back to article GCHQ outsources net snooping... to EDS

The government has outsourced parts of its biggest ever mass surveillance project to the disaster-prone IT services giant formerly known as EDS, The Register has learned. HP contractors are busily helping GCHQ build systems to allow data mining of every communication online, even though the government's response to a limited …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what EDS write.......

    on the tender document in the section about previous similar successful projects?

    How does a company with a track record including the CSA system which is openly described as one of the biggest IT clusterfucks in history get a contract to mine data and provide systems for the security services ? Not to mention any of the other great projects either.

    I dont think Osama should be too worried, with EDS on the case I think he's safe

    Epic Fail - just predicting the future.

  2. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Fucking huge backhanders

    "How does a company with a track record including the CSA system which is openly described as one of the biggest IT clusterfucks in history get a contract to mine data and provide systems for the security services?"

    a) By putting in a really convincing bid based on a tonne of work they've done that was successful

    b) A shit load of 'corporate hospitality', promises of highly paid non exec board seats for retiring procurement civil servants, dirty great wads of cash in brown envelopes

    Not sure which it is but probably one of the two.

    (Where's the 'blatant libel' icon? Can we have a picture of Ian Hislop?)

  3. Christopher Rogers


    EDS build it in. Access for all (security for none).

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Breathes a sigh of relief

    That sounds like the best solution for us, citizens. Given EDS's past record we can go about our online business safe in the knowledge that the gummint won't have a scooby what's going on.

  5. Scott 19
    Thumb Down

    CCTV all over again

    As title says, big waste of money.

  6. Will Shaw


    "powerful tool for identifying suspects"

    Not "tracking known suspects". He said, "identifying suspects". As in, if you're not already a suspect, you will be soon.

    I'm starting a company specialising in sound-proofed Transit vans, black cloth sacks (head-sized), and bitumen-packed lengths of rubber hose.

    Mine's the one with the Guy Fawkes mask and two bayonets in the pocket.

  7. Cameron Colley

    EDS sound perfect.

    After all, if the security services really could quietly and efficiently detect and thwart terrorists why would the people of this country think it was OK to appear on CCTV everywhere, be seen naked on airport scans, be stopped an searched at random, be arrested fro being too tall, be arrested for wearing a coat, or any one of a great many other things we put up with?

    The government and civil service only care about their kickbacks and their theatre -- they couldn't give a flying fuck if people are killed in terrorist attacks or not.

  8. theloon

    Good luck - lol

    As the ISP's have basically refused to cooperate with this, due factors like, the massive cost of DPI, Storage, power (it's so not green ;) ) and the basic principle that the postman does not get to read your fecking mail before he delivers it.... Good luck getting this done.

    Also this is a breach in basic human rights to monitor everyone's activities.

  9. Tom Chiverton 1
    Black Helicopters

    eep !

    "build systems to allow data mining of every communication online, even though the government's response to a limited public consultation on the plans has not yet been published"

    can haz election now plze ?

  10. g e

    our comms

    are safe for the foreseeable then as that system will never work either

  11. John G Imrie

    Now I'm Happy

    Just knowing that EDS is on board means I can continue my horticultural discussions about poppy growing with my friend All Ky Eada in Afghanistan in the sure knowledge that EDS will fuck up and direct the local plod to that suspicious looking bearded bloke with the Virgin Broadband account up the road.

    Tux icon, because running Linux is likely to break the system somehow.

  12. Tom 7

    EDS - nothing to worry about there

    apart from our tax money being pissed up the wall!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @EDS sound perfect

    "The government and civil service only care about their kickbacks and their theatre -- they couldn't give a flying fuck if people are killed in terrorist attacks or not."

    I disagree entirely - it's important they don't catch a percentage of them and hope their plans are successful. Can't have funding drying up now, can we?

    On a positive note, as mentioned in another comment, having EDS doing it mean that:

    a) it will never be completed

    b) it will absorb all the money they would have spent on other crazy schemes

    a win I think ..... unless they are just telling us its EDS to lull us into a false sense of security?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be good reading

    Does this mean I'll soon be able to buy copies of emails to and from someone of interest to me from employees at an HP call centre in South Asia?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Seconded Ian Hislop icon

    Can we ? Please ?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Does this mean it will be built on .net and Windows Vista running on HP hardware..?This is great news: It'll never work.

