back to article UK Snoopers' Charter gagging order drafted for London Internet Exchange directors

London Internet Exchange (LINX) – Europe's major internet traffic hub – faces a growing backlash over changes to its rules that would gag its directors when faced with secret government orders to monitor networks under Britain's Investigatory Powers Act. LINX members – hundreds of internet companies – have been given less than …

  1. Adrian 4

    Surely it would be 'safer' to have no such provision.

    Then any attempt to infiltrate the network would require the security services to ask ALL the members, something they are unlikely to want to do.

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Probably why the security services have "convinced" whoever wrote that provision to do so.

    2. Blotto Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Recent LINX exchange power outages

      Has everyone forgotten about the recent power outages that knocked out London DC's that had LINX kit in that affected a log of U.K. Internet connectivity?

      Those outages in supposedly resilient locations seemed suspicious at the time. Would have been perfect cover for enacting these proposals.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/20/high_voltage_fault_blamed_for_gs2_outage/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Recent LINX exchange power outages

        "Those outages in supposedly resilient locations seemed suspicious at the time."

        And before that, if I remember rightly there was a string of outages in undersea cables in various parts of the world.

        You ain't seen nothin yet.

        "I met a devil-May-care

        She took my heart away

        She said, I've had it comin' to me

        But I wanted it that way

        I think that any law is good law

        So I took what I could get, mmh

        Oooh, oooh she looked at me with big brown eyes

        And said,

        You ain't seen nothin' yet

        B-b-b-baby, you just ain't seen n-n-nothin' yet

        Here's something that you never gonna forget

        B-b-b-baby, you just ain't seen n-n-nothin' yet

        Nothin' yet, you ain't been around

        That's what they told me ..."

    3. Tom Paine

      Surely it would be 'safer' to have no such provision.

      Yes, right up until all the Directors are arrested and prosecuted.

      As I read the piece. LINX are in a cleft stick; break the law, or lose all some of their customers.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "specialist legal advice" was "general... often verbal or by email... not really in a form we can share with a wider audience"

    Yes, I'd always rely on advice like that. No, no qualms at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That special verbal legal advice that goes a bit like this?

      Man of May: "Nice life you have, it would be unfortunate if your home computer was seized and foudn to be full of nasty kiddie pr0n"

      LINX Bod: "I have, and never have had, anything dubious on my system"

      Man of May: "You will have lots within 2 minutes of me phoning an associate of mine"

      LINX bod: "Looks like I'm pwned"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        LINX bod: "Looks like I'm pwned" "Nothing to what you'll have on yours"

        1. GrapeBunch

          LINX bod: "Looks like I'm pwned" "Nothing to what you'll have on yours"

          Unfortunately, the gentleman not speaking this line has the call of whether probable cause exists for a search of another person's computer. The spoken gentleman does not.

          Why can't the L be changed to mean Limerick. Or even Los Angeles. Or don't change anything and move the whole op to blooming London, Ontario, Canada. Although my personal favourite for an organization that no longer works but has too much baggage, is for all of good will merely to start a new one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Unfortunately, the gentleman not speaking this line has the call of whether probable cause exists for a search of another person's computer.

            Indeed. Not just that but the gentleman not speaking that line can talk to people who *make* all those things appear on the computer. Legally without recourse, almost impossible to prove, impossible to debate in a court and with little obvious oversight.

          2. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Why can't the L be changed to mean Limerick.

            Geography. You could move the home of the organisation but not the kit it runs.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Sounds like the sort of neutral quality advice that justified bombing Iraq and contributing to the rise of ISIS, etc.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        I have been hearing that some people call me paranoid.

        Deep state? Nope, doesn't exist. It's an illusion, your opinion is corrosive of our democracy.

        Pick up that can.

  3. CheesyTheClown

    Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

    I am not completely familiar with British history, but somehow I recall hearing that a blind overly-nationalistic belief was the primary flaw in the later empire which eventually led to its collapse.

    It seems to me that as with the Americans, Britain seems to believe that simply having been squeezed from a particular vagina in a particular place justifies an unjustified belief in ones superiority.

