back to article UK mobile networks line up to bash net snooping plan

Every UK mobile network has serious objections to plans to intercept and store details of every communication via the internet, Home Office documents reveal. Submissions to a government consultation from 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone highlight the strength of industry concern over the Interception Modernisation …


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

    So, why does the 3GPP standard specify a snooping charter?

    That would have been all wonderful if the incoming 3GPP standard for LTE which is supposed to absorb late 3G networks as a separate case did not specify the snooping capability for every bit of traffic in excruciating detail.

    Every bit of data in 2G and 3G traverses a GGSN and in LTE a PDC. While the GGSN snooping capabilities are ad-hoc and not particularly stadnardised, the PDC is supposed to have full DPI functionality and full snooping functionality by spec. That was railroaded by Voda, T-Mob and a few others with the vendors clapping madly (and salivating at the cost of all of this) on the sidelines.

    You reap what you saw. Nuff said. So dear MNOs, stop talking bulshit. Whitehall mandarins can also read standards. In fact they mandate it as a requirement for their job specs. You get whatever you ordered.

    1. JaitcH

      Snooping Built-In

      Cell systems have software packages that can provide full monitoring facilities from remote locations. The U.S. NSA does this all over the world.

      Telephone switches (exchanges) also have full remote monitoring built-in.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    "persuasive evidence of credible research"

    Since when has this government ever cared about the facts?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Haven't you heard of...

      ... policy based evidence making...?

      1. mmiied


        but I have seen no evidence of it

  3. Simon Orr

    Can We...

    Can we get a link to the full response?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Onion routing at the ISP level now!

    I'd move to any ISP which offered this.

  5. Scott 19
    Thumb Down

    It's the old

    Why spend 3 million dollars making a pen work in space when you can take a pencil, if you suspect someone get a court order and listen in, it has the added bonus of all the people your trying to catch move to another medium.

    Its another CCTV response to something they can't control, i say let them spend there 2 billion and the extra 10 it'll cost them to actually make it work and then FOI there ar*es to see how much it actually cost to run.

    I haven't seen solid figures about CCTV but i'm guessing the cost of CCTV is thousand if not hundreds of thousands of pounds for each crime solved.

    1. Tony S

      And are you happy..

      ..that you have contributed to the purchase of all those CCTV cameras? Would you be happy that if they spend another 2 Bil, you'll pay for that as well?

      Don't forget that every penny they spend comes from us. It may be from income tax, VAT, NI, or the various corporation taxes - but it is still down to the hard sweat of the people that actually do work.

    2. mmiied


      "Why spend 3 million dollars making a pen work in space when you can take a pencil,"

      not true

  6. Dave 129
    Big Brother

    How many access attempts?

    "...T-Mobile said that during 2008 it answered 137,444 requests for its existing basic billing and location data from law enforcement and intelligence agencies..."

    They answered 376 requests A DAY?!?! How many did the other networks respond to? How many requests is that in proportion to the number of crimes committed in 2008? How many of those requests were warranted and how many were fishing trips? Was the data even used? In how many crimes was it even useful? Isn't anyone else concerned about that figure??

  7. Anonymous Coward

    An irony

    'Information Modernisation Programme' - such a disingenuous title for what is, effectively, state-sanctioned snooping on every last one of us (because we are all suspects these days).

    In the end the Telco's themselves might become the last, best hope of defence for ordinary, defenceless members of the public from the machinations of their increasingly Orwellian governments and police. What an irony: that big business should become the last gatekeeper of valued personal freedoms.

    Governments will keep the pressure up: this will never go away. IMP - or whatever it's local variant is in your part of the world - is set to happen. We have to protect the children, we have to stem home-grown terrorism and clamp down on serious organised crime - these will be the clarion calls from police and government, just as they are now. You want to live in a safe society, right? Sure, you do. And you agree that child molesters and suicide bombers should be hunted down, right? Sure you do.

    Then how can you possibly object to any of this?

    1. Neil Brown

      Not "Information Modernisation Programme"

      It was **Interception** Modernisation Programme

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Interception Modernisation Programme

        Oops. Wishful thinking on my part, I guess. Sound's even worse by it's real title. Still, nothing like making your intentions clear from the start.

  8. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Typical MPs abusing their power behind our backs out of all proportion...

    So all the phone companies hate it, and they have multiple good arguments against it, and all the people hate it and also have multiple good arguments against it.

    So the MPs and Home Office are going to continue to develop IMP. Typical.

    "Home Office has said it will continue to talk to industry to develop IMP"

    Therefore when they say "talk" they actually mean "dictate".

    So whatever anyone says, they are going to force this onto us, no matter what goes wrong, no matter how much it costs, not matter how long it takes, no matter how many voters hate it, no matter how it violates human rights, no matter how it violates privacy, no matter how other government meddling busybodies (and outright control freaks) abuse these new powers to spy to find ever more ways to interference with our lives. They are still going to force this onto us.

    Reading the news these days sounds ever more like some kind of Orwellian nightmare. :(

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Obvious [dirty bomb] counter-measure

    If they wish to [plutonium] monitor every Internet [dirty bomb] conversation or post, then the [radioactive] best approach is to give them something [underground] to [bunker] review. It'll certainly employ thousands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      custard powder?

      I'll see you [aerosolised] and raise you [asbestos powder]

      [fuel air explosives]

  10. JaitcH

    There are so many ways ...

    to frustrate the UK governments attempt to spy on all of us.