    Phew! What a relief.

  17. Si 1
    Big Brother

    EDS couldn't monitor a paper bag...

    ...what hope do they think they have against terrorists using encryption, onion routing, steganography, unsecured wifi points, etc?

    What a massive waste of money just to spy on law abiding citizens.

  18. Adam Salisbury


    Well at least with EDS behind the helm the project will simply leak, then run so far overbudget it'll get canned before they turn it on.

    Whichever bent politicos gave them this contract should be burned alive!

  19. Nomen Publicus

    forget, history, repeat

    EDS isn't one of the "usual suspects" for nothing.

    I was once told by someone involved in such corporate matters that the reason why the usual suspects keep getting these contracts despite prior disasters is that only the biggest companies can afford to bid for the contracts. The process is so complex that a company may end up spending millions just to prepare the bid documents.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CCTV Lip reading

    I wonder how long before they decide to add Lip Reading to CCTV?

    They nearly added microphones, now the technology is there to add lip reading, and the computer 'behaviour' detecting CCTVs are already being installed, and CCTV's with remote viewing on the Internet are there... so it's just a case of running the software over the camera feed. Since the feeds have been made available widely (e.g. the MET, GCHQ, & foreign powers), the software could be run by any of those.

    I seem to recall, they keep all the congestion cameras on, even outside the congestion charging time... for 'security' reasons. Also the CCTV's have been connected centrally.... to prevent terrorism naturally in the run up to the olympics:

    So the feeds to the cameras are spread about freely, and it seems to me, that lip reading software coupled to all the camera feeds mean that private speech in the street will disappear in 2-3 years as camera quality improves and the software gets installed.

  21. Carlos.
    Black Helicopters


    "Work in Cheltenham to crunch the data is being carried out under a secret project called Mastering the Internet..........

    Earlier this year The Register revealed that Detica and Lockheed Martin were already both involved in Mastering the Internet, contracting on analysis software and hardware respectively."

    So we know who is involved (EDS (now HP), Detica and Lockheed Martin), we know what the project is called (Mastering the Internet)..........

    I'm just wondering what is so secret about the secret project we know the name of?????

    Black 'copter just because.........

  22. Anonymous Coward


    >Part of the role of Government in working to protect the public is...

    to directly rule out any possibility of protection by hiring a complete numpty to write our systems. The only hope of your data being safe is if EDS fucks it up so badly, it corrupts all the databases or silently imports absolutely nothing.

    <thinks> Oh, well, actually, there's a good chance of security then...

    What is it about our government departments? "Oh look, there's a bunch of proven fuckwits. Let's give them even more money to fuck up the next system". The people signing these contracts are either more corrupt than our last Conservative government, or they're unspeakably incompetant. Either way, we need them to stop having any say in our lives.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Oh FFS!

    So just like so many other "new Labour" projects, they are going ahead and doing whatever the fuck they damn well please anyway and regardless of "democratic process" and electorate be damned. They might as well say "get inline and shut the fuck up" and be done with it.

    Who needs another election? The people in charge already know what is best for us..... pissing away billions of pounds on pointless IT projects, being built by contractors with appalling track records that will do nothing for the "safety" or "security" of "the people" but will be great for spying on the local people who "might" cause problems.

    It's a disaster of epic proportions and now it's just a case of WHEN it all goes to cock, not IF.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know what EDS stands for?

    Everything Done Shit.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ theloon

    'As the ISP's have basically refused to cooperate with this, due factors like, the massive cost of DPI,'

    Oh please, that's easy for New Labour to find their way round. They'll simply impose a £1 per month per account 'Internet Security Tax' on the country; then make sure it gets railroaded through the Commons thanks to the invertebrate nature of their backbenchers and a suitably Mandelsonian smear campaign against its opponents.

  26. Andy 97

    FAIL fail fail

    And again I say - Fail!

