back to article ISPs frosty on Jacqui's comms surveillance plan

Jacqui Smith's plan to have ISPs create an enormous federated database of all online communications is receiving a frosty reception from the industry, multiple sources have revealed. Many internet providers are unhappy that Smith plans to order them to retain complete details of who contacts whom, when, where and how. She …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scrap This Absurd and Stasi-Like Intrusion!

    It is time this project was scrapped. I think on cost grounds alone there is a good excuse to stop. How many terrorists would it catch? Very few. However, I think it would certainly be used for fishing expeditions by the authorities- why else would it be set up without judicial oversight? The current system is best as it forces law enforcement to get the proper paperwork. Without it there'd be no checks and balances. Mere suspicion (often unfounded as in the case of the 'Easter bombers' who weren't) will be enough to get you surveilled. This project won't be derailed by Jacqui's departure; it's more important than any one politician.

  2. Scott
    Thumb Down


    If i was an ISP i'd tell them that if they can't even work out there expenses correctly what chance the good old Gov.UK has there figures right?

    2 billion over 10 years seems peanuts and good old Jacki running around blindly as usual when it comes to the internet thinks this will cover it ( and when it turns out that it will cost 10 times this amount who foots the bill, oh yer me because she was so stupid and did her usual and ignored all sound advice and did it anyway) does anyone know who gives these nutters these ideas?

    The best news i heard though was good old Gordo is staying on i say keep him for the next 20 years as no one will vote for a party run by this spineless idiot, Vote Green, Free the Weed!!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Why am I not surprised...

    "ISPs are worried that the Home Office does not understand the scale of the technical challenge involved in monitoring and storing data on every communication via the internet. They fear the spiralling costs associated with government IT projects and resent being forced to devote resources to the plans."

    Someone here is not playing with a straight bat.

    ISPs worry that savvy consumers will shop around and the churn cost & bad publicity will increase .or. ISPs use different consultants to the Government/Whitehall to tell them what can be done .or. ISPs can do it and want paying again by the public purse for the data they're extracting from public taxpayer anyway .or. ISPs fear that in the longterm FoI requests will show them and the government up for the cheating twofaced chiselers they are .or. "fill in your own reason".

    That the Government/Whitehall couldn't control a kiddies pedal cart, never mind the IT/ID juggernaught they've set in motion, should surprise no one.

    Piss people off, yes indeedy it does for this little voter.

  4. Wize

    I can imagine all the anonymouse proxys being set up... us a secure connection to a point in another country which doesn't watch everyone so much.

  5. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    Black Helicopters

    Stating the bloody obvious...

    "ISPs are worried that the Home Office does not understand the scale of the technical challenge involved in monitoring and storing data on every communication via the internet."

    Well, that *WOULD* be a surprise if they're not understanding it, after all, they've shown such acumen in the past over at!

    If the ISPs manage to block this, I might not rant about their "unlimited use (subject to terms and conditions that we're not going to tell you)" adverts quite as much...

  6. James
    Thumb Up

    What a great boost ...

    .. for the Post Office !

    It'll soon become the most secure way of communicating - Can't see anyone willing to steam open billions of letters a year ......

  7. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Home Office without a clue, yet again...

    ... maybe they'll actually *listen* for once, though, if industry says "no way in hell"...

  8. KazR
    Black Helicopters

    If this ever happens....

    it won't be long before a P2P app is created that will make the info gathered on the wire totally useless. All it has to do is create numerous connections to peers, send some random data and close the connection, repeat.

  9. Chris

    NAZI Government can keep its grubby paws off my data...

    Yes that's right, NAZI government can keep its paws off my personal data & communications. ISP's will get my full support if they all stick together and say no.. What can the government do, arrest them all.

  10. Nick L

    Jaqui's opportunistic whackiness

    And how exactly is deep packet inspection going to reveal the contents of SSL/TLS encrypted streams ? Unix users have had Opportunistic Encryption for years of course, but it's about time someone wrote an opportunistic encryption module for Windows. Then anyone can have the ability can make a secure connection direct to any $REMOTE_SERVER that advertises an OE capability, regardless of whether the application protocol is encrypted or not.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liability or cost

    If they accept the money for the government to build the surveillance database, they are agents acting on behalf of the government. The requirement to only hand data over in specific cases (in the EU data retention directive) is not met. The data is handed to paid agents of the government always for everyone all the time.