    Patriotism is a disgusting illness. It leads to some sort of lethargic behavior that allows a person to blindly believe they have no need to try to succeed since simply claiming membership in a birthright is a satisfactory alternative.

    1. Franco

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      As much as I agree with you, public opinion at the moment seems to be that we (Britain) have more to teach "Johnny Foreigner" than we have to learn from him.

      The arguments for and against globalisation are for another discussion, however one very good thing about it (IMO) is that we get a sense of perspective from how others see us, and the view with regards to the IPA does not cast us in a favourable light.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      a blind overly-nationalistic belief was the primary flaw in the later empire which eventually led to its collapse.

      Not really. Overly-nationalistic beliefs certainly led to the creation & expansion of the empire, but its "collapse", which in many cases was more of a strategic withdrawal before getting our arses kicked, was really more due to an eventual growing awareness that overly-nationalistic beliefs were harmful.

      Britain seems to believe that simply having been squeezed from a particular vagina in a particular place justifies an unjustified belief in ones superiority.

      I think you're about 150 years behind the times. These days no-one cares whose vagina you popped out of, or even if it belonged to your father's wife.

      There is a tendency among our elected leaders to put something into the wrong vaginas from time to time, but that doesn't usually do them much good either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

        "These days no-one cares whose vagina you popped out of, or even if it belonged to your father's wife."

        Oh, yes, that's true. That's why the establishment are such a representative cross section of society.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

        "There is a tendency among our elected leaders to put something into the wrong vaginaspigs mouths from time to time, but that doesn't usually do them much good either."

        FTFY - allegedly.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      "a blind overly-nationalistic belief"

      That would be a blind, over-nationalistic belief in standing up to Hitler in 1939 (which is when WWII started, not in 1941). It left us broke.

    4. analyzer

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      This has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with power.

      The scum who kicked the political class in the groin by voting leave must be controlled, mass surveillance of everybody at home and abroad will achieve this.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

        "This has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with power."

        True but then you go off-course.

        May loved the referendum result. It's brought her to power and given her the opportunity to do as much as she can to evade European jurisdiction which would limit her ability to implement the Home Office's policy on surveillance. Did you, pre-referendum, see her giving any more than the minimum support to Remain that would be required to keep her job on the assumption that Remain would win? Hard times for everyone else post-Brext? Why should she care, she's got the foreman's job at last.

        1. Tom Paine

          Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

          Hard times for everyone else post-Brext? Why should she care, she's got the foreman's job at last.

          To find out, plot UK opinion polling for the current party of government against growth, wages growth, and unemployment.

          Controversy alert: IMHO, in the 5-10 year range, whatever the implementation details, the UK will take a one-off economic hit followed by a systemic drop in growth compared to the parallel universe where Remain won. The predictable consequence will be a swing in popularity against the high profile Brexit backers (hopefully including that bore down the pub who's always banging on about unelected bureaucrats and bent bananas.) The electoral consequences are hard to predict due to one-off factors like Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition being fronted by Krusty the Klown, the Lib Dems having lost 9/10 of their MPs in 2015, the SNP factor, etc, but even if the Tories scrape another majority, May will be out on her arse and forever tagged as The Brexit PM.

          I could be completely wrong about all that; we'll see...

    5. P. Lee

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      >I am not completely familiar with British history, but somehow I recall hearing that a blind overly-nationalistic belief was the primary flaw in the later empire which eventually led to its collapse.

      Er, no.

      WWI bankrupted the empire.

      From the British point of view, neither of them were in the cause of patriotism. Actually, it was mostly to help out other nations not fortunate enough to have a strong border with their neighbours.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Didn't this behavior collapse the Empire?

      We can only hope it collapses Nanny May's empire...

  4. Alexander J. Martin
    Joke

    > The Home Office did not respond for comment at the time of writing.

    It was probably gagged.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: > The Home Office did not respond for comment at the time of writing.

      Sad to say, but despite the joke icon, you're probably closer to the truth than anyone in officialdom would care to admit.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: > The Home Office did not respond for comment at the time of writing.