    The most effective is the use of pagers as the message is broadcast and can be received on all manner of equipment, official and unofficial, without disclosing the recipients position.

    Phil Zimmerman has his voice encryption Zfone that not even he could eavesdrop on. Now that smartphones are becoming ubiquitous it looks like GCHQ will have it's work cut out.

    All this stupidity because Blair, and now Brown, has a wet dream about knowing everything!

  11. Robert Hill
    Thumb Up

    One network is telling them where to get off...

    I can name one UK mobile network (very large) that still refuses to give the government a copy of their current call record database - they will run any searches FOR the government of one they keep in house just for that use, but no way does the government get access to the raw data. AFAIK, the other networks just give the government a full copy of call record data - to use or abuse however they wish.

    Having met the man responsible for that policy, and knowing he is most likely responsible for their absolute rejection of this current initiative, I (and hopefully others here at El Reg) wish for him to keep fighting the good fight for the public's rights...

  12. Mike 61

    A simple solution

    Give them what they ask for. Not what they want. They want all the details on all the data, fine, start blasting them with all the data. You would have the receiving end so flooded with data that they would never get anything useful out of it. Plus they would be forced to drop packets, which would open up a huge legal loophole for the defense. (they dropped the packets that said I was only joking guv.)

    I had a similar situation where I work where they wanted all my statistical data as I collected it, in real time. First day they said "WOW", Second day they they noticed their connection was saturated and the machines were starting to slow a little, Third day they were asking me if I could tone it down a little. Within a week they were begging me to stop.

  13. Inachu

    pretty soon they want all data

    pretty soon all data will be required to live.

    wifi enabled toilets and doors and refrigirators and beds and wifi shoes.

    Sorry Mr. Jackson! Your shoes tell me you have not exercised enough today and with our new policy here at work at being fit and healthy and you violated that rule so good bye! you are fired!

  14. Graham Marsden

    It branded the consultation "disingenuous".

    I think that's a polite way of saying "Bullshit!"

  15. Anonymous Coward


    If you connect to webmail and social network sites using HTTPS or something similar, how are the networks going to be able to monitor you? Even though GCHQ may well have some kind of technology that can break the encryption, it's not feasible on a large scale (they'd have to store every bit of data you sent to or from a social network site, which may include video, images, and music, just in case).

    1. G Fan


      You don't necessarily have to know the content of the message to gather useful information from it.

      Your https session is encrypted, but the DNS lookup of the page address isn't, nor are the initial exchanges with the server, nor is IP information. When you send an encrypted email, the recipient's email address, your email address and the server/mta data are all still visible. Lots of useful information in that.

      GCHQ might not know what your message contains, but they'll still be able to see that you@yourdomain.tld contacted someone@theirdomain.tld, and that someone@theirdomain.tld has lots of interesting friends. He might encrypt his calls and you might encrypt your calls, but the numbers are still visible, as are the locations (from tower triangulation, if the full cell data are recorded).

      So it could be that you become a suspect simply because you happen to know someone who knows someone who happens not to be popular with the Government. Assuming the "7 degrees of separation" thing is true, we're all connected to terrorists somehow.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    This was without the NSF report

    demonstrating the whole match-the-terrorist-comms-pattern-to-all-subscribers-and-we'll-find any-other-terrorist idea

    Still what would you expect from a bunch of PPE and particle physics graduates formulating this nonsense.

    Thumbs up to the companies. They will get lumbered with implementing a large chunk of htis nonsense and know it simply cannot do what people want and know why. Not that that will stop the Home Office and its colosal hardon to know everything about everyone all the time forever.

    No need to ask. No need to know.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    i seriously cannot beleive

    they are really intending to implement such a rediculous scheme - who wants this anyway? i am utterly staggered at the audacity of our government. the only real solution is emigrating.

  18. Alan Firminger

    No threat

    Heroin and hash dealers understand the power of analysis, so they carry two or more 'phones. Anyone with crooked intent will immediately understand the threat and then work round it by anonymising. The crimes solved using mobile 'phone conection data are mostly dangerous driving.

    If anyone is taken to court on the basis of this the defence will show that evasion is simple and as the accused did not evade s/he is therefore innocent.

    What the authorities are really after is illuminated by the Manchester student gang who were exposed by Commander Bright. They were Middle Eastern lads happy together, they took photographs of tourist attractions, They were such important suspects that they had to be discussed with the Prime Minister. This is network analysis in action.

  19. wolfmeister

    al nuttah

    well me an my evil Al Nuttah terrorist ring have already switched and we now only communicate with each other by snail mail letter, so do we care? nope.

  20. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    The Home Office has said:

    "bleh, whatever"

    Corrected that for you.

  21. Jason Yau
    Big Brother

    Information Modernisation Programme

    What part of wanting to pry even more into people's private lives counts as modernisation?

  22. peter 5 Silver badge

    This feels like...

    This feels like a T-rex sparring with a saber-tooth tiger: you know whichever one wins, they'll come after you next. But it's still nice to watch them tear each other to shreds, for a change.

  23. Sceptical Bastard

    Scary for four reasons

    One: it's Orwell's '1984' coming true - or, rather, truer than it is already

    Two: it is all but useless as a crime prevention measure

    Three: government and its agencies are incapable of using it either wisely or effectively

    Four: any costs will ultimately be borne by us users

    Cheer up. There's an election coming at which we can consign the current bunch of neo-fascists and their Stasi to oblivion. Except, of course, the other lot will be just as bad (if a tad less Scottish).


This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like