    Was someone on the board of the procurement department?

    What the hell is UKPLC doing farming-out this work to EDS?

    I've worked for 2 companies who did this and guess what.....

  27. Mark Jan

    How can you doubt ZaNuLabia?

    But ZaNuLabia listen and learn so they will listen this time to the electorate and the consultation.

    Gordon Brown said it not so long ago so it must be true as did Tony Blair when he was around.

    How can you people doubt them?

  28. The Original Ash

    I've said this before, I'll say it again...

    Referendum, referendum, referendum...

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. WinHatter

    Rimmer ...

    Reminds me of a RedDwarf episode:

    If the job is worth doing it, do it properly, if it isn't give it to EDS.

  31. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Sorry Mr Orwell...

    Sorry but this has to be said to some on here. Narrow minded people stop getting distracted with the *current* technology. Its the intentions behind the technology that is the real danger. It doesn't matter if the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd generation of this spy technology that fails, because they will keep working on it and in time it will get ever more powerful at data mining us all. It'll just cost billions more than it should to achieve such a level of data mining. The wasted time and money however isn't so important. Its the simple fact that they want to so relentlessly and mercilessly spy on us all, that is so shockingly sick. it would have been unthinkable to allow anyone to behave like this even just a few years ago.

    The more I see of their plans to spy on us all, the more the Internet looks like its being subverted into a giant Big Brother database containing all the thoughts and views of everyone. So add in the news about the growing government web scraping and data mining of the Internet and we have an utter nightmare being constructed. For example, this news from yesterday...

    The arrogant control freaks in power are determined to build profiles on the thoughts of everyone (including every web site). That is literally George Orwell's Big Brother. Its also perfect for governments to target political opponents and political groups of people to then use propaganda against their words and to make their lives more difficult, etc. etc.. all so they are less able to spend their time (and less effective) being politically active against the people in power. Which is the game the control freaks are playing against us all. (We already have companies and governments paying people to troll web sites and insert their propaganda. Now the data mining is starting to allow them to target their opponents ever more effectively). Plus the war on a few extremist terrorists is being subverted into an excuse to build an automated way of maintaining and ever increasing political power to magnify and extend their rule over us to horrific levels of control.

    The political exploitation of technology is taking us into an utter nightmare. Every generation of people needs to defend its right to a democracy, because without constant defense and so constant pressure, the people in power become free to subvert and undermine democracy into their own private Dictatorship, which is exactly what is happening now. So Democracy needs to be defended from the people in power, not by the people in power, because its the people in power who seek to undermine democracy for their own personal gain. These closed minded manipulative arragant Narcissistic control freak people in power over us are either going to crush us all in an absolute ruthlessly powerful Police State or they are going to trigger a full scale revolution against them. Either way, the people in power will remain ignorant of why there's such growing unrest and hatred against them. They are totally self centered. They don't want to hear the opinions of anyone else, they just want to ruthlessly maintain their power over us all, so they personally gain from such power.

    The fact they are now so openly planning to spy on us all is so utterly sick and shocking but still the Sheeple fail to stand up and say no more. But then thats all part of the political game the control freaks are playing against us all, which is to keep distracting the mass media (and most people) away from seeing the protests against the growing Police State and all the time the control freaks are seeking to identify and divide any group that seek to stand against them. It means Democracy is utterly dead. An election is simply a farce to placate the masses into thinking they have a vote. The control freaks are in every party so throw out some and more will just continue the push towards exploiting ever more spying technology.

    By the time the Sheeple finally see what's happening, its going to be to late. By then the Police State will be so powerful no one will be able to speak out. Worse still, the way its going, it looks like no where in the world will be safe from the arragant greedy Narcissistic control freaks in power.

    Narcissistic self interest is effectively a closed minded feedback loop. They don't want to listen to others so they don't learn from others so they keep thinking themselves as right. They are locked in their own world with utter angry contempt for others. Worse still, allow Narcissistic self interest to go to its logical conclusion, of absolute self interest and thereby contempt for others, then its usually publically known by another name, which is a Sociopath, which horrifically illustrates the full danger we are all in. Sociopaths in politics and big business working together to utterly exploit us all. (After all, its not as if they are robbing billions of tax payers money to give to their rich friends in banks, who are then stealing millions of this money for themselves, while millions of people struggle to get by with what little money they have, and are effectively being robbed by this rich elite crooks).