        Patriotism is a disgusting illness.

        So you say. Sounds pretty dogmatic and touchy-feely though.

        But what has all of this to do with patriotism in the first place?

        Unless you want to awkwardly defend "open border" policy, but that is another problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: > The Home Office did not respond for comment at the time of writing.

          The OP probably meant nationalism, not patriotism. Few people would want foreign tourists to be allowed to vote in UK elections, and the very fact that so many people are concerned about what is being done to English law shows that they do care what happens to/in their own country.

  5. yossarianuk

    Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

    If you voted Tory you voted for this regardless if you knew it or not.

    http://www.itpro.co.uk/government-it-strategy/24471/general-election-2015-how-parties-tech-policies-shape-up

    Yes Labour were shits also, but they did actually back down from the utter worst planned laws.

    The Tories are seeing it through.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

      depends ...

      |C.S. Lewis had a view:

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      So it's a question of Labour tyranny, or Tory Tyranny ?

      1. yossarianuk

        Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

        The mass surveillance system will never sleep.

        (I'm no Labour fan either..)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

        "C.S. Lewis had a view:"

        An interesting quote that seems at odds with his being a staunch Anglican convert. There one finds the epitome of the tyrannical "do gooder" who knows what's best for everyone else.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          @ - 'There one finds the epitome of the tyrannical "do gooder"'

          Nothing like a bit of blind prejudice to cause distraction, and to sow fake facts.

          Anglicans, in my now extensive experience, have no monopoly on 'do gooding'. Those kind of people crop up anywhere and everywhere, regardless of belief/unbelief; they are usually people who are rather fragile and brittle, and try to hide it by imposing themselves on others.

          Try reading a bit more of Lewis. There will always be stuff to disagree with in his writing (which he would heartily approve of), but he has some pretty solid ideas about what makes life worth living for everyone. Try 'The Four Loves', 'The Problem of Pain', maybe 'The Great Divorce', and 'Till We Have Faces' is rather special. Plus the tri-planetary series is always worth a read, likewise 'The Screwtape Latters'.

        2. Tom Paine

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          ...a staunch Anglican convert. There one finds the epitome of the tyrannical "do gooder" who knows what's best for everyone else.

          Slightly harsh judgement, perhaps? I'm not aware that the CoE are especially more dogmatic or morally prescriptive compared to other Christian sects. Some of the Baptist traditions were particularly censorious. And when you widen the field beyond UK Christianity...

        3. Kiwi
          Angel

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          "C.S. Lewis had a view:"

          An interesting quote that seems at odds with his being a staunch Anglican convert. There one finds the epitome of the tyrannical "do gooder" who knows what's best for everyone else.

          While he may have attended at the local Anglican, I believe CS Lewis was "old-school Christian", as in took his views from the Bible. Lots (and I mean lots of stuff in there about not judging others, being "in but not of" this world, staying out of other's business, not gossiping (yes I know, just by commenting at El Reg I probably fail those two badly), and letting others make their own choices. Also stuff about "showing your faith by how you live" rather than "showing your faith by telling everyone else how they should live".

          Unfortunately, many who claim "Christ" know little of what He taught :( Many more try to hide their own fears by vocally pointing the finger at other people (yes I know, I fail there all too often!)

      3. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

        "So it's a question of Labour tyranny, or Tory Tyranny ?"

        It's a *government* tyranny.

        It doesn't matter who you vote for, they always win.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

      "If you voted Tory you voted for this regardless if you knew it or not."

      I think it's been HO policy for a long time and they usually manage to have Home Secs go native. In general common sense in the rest of the govt held them back. We now have the misfortune to have an ex-Home Sec as PM, first time in a long time. It could be worse - think what happened to the economy last time we had an ex-Chancellor as PM.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Gimp

        I think it's been HO policy for a long time and they usually manage to have Home Secs go native.

        should read

        "I think it's been the plan of a cabal of unelected data fetishists mostly based in the HO policy for a long time and they usually manage to have Home Secs brainwashed into believing their apocalyptic, unargued and unconformable BS"

        May was what the 9th of them to spout the line?