    If it's not legal and ISPs do it anyway then they make themselves liable.

    It makes no difference whether a CENTRAL database is created under a managing agent of the government, or a DISTRIBUTED database is created with the ISPs acting as managing agents. It's still data from an ISP to an agent of the Government, even if the agent is the ISP itself.

    Do MPs fancy having all their communications monitored by a Chief Constable like Bob Quick on a whim? Do MPs fancy Bob popping into the Home Office for meetings with Jacqui Smith with a big thick file of their communications under his arm, to keep the Home Office up to date?

  12. Danny


    She is being fired on Monday morning - sorry 'has entered into an agreement with the PM' ROFLMAO

    This calls for a National Holiday!

  13. NB
    Paris Hilton

    @graham marsden

    I really admire your optimism. Shall we review this governments track record on listening to the legitimate concerns of groups that know infinitely more about the area of proposed legislation than said government? No? Fair enough, the conclusion is pretty foregone anyway.

    Paris, cos she knows more about the power of the internet than these whitehall wankers

  14. Tom Chiverton Silver badge


    Err, they have. It's called Tor.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Bloody politicians.

    "ISPs are worried that the Home Office does not understand the scale of the technical challenge involved in monitoring and storing data on every communication via the internet."

    Of course the Government don't understand. They have no clue about anything at all this lot. And I thought the last lot were bad.

    The older I get the more I'm convinced that politicians, are, by their very nature, technically incompetent, morally challenged, money grabbing, useless bastards who only support their own, selfish and extreme agendas.

    Unfortunately, sensible, learned, intellectually developed, moral, moderate people don't go into politics. Mark Steel had a great idea about anyone wanting to be a politician should be banned from being one. With the exception of Liberal Democrats. Anyone wanting to be a LD must be OK as they must surely know they'll never get any real power.

  16. Cucumber C Face

    Breaking news: there is a God

    "Jacqui Smith 'to resign as home secretary' as expenses row continues"

    There she is getting her coat - it's the one with the dodgy expense claims and Stasi membership card in the pocket.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Just heard that Wacqui is resigning as Home Secretary. Wooo, and indeed, hoo!

  18. Anonymous John


    She's staanding down after the nest reshuffle.

  19. Flugal
    Thumb Up

    A great day!

    Wahoo \o/

    Good riddance to complete shit.

  20. Jamie Kitson

    @Tom Chiverton

    Don't think Tor does what KazR describes. Tor is for anonymity, I think KazR was describing flooding the network with meaningless packets.

    And yes, it seems Jacqui will be gone within a week, and too hopefully will be the wackiness.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orange said ...

    Orange said: "Orange wishes to ensure that any future proposals in maintaining the use of communications data in this arena are proportionate and with a legal basis and has appropriate safeguards to ensure the protection and security of our customers' data."

    Translation: Orange said "we're not doing this, and we're definitely not paying for this with our money, unless there's something worthwhile in it for us. Anyone got Kent Phorm's mobile number?"

  22. Dave Stark
    Thumb Up

    Jacqui's oot!

    According to Auntie, she's slinging her proverbial. And there was much rejoicing!

    Bye bye Jacqui. You won't be missed.

  23. Ash
    Thumb Up


    I... I...

    I could cry right now.

    Thank you.

  24. Eponymous Cowherd

    Re: SHE HAS GONE!!!

    ***"This calls for a National Holiday!"***

    I wouldn't bother

    Blunkett, Clarke, Reid and Smith. All dedicated their time in office to increasing the oppression and surveillance of the UK population. What makes you think the next dickhead* to hold this post will be any different?

    * appointed by Brown, ergo dickhead.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There are reports she is to stand down now anyway, first good thing Gordon Brown has done, a little late though, the rest of us knew she useless from the start!

  26. Pyrrho Huxley

    Great for private VPNs

    Wacky's petty-Stalinist plans are great for the vendors of private VPNs. Time to invest, methinks.

