desserts in AIdDesert.

    Total Informational Awareness ..... the Impossible Dream or an ESPecial Application for ProgramMIng?

    The not-so-crazy-as-you-thought-or-think Alien Posit is that it is the Latter, and therefore easily Shared via Hosting Servers with Appropriate and/or Applicable Sovereign Wealth Credentials and Aspirational Future Infrastructures ...... for Pukka Intellectual Property Management of Perception, which is the sort of thing you can read extensively about on Dubai Media City and Mubadala pages.

    You'll hardly find anything in Wacky Jacqui's Noggin to match ITs Scope, I'll gladly wager..... and that may even suggests that the Cosseted Closet of Cabinet Government is also Barren and Intellectually Challenged, as it is being so here done, on these Registered ITThreads.

    HM XPects them to Rise to the Challenge and Engage/Lock Horns or Retire from the Field, Cowed/Bowed/Defeated/Disgraced?

  52. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Hooked and Hopelessly Dependent....?

    "Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions lists prohibited acts by parties to the convention. Such acts are-

    * Violence to life and person, in particular, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture.

    * Taking of hostages.

    * Outrages against personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

    * Passing out sentences and carrying out executions without previous judgment by a regularly constituted court that affords all the official guarantees that are recog-nized as indispensable by civilized people.

    * The provisions in the above paragraph represent a level of conduct that the United States expects each foreign country to observe. " .....

    That must be uncomfortable reading for some, who may have condoned/turned a blind eye and deaf ear to obvious abuses whilst being signed up to Convention. And the fact that the abuse is tolerated and even sanctioned makes it not even worth the paper it may be written on. But then war is a silly game played by mad men and fools alike at the expense of duped heroes and innocent souls.

    To choose it as an option, whenever there are countless other alternative ploys, suggests a lack of intelligence and/or a national greed/need for foreign resources that a country cannot afford or afford to lose.

    With Afghanistan's major export being what it is, that makes for Junk Bonds for any that would buy Treasury debt .... supporting Attack.

  53. Ted Treen
    Thumb Up


    A resurrection of Wat Tyler or Jack Cade would be timely...

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