    Throughout history we have had these exact same kind of tyrannical greedy people lying and manipulating their way into gaining great power over others, always for their own personal gain and in the process, causing incredible suffering for the vast majority of people, until many victims of the growing oppression even up dying after years of control over them or worst still end up dying in the eventual fight to pushed the control freaks back into some level of fairness. Yet now these exact same control freak kind of people are using technology to horrifically increase their power to a vast scale beyond anything even imaginable even just a few years ago.

    RIP Democracy: Democracy was all but gone for a few years, but sadly it died in 2009, RIP

    Sorry Mr Orwell, too few decided to listen to you before it was too late. :(

    Time for the global Police State. Relentless unending power and greed here we come...

  32. James 55

    How are they supposed get the data to GCHQ? Through the internet?

    Will this halve our internet speeds as all the data is copied to GCHQ too?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mosh Jahan

    "Whatever the cost, this needs to be done."

    Under what pretence does this "need to be done"? Exactly what benefit is there to the mass, intrusive surveillance of millions of people? Where are the hard, proven benefits? How do we know that the Government, Councils, MI5/6, MET etc won't just go on finishing trips? Who says that there algorithms even work? What happens to people identified who are completely innocent? What about hijacked computer equipment? How long is the data going to be kept? What will it be used for? Will you be able to access it or have it removed? Will it be used in closed courts to prove your guilt without you seeing it?

    There are so many disturbing questions about the whole project and the increased amount of control that ALL governments want, and they are NOT being answered! I can't believe you are nieve enough to believe that this is in any ones "best interests" other than our police state obsessed Government and the lackies in "Intelligence".

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mosh Jahan 14:23

    I used to work for EDS (2nd day on the job 1996 walked into a local Xerox office in Manchester - guy shouts, look out theres another ED's back street computers guy to mess up our printing). Anyway... I worked for them for 9 years, yes I suffered for that long, I did work on DVLA and IR and when IR merged with Customs. And I can 100% definately say any project I worked on was not a success.

  35. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    I wish them luck ........ which will really not help them at all

    Gathering data is simple ....... but making sense of some parts of it though, ....the important spooky stuff which is going to have a devastating and lasting impact .... before it races out of nowhere and bites you in the ass and extraordinarily renders you a puppet to the vulnerabilities discovered and delivered to friends for obscene profit/easy money [which appears to be the perfectly acceptable default defining driver for aspirants] requires Intelligence above and beyond what is normally available.

    One only needs to occasionally make direct contact with those organisations/systems which one may consider to be charged with or charging for such works, and freely and boldly present them with some novel information which would need slightly more information for them to make good use of and/or sense of it, to realise that they are virtually ineffective in all matters which are future related ...... because they are invariably merely Status Quo Guardians/Establishment Minders without any special intelligence skills.

    And given the slating that EDS is being given on this thread for past dismal performance, it is obviously a Ripe Sector crying out for New Players/Non-State Actors/IP Holders ........ and that makes the whole edifice remarkably vulnerable.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @ Adam Salisbury...

    quote "Whichever bent politicos gave them this contract should be burned alive!"

    Hello Mandy, how would you like your steak tonight, guys been waiting all day for this.....

  37. Luther Blissett


    > I'm just wondering what is so secret about the secret project we know the name of?????

    Who gets to see the outputs.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Everytime I read anything about a government IT project I just feel more and more depressed.

    Now where did I leave that memory stick.....

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good Choice

    EDS is very adept at spying on their own employees.

  40. El Zed


    Has the fortune of knowing a couple of, err, 'programmers' who went to EDS waaay back (15+ years),

    one guy couldn't program. *period*. Things like BASIC and Pascal were well beyond him - he spent three months or so on a couple of hundred lines of Pascal code (including comments) for a BR related project which didn't fscking work..ISTR he went to them (EDS) as a C programmer..