      2. Tom Paine

        Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

        Exactly. See also ID cards.With the front door approach going down in flames several times under various governments, the Plan B is well advanced: make passports de facto ID cards. An acquaintance of mine from my secret double existence in the Low Life is being forced to get a bank account for his benefit payments. Guess what? Getting a bank account means getting a passport. You already need one to work legally. How long until people are required to produce a passport on request by a police officer, I wonder?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          "You already need one to work legally.""

          No, you don't. I've not had a valid passport in over 20 years.

          In that time I've changed jobs 4 times and had/have various DBS and security clearances applied for and approved, including in the last 12 months.

        2. Kiwi
          WTF?

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          Guess what? Getting a bank account means getting a passport. You already need one to work legally. How long until people are required to produce a passport on request by a police officer, I wonder?

          You're kidding I hope? No? Damn! Here in NZ you really don't need anything to be able to work legally, it's generally considered up to you to be honest with your boss and up to you to follow the various tax etc laws, though more places are asking about convictions. You don't need a bank account to work but do for receiving benefits.

          Passports aren't cheap if you're poor, and it would be a bit of an issue for anyone to need them to get a bank account. Due to government influence valid security concerns, you do need proof of address eg a couple of bills or some other ID when applying for a bank account, which has it's own issues - for a start I can pretty quickly scan a document, change name and address, and print something that looks original.

          But here we do not need a passport for anything other than over seas travel. For now.

        3. John G Imrie

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          You need a passport to rent a property as well.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

            "You need a passport to rent a property as well."

            No, you don't. The only time you need a passport is if you are travelling out of the country. If you have one, then it can be useful as an ID if required, but other forms of ID are acceptable. Some private landlords may demand a passport as ID but that's usually because they don't understand the system or feel they'd rather not spend the time and money to check other forms of ID.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          "You already need one to work legally."

          In my entire working life I only needed a passport for a job once. That was a contract which involved going on site in Italy to install S/W.

        5. strum

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          >You already need one to work legally.

          Yes. My work record goes back nearly 50 years. Now, my employers (for 10 years) are harrassing me for sight of my passport.

          What a nasty little country we have become. I hardly recognise it (I certainly feel no loyalty to it).

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

        It could be worse - think what happened to the economy last time we had an ex-Chancellor as PM.

        You won't see me defending Brown on many points, but one thing is for certain: the global economic crash was caused by the exposure of the long-running subprime mortgage racket in the US in 2007 and the subsequent collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, not by the economic policies of Gordon Brown. Blair, Brown and Mandelson were responsible for 'light-touch' regulation which didn't help, but do you really think a putative Tory chancellor at the turn of the millennium would have been insisting that London-based banks maintain higher reserves and undergo more rigorous stress tests? The decisions of the past nine years have been bad enough, with the banks not required to meet new regulations until 2019, and will that survive Brexit? Already we are seeing the moron Trump reduce regulations on the US investment banks, setting up the conditions necessary for the next tranche of financial scams.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Cheers Tory voters - United kingdom = worst kingdom

          "the global economic crash was caused by the exposure of the long-running subprime mortgage racket in the US in 2007 and the subsequent collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, not by the economic policies of Gordon Brown."

          Which in turn was driven by low interest rates which made mortgages appear affordable. An Brown was a part of the low interest movement. His giving the BoE responsibility for interest rates with an inflation target that ignored housing costs led to a housing bubble here, leading to the problems with Northern Rock, HBOS/Lloyds & RBS. Instead of being responding to the bubble by changing tack he, as chancellor, went about lecturing Germany el al about how they should adopt UK/US policy on interest rates. He might not have been able to check what the US was doing but he could have minimised the impact here.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

    Who says that the STASI was eliminated when Germany re-united on October 3 1990? We're finding out that it is alive and well in Cheltenham under a new name -- GCHQ.

    1. Beau
      Unhappy

      Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

      An up-vote for you sir/madam, I do not usually up-vote an Anonymous.