  27. Tony Paulazzo

    @ SHE HAS GONE!!!

    Let's just hope and pray that whoever replaces her is less Shadow like and more Vorlon.

  28. John Bayly


    You've just made my day for telling me that. I did have to check a "legit" news service to verify though.

    It'll be interesting to see who takes over, and whether they'll continue the insane policies she's been so proud of.

  29. David Webb


    Odds are a system like this would be used for vetting people into government jobs too, like a teacher. Teacher been using IM? Better check to make sure no one on their friends list is under the age of 18.... Been using myspace? Better check none of their contacts are under 21!

    I actually have an idea which will nix the entire thing. Someone start up an email service where you pay 1p to send an email, which affixes a stamp on the email of the queens head. Then it should be classed as normal mail which would protect it, its illegal to intercept the queens mail (all mail is, iirc, the property of the queen) so they would require a warrant every time they wanted to examine your email. May work.

  30. Man Outraged
    Thumb Up

    BBC and SKY reporting she's going - more of the same?

    BBC and SKY reporting she's going - can we expect more of the same from the identikit replacement liebore politicians or will we finally get a Home Secretary with some balls to stand up to the incessant demands for power from MI5/6, APCO and unelected civil servants?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Tom Chiverton

    As long as you don't operate a Tor exit node. If you do her wacquiness' spy kit will record *you* as visiting any terrorist / pron / kiddie-fiddler sites visited by users that exit through your node.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If anything demands Playmobil it is the moment Jaqui got whacked out of office.

  33. Metalattakk

    @ Danny

    Aye, but which utter nut-job will replace her?

  34. Tony

    @SHE HAS GONE!!!

    Well, it's a start.

    If Gordon really wants to cheer the nation up, he should have a word with the Russians and see if they have a spare rocket we can strap her and the rest of the cabinet to, along with enough fuel to get it to the sun.

  35. Chika


    Given that we have been finding out how untrustworthy politicians have been over the last few weeks, why on earth would I trust them with details of my own net habits?


    Good to hear!

  36. Ed

    Re. her resignation.

    It's good news, but all of these plans will continue regardless of who is Home Secretary. I also doubt that very much will change even if the current lot lose the next general election.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: SHE HAS GONE!!!

    Indeed she has!

    However, I do find it sad that she resigned over the expenses silliness rather than the more serious lack of competence.

  38. Cameron Colley


    While I'm one of the many who will be singing "Ding dong, the witch is dead" if she does go -- I fear her replacement may be just as bad.

  39. Billy

    Jacqui - gone

    She's standing down, according to the beeb :

    Nick L : Windows has an opportunistic encryption module afaik, ships by default with the OS I think.

  40. CockKnocker

    shes going?

    Praise be! The mad witch is off! There are no words to express my relief that she is going but may she burn in hell. I feel a few celebratory beers coming on!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Since she's just resigned ( or at least about to ) this might be put on the backburner for a while....

  42. amanfromMars Silver badge

    The worm has turned ...... now server the people's needs for free with .....

    .....the money they allow you to print and which you would abuse and pay yourselves with, so selfishly and lavishly.

    Governments, and all those little gangs within Administrations which server Governments ideas [Civil Services] are realising that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant and powerless in a globally connected 24/7 age....... which can so easily expose their lack of Intelligence and leadership, and all of their personal secrets, with the simple placement of a more relevant/an alternate relevant fact which they studiously avoid confronting and commenting on. All credibility on anything that they might then say is lost as they have proven themselves to be less than honestly forthright with an opinion worth sharing and thus have they branded themselves as being devious.

    Invariably a question asked and not answered for further investigation indicates a fault line which will render a vulnerability to easily crash a flawed program/project ....... which is serving a hidden agenda which would not be publicly tolerated.

    But then Life is such a Bitch ........ with every day being best imagined as a Neureal SurReal Start rather than a Continuation of the Past Servering Past Masters for their Convenience.

    Is General Motors not now a communist/socialist enterprise, which proves, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the capitalist system is fatally flawed?

  43. James
    Paris Hilton

    I know what I'm doign when it goes live

    I'm going to have a small script running that sends as many emails from me to me as possible, then then deletes them from my account.