    (sorry, I'm being a bit unfair here, his code did actually work after a fashion, but so very slowly and as only such a partial implementation of the original spec as to be totally useless for the required purpose. I *used* to wonder how the hell he ever got a job as a programmer with them, then I started to see/hear about the various EDS fubars etc I wonder'd no more...and please, don't ask what the BR related code was in Pascal..there was a tedious explanation that I can't/don't want to remember..).

    T'other guy, well, he had some programming nous, but not much. Still, he was a fast talker.(read: bullshitter) went in as a code-monkey and got himself into project management within a couple of years. Blind leading the blind..still, he was bright enough to jump ship when the technical aspects of the projects got too much for him (read: he hadn't a fscking clue what the hell it any of it was about).

    Please don't get me wrong here, they're both nice guys, clever in other fields, but useless programmers/software engineers/whatever. (It was a royal PITA trying to fix their broken code)

    Assuming EDS hasn't changed much, and, as the various cock-ups they've been involved in since seem to indicate that is a fairly safe assumption, the bolshie part of me says the more spooksquad stuff they get, the merrier, as it'll be an almighty cock-up and a major spanner in the Orwellian nightmare these fsckers are dreaming up for us all, the more sensible (and tax paying) part of me screams at the insanity of allowing these jokers anywhere near any form of critical defence/security computing project knowing their track record..

  41. Anonymous Coward

    RE "any project I worked on was not a success"

    Quick go and work for EDS again.... please....

    (Just kidding, sorry, you set yourself up so really it's your own fault)

  42. Eeep !

    Wouldn't it be better for the remuneration to be reviewable ?

    All for the name and amount paid to any company from the public purse being published AND the amount and name of any person or company paid by those companies from the costs/charges on the public purse; continue until no companies and only people are involved. Seems the only sensible solution to wasting large sums of public money stupid ideas. Perhaps this is just because employing good people to do sensible things sense in my world.

  43. Keith T

    Maybe the Americans will outsource NSA to work to a UK company?

    All we need: An alien controlled company with our own government's official permission to get involved in snooping on us.

    Does anyone here imagine the Americans would outsource their NSA and FBI internal surveillance work to a UK company?

    Of course not. Why not?

    Not just national pride and national security, but also because of the chance of commercial secrets getting out into the hands of overly patriotic UK nationals, and then into the hands of UK competitors to UK companies.

    Of course there are no overly patioritc Americans, so we needn't worry.

  44. Keith T
    Jobs Horns

    Obviously they do not consider spying on law abiding citizens to be a waste of money

    "...what hope do they think they have against terrorists using encryption, onion routing, steganography, unsecured wifi points, etc?

    "What a massive waste of money just to spy on law abiding citizens."

    Yes, it will not be effective against the spy agencies of foreign governments, but it might work against weak terrorist networks. But then this is a horribly expensive and invasive approach to tackle weak networks that can be tackled more easily.

    So what is the point?

    Imagine your a senior civil servant working in national security, and this surveillance were to work. The possibilities I can imagine:

    1. You'd never have to worry about a government being elected that is unfriendly to the interests of your agency.

    2. It might be any government elected would be beholden to you for aid you provided it against opponents during elections.

    3. It might provide you with the information you need to transform hostile prime minister into a hand puppet.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EDS Employees

    Stop being so mean to EDS/HP. They are probably no worse than any other outsourcer. I worked for them for a few years and it was (to me) easy to see the causes of the problems.

    As part of winning a deal, EDS takes over processing from a company and as part of this takes on their staff. The dynamic / skilled ones immediately jump ship (they wil have heard all the rumours) and go somewhere else. Those left behind go to work for EDS.

    Over time the moderately dynamic / skilled ones (I include myself in this naturally) also go, leaving behind - well I can leave you to work this out...

    Also included are a growing population of "grey backs" just waiting to pick up their pensions and they "keep their noses clean" ...

    Then there is the other group of dynamic / unskilled ones that move into sales / marketing and try to create marvellous solutions and win deals (and get big bonuses) that the others will deliver.