      This however I am very sad to say, is so damed right.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

      If you were born and lived in what used to be communist country ... you would have better known what it was like. And never say something as misinformed as that drivel above.

      Yours truly was born in a communist country and old enough to remember it. And see what happened if you didn't play by the book.

      Don't you for a second try to compare.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

        "Don't you for a second try to compare."

        We need to compare. How else do we stop ourselves suffering the same fate? If we wait until the full totalitarian state is in place it's too late. Those who do not learn from history...

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

        Yours truly was born in a communist country and old enough to remember it. And see what happened if you didn't play by the book.

        You may have been born there (and my deepest condolences). But from your post, it doesn't appear that you were born there to see how that book was written. Bear witness now, my friend....

      3. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

        "Yours truly was born in a communist country and old enough to remember it."

        Was the Stasi the same thing as the NKVD? Either way, a more interesting comparison would be with the UKs newly created NCA, no?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STASI Dead and Buried? Err...No!

      First of all - who told you that STASI was ever any different from the "enlightened west"? Even if it was there has been bugger all difference since the early 2000-s.

      Second, in the specific case of LINX, its directors have been under a gagging order under a different paragraph of the UK criminal code for at least 10 years now. The job spec for the LINX CTO was inadvertently posted without edits on CW jobs in 2007. It included a requirement to undergo "security vetting beyond DV level" and security clearance needed to access top secret (and beyond) information. So the way it was working so far was "slap top secret on it and apply the secrets act" - you squeak you go under that paragraph.

      So all this is doing is just "putting into law" something Teresa May has been doing as a home secretary since the time of the Cameron government. She has been doing it not only at the LINX by the way - I have seen it up, close and personal elsewhere - at a major UK service provider. LINX was just the first to get the special reqs (so much for UK businesses not being "communist" governed and run by a "communist" government - STASI style).

  7. happy but not clappy
    Meh

    Missing opinions

    So which members are "for" this amendment? Can we have some journalistic investigation please! Then us techie ne'er do wells can vote with our feet, one way or t'other.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article by El Reg.

    It's times like this, reading well researched articles, that El Reg, comes into its own. With the Guardian transforming itself into the Daily Mail, El Reg is becoming a lone voice out there.

    As said, Great Article.

    This is pure and simple - A Power Grab. This abhorrent Government is using its ways and means, using subtle uses of very invasive technology (and without hesitation), under the cloak of Brexit, to undermine Democracy and place the population in 'virtual digital chains'.

    Those of us in this industry need to band together to prevent them doing so anyway we can, by at least getting word out (such as this) and as a minimum informing where such occurrences are happening.

    1. creepy gecko

      Re: Great article by El Reg.

      Agreed. Excellent journalism.

      Have an upvote and a beer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great article by El Reg.

      This is not great journalism at all. LINX have proposed no such thing at all, this is very poor journalism, of the same ilk as the Daily Fail.

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Great article by El Reg.

        "This is not great journalism at all. LINX have proposed no such thing at all, this is very poor journalism, of the same ilk as the Daily Fail."

        <Citation needed>

        1. billse10

          Re: Great article by El Reg.

          "This is not great journalism at all. LINX have proposed no such thing at all, this is very poor journalism, of the same ilk as the Daily Fail."

          <Citation needed>

          and also I find it very hard to believe anything could be of the same dire ilk as the Daily Fail.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Great article by El Reg.

        "LINX have proposed no such thing at all"

        Follow the link to the gGovernance review PDF in the article. Check that the URL is indeed on Linx's site. Download the article. Go to page 7. Read. You will find out that this is exactly what's being proposed and for the reasons in the article.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great article by El Reg.

          Ugh, you really should engage your brain. If you think the presence of this clause changes *anything* then you're off your trolly. It is *LAW* in the UK, LINX has no choice but to comply regardless of what the M&A say.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you think ... this clause changes *anything*

            Once upon a time, there were people in allegedly civilised and democratic countries who said that mass surveillance of telecoms and Internet was both illegal and impossible. Other people said otherwise - it's possible and happening, regardless of legality - but those people were often accused of being "tinfoil hatters".