    Preferably with a 9.99MB file attached, say a vid of jacki smith saying how this will help and the text with some key words like


    in it for good measure.

    Wonder how long it would take my ISP to give up and cry...

    Paris - because we all want to see her emails get leaked - again...

  44. Mark

    It is all a big waste of time

    I spent some time going working with a network attached anti virus device that would scan all traffic coming through it for potential virus' and various malware.

    The idea was brilliant, but there was one glaring little hole that didn't get mentioned much.... SSL.

    Any data that came through an SSL connection was encrypted so we couldn't scan it to see if it contained malware unless we decrypted it first. It is possible to decrypt data, but it takes time and effort and is not feasible to do to all traffic so anything that came through SSL was ignored.

    I would suggest that if this ever takes off everybody will just start using encrypted connections. The ISP's could log it, but it would be bloody meaningless to anybody unless they sat there for a few years decrypting it all (512bit encryption takes a while to break through and everybody can have it nowadays).

    After randomly trying to go through a few peoples data and coming up with nothing they will probably give up dur to the prohibitive cost. Or they will demand the ISP's decrypt the data as well and watch them all go out of business....

    Another well thought out idea by the Home Office.....

  45. Martin
    Thumb Up

    Ding Dong the Witch is dead

    This calls for a drink to celebrate.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The only thing is....

    ...who do we CC our emails to now on June 15th?

  47. Oliver
    Paris Hilton

    Letters safe? Don't bet on it!

    @ James Posted Tuesday 2nd June 2009 11:48 GMT

    "Can't see anyone willing to steam open billions of letters a year ......"

    That never stopped the Stasi! And this govt is in that league!

    Paris: 'cause she's familiar with packet inspection

  48. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good news week

    The whackster herself is departing......

    : )

  49. Brentonian

    what would be the point.

    It would be bloody easy to get round this sort of monitoring.

    Even if you did something visible I have 3 unlocked wi-fi points within range of my flat so that would be plan A,

    Plan B , download a wi-fi sniffer and then get access. 'cough' so I have been told, by a fat bloke down the pub.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    By Wize Posted Tuesday 2nd June 2009 11:41 GMT us a secure connection to a point in another country which doesn't watch everyone so much.

    Like Iran!!!

    As for WJ, she is just one more to drink from the poisoned chalice, they have all tried to out do their predecessor at the expense of the citizen, we shall not forget them come voting day.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Vote Green, Free the Weed!!!!

    Seconded, motion carried

  52. Anonymous Coward

    @all celebrants of the demise of the bitch

    Don't be too happy. The fact that she's going is just temporary good news. The next one in will be "advised" by the same unelected self-serving bureaucrats that guided her into the ludicrous policies she espoused.

    All that is going to happen is that someone with a different way of spinning the same shit is going to replace her. Don't expect any serious changes in the long run. Just enjoy the moment.

    Can we have a "hands off my data" icon please?

  53. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    Gates Horns

    Web Browsing?

    Hang on a minute, I've read both the Statutory Instrument and the EU Directive, and neither mention logging web browsing histories for users, nor tying these to specific IP addresses etc. Is this actually in the law, or are we seeing a spot of post-boozy-lunchtime journalistic licence here?

  54. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Web Browsing?

    No Dan, the Interception Modernisation Programme and Mastering the Internet are separate from the EU data retention directive and far further reaching.

    IMP is likely to require new primary legislation, which hasn't been written yet. I suggest you read the consultation, linked to in the story. Best,

    - Chris Williams

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tony Paulazzo

    'Let's just hope and pray that whoever replaces her is less Shadow like and more Vorlon.'

    You mean unintelligible and dresses in a shower curtain? Is that a cry for Anne 'shackle 'em' Widdecombe to become Home Secretary?

  56. Brezin Bardout

    Nothing to hide?

    I thought the whole point of this was to keep a record of who with and when people have communicated. Surely all this talk of encryption would just make things worse. If you use encryption to communicate and it just happens that you have done so with someone the government or police have decided is a terrorist or whatever, do you honestly think they will settle for an explanation of 'well I was just doing it to be awkward because I dont like being spied on'? At the very least you're going to have to go through some sort of investigation while they drag anything they can find up.