    By then the sales / marketing group will have moved onto other deals and the delivery teams forced to "pick up the pieces".

    I won’t even comment on EDS “management” who allowed this to carry on.

    Hopefully now that HP has taken this over they can sort some of this mess out.

  46. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    @Mosh Jahan

    "Whatever the cost, this needs to be done."

    New HP employee, formerly from EDS, by any chance?

    If you believe your posistion defend it. Otherwise your a troll.

  47. John Sturdy


    Citizen MinionZero, why so much optimism for the future?

    You think the UK's bad? Well, think what the whole EU could be like if Blair gets to be president for the proposed longer terms, and has more strategies to pick and mix from. Think UK-style spying-on-people AND French-style riot police... (and French/German style `not taking your mobile phone with you is evidence of evil intent'!); but of course you get to vote, so they can say it's better than China; in fact if you vote wrong, you get to vote again until you vote right.

    Not bothering with AC because anyone who can cause a problem will be able to track me down anyway. I'm sure I'm already on a list, because a couple of times I've tried telephoning a friend who's involved in peace activism, while I happened to be at Shannon Airport (where there are regular protests again US military use of it) and I couldn't phone her from there; I can phone her number from anywhere else, and I could phone anyone else I thought of trying from there, and I tried it again on other days, and got the same effects; so I'm pretty confident there was deliberate blocking, and I don't expect that any blocking system will fail to record who it's blocked.

  48. Mary Hawking

    Is HP/EDS subject to the Patriot Act?

    Is HP/EDS a US company subject to the Patriot Act?

    And if it is, will the data collected be available without any safeguard to the US Government - for onward distribution?

  49. Robert M Jones

    Is this meant to inspire confidence?

    Oh great. GCHQ outsourced to EDS. That helps me sleep at night. And I hope they have factored in the massive rise in the routine use of encryption by websites and email users, following the loss of confidence in the UK ISPs who signed up with Phorm to snoop on internet traffic using Deep Packet Inspection, and engage in industrial espionage on a hitherto unprecedented scale as they abuse commercial and private copyright. And the similar loss of confidence in the UK government's ability to protect both citizens and commerce from such interception by their facile feeble lackadaisacal attitude to the mass illegal interception of communications in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Enforcement action taken so far against BT, and Phorm - NIL.

    Over the last year campaigners against Phorm and BT have warned government repeatedly about the loss of confidence in the internet, and the rise of routine encryption, with the consequential dangers of making life even MORE difficult for LEGAL WARRANTED interceptions carried out for anti-crime and security purposes. But sadly, government do not appear to have listened.

    Stop the unwarranted mass interception of communications and you might just slow down the routine adoption of encryption by anyone who wants a measure of privacy for commercial and private personal use of the internet. Ignore the threat and GCHQ better budget for surveillance of an almost wholly encrypted internet. Which won't be easy or cheap. In fact it won't be possible at all at a practical level.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Here's irony - it's pointless anyway

    If you look at security and encryption trends over the last couple of years it is evident that security is moving up the stack. This means that all network based surveillance WILL be blinded in not too long a time, and OS and application subversion will be required for successful intercept. As a matter of fact, the move to IPv6 will also throw spanners in the works as, for instance, extensible headers offer a beautiful way to carry traffic covertly.

    From that perspective I must admit I find it amusing to hear everyone talk about "cloud" services as if it's the next great thing on the IT horizon: the edges of clouds are very, very fluffy indeed. As a matter of fact, most of you already wilfully PERMIT espionage and the use of your information by 3rd parties by using Google services (read the Terms of Service if you want to see just what you agreed to, it may be of interest to know the the legal term "perpetuity" is -afaik- defined as "70 years after you die"). If you have a short attention span, clause 11 is what you're looking for.

    All the above makes it probably very evident why EDS/HP got the job: these are only scare tactics. I think they already know they have a problem, and using EDS/HP means it won't be blamed on GCHQ when it all doesn't work as expected. Those who think that not using the budget would be more tax payer friendly forget one of the most basic tenets of budgeting: unused budget means less budget the year after..

    Cynic? Sure - I've been too long too close to it all..

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