    With a government like this, if you have nothing to hide, then don't.

  57. Mo

    My draft response to the proposals

    (to be submitted this week, hopefully)

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "create an enormous federated database "

    I read this as enormous fellated database; and immediately thought: that sucks!

    "About 40 per cent of ISPs at the event said they did not currently have the capability to store the data."

    And the other 60% have storage for all that? WTF?

    "proportionate and with a legal basis and has appropriate safeguards"

    erm, yeah; good luck with that with this bunch of hooligans.

    @Chris - What can the government do, arrest them all.

    They don't need to arrest everyone; just the heads of the largest ISPs that refuse. A little off-shore vacation at Gitmo and they'll change their minds and fall right in line with party think.

    @NB - whitehall wankers

    well, at least we know HOW they got white...ewwwwww

    @Tony - spare rocket we can strap her and the rest of the cabinet to

    Unfortunately, she'll be the one riding the warhead back down to earth

    Now, why do I have the feeling that the wacqui one is like a whack-a-mole?

  59. Keith T

    Politicians are the ones who will pay the price for this spying

    Politicians are the ones who will pay the price for this spying -- not just opposition politicians, not just future politicians, but even current politicians from the government party.

    This spying will make them vulnerable to blackmail by police and intelligence agencies.

    Read up on former long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover for an example of how successful this can be, and how long it can endure without the public knowing.

    Of course this assumes that police and intelligence agencies aren't using blackmail to get this surveillance put in place. Maybe it is already too late.

  60. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    I have read the consultation document

    I note the Government are dead keen on getting all each CSP's (that's Internet, phone and mobile providers whatever they actually do) data queued up together so they can anwer *any* request instantly.

    OTOH they admit most of this data will *never* be accessed.

    So why should any CSP tie each and every item moving across their network to a user? I find it very hard to believe that it is less processor intensive to this than an on-demand build of 1 users data as (and *if*) its asked for.

    Lets's hope the CSP's stand their ground. Let's get the All Party Internet Group involved if possible. CSP's need to decide are they broadcasters (who are responsible for what they transmit) or common carriers (telephone companies) who basically are not.

    I will definitely be replying to this. On paper. Just to make sure it is received in its entirety.

  61. Pete

    It all comes down to the fact that

    our administrators in govt have a fetish to print off the whole internet.

    Tell them no, peacefully, tell them why, and refuse to pay them.


  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the data will be stored on a big mother ship in the sky

    The government knows everyone in Britain is up to something; and they won't stop until everyone of you is behind bars! I think this is really a big smoke screen to hide where the real crooks government !

  63. Florence Stanfield
    Thumb Down

    Should be scrapped and their right to claim expensis scrapped.

    Workers on low pay around me that work for council are having a paycut while all bills still rise. Are the Government MP and all councillors also having a pay cut?

    Time to see Brown and all he placed in power to follow Jaqui lets see if they have the balls to go or is this why thye forcing us into the police state to keep themselves on the gravy train.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    the worse thing about all this is...

    ... it is entirely probable to make it all up - who said what = A,B,C... and it can be fabricated ad-hoc in such a way that the numpties who are in the position of deciding whether person under review is perp or saint, wouldn't have a friggin clue. And therein lies the danger. Now doesn't that add up to a serious load of power in ISP-Land... shit oh dear, who couldn't you stitch up?

    On the subject of JS as HomeSec: Jacqui Smith is but one of 000's in Govt who are asked to agree on the effectiveness of something based on esoteric and abstract concepts, that they barely grasp, and then avoid asking deep questions since they're surrounded by public-service twats who tell them not to query anything otherwise it makes them look stupid. Much like Geoff Hoon - how good a modified landrover will handle landmines is based on the smoothness of the steel jerry-can or the jaunty angle of the drivers helmet.

    [throughly recommend: Nowhere to Hide by Robert O'Harrow... just be glad you're not in the USA]

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    spam might help stop this

    spam is easy for me to filter as i know my friends and work contacts isp and the goverment can not filter them the same way and they can only store so much so the more spam the harder it is for them. stop this big brother gone mad.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like