            Later, courtesy of Snowden and others, it became clear that the powers that be had been misleading the public (and most politicians) on that subject, and that the agencies had been acting outside their legally permitted powers (so the law had to be changed to retrospectively legalise the agency actions).

            Many of those who had been saying "mass surveillance is not possible, is not happening" then changed their tune to "everybody knew it was happening, surely?".

            We know which side of this discussion Duncan Campbell (article author here, remember?) was on at the time.

            Whose side were you on, back then?

            Whose side should you be on, right now?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If you think ... this clause changes *anything*

              Picking a side makes no difference, I don't like the idea of mass surveillance any more than the next person. Like most people I'm not willing to take some jail time for that principle though, because it'd be fruitless and I have a young family to think about.

              It's quite easy here, if LINX refuses and resists beyond what little legal recourse it has, then the govt. will just step in and decide that LINX is critical to national infrastructure and security and step in and take it over. It's a case of picking your fights, and that means challenging the laws, but refusing to comply in the meantime just means jail time and consequences you don't want.

  9. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Seems rather self defeating to me.

    Since allowing that capability will for the non-British ISP's and network providers mean breaking various laws in their own countries, they will almost certainly exit LINK as soon as they realise whats happened. That 1800 members number option should drop pretty fast. Might make it hard to afford these extra paid directors...

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Seems rather self defeating to me.

      It is not beyond "the government" to do stupid things that fit their own paranoid agenda but ultimately make the UK a toxic place to do business in for the rest of the world. Given the whole Berxit cluster-fsck that is the last thing we need.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Seems rather self defeating to me.

      "non-British ISP's and network providers ... will almost certainly exit LINK "

      Easier said than done if they require the facilities it provides. They'd have to replace the facilities it offers outside of the UK which will presumably take time. Most likely they'll insist on LINX pursuing any such order through the courts, if only to give themselves time to be able to route round the damage.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Hmm, Legal advices from unnamed sources, new paid executve directors, new constitution

    written by who?

    And that opening move with "You do agree the Chairmen should be able to force through changes (in an emergency)"

    Is it just me or does this sound like the internet equivalent of the "Act of Enablement" routine?

    I'd love to find out a)Who wrote this document and b)Who agreed to it being submitted to the members in the first place.

    1. Ian Mason

      Re: Hmm, Legal advices from unnamed sources, new paid executve directors, new constitution

      The last time the LINX directors tried to amend the constitution and presented it to the membership as a "done job" (to make LINX commercial as opposed to not for profit) most of the board was effectively forced to resign at the member's meeting that it was presented at. That included the paid full-time chairman who suddenly didn't have a job (at the time, the only paid director). The current directors and staff might care to take note of that.

      [Full disclosure: I was a LINX director for a couple of years and was one of the few (from memory two, the other was Nigel Titley) directors who voted against taking any pay for doing the job.]

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I will be avoiding any website with the word London in from now on so they don't get to spy on my traffic.

    When will this madness end?

    On a serious note why does the IPB affect the exchange? If they have all this data from ISP's then what are they going for here? VPN traffic?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Even if you're not in the UK, some of your traffic almost certainly travels across links that GCHQ can/are tapping.

      I'd guess they'd like access to LINX in order to be slightly more selective in their targeting, and basically because it's somewhere they can't tap at the moment. Once you set you to surveil all internet traffic, any untapped source becomes a target.

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Those black boxes don't install themselves...

    There is no need to rush this through now, with no time for scrutiny, buried inside complex documents that few LINX members will have the time to read or understand – especially overseas.

    There's a need to rush this through if an installation date has already been chosen.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Those black boxes don't install themselves...

      More like the black boxes are already installed and the rush is to cover arses.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Theresa Stasi May

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    let hope the ISP's and other organisations can stop this and vote it down

  15. Dave Harvey

    Interesting ambiguity in the IPA

    The act requires that a warrant be served on the "telecommunications provider" - without specifying the level of staff (CEO/Board, compliance officer) who should receive it, which implies that standard corporate governance should apply - e.g. the board can consider whether to contest etc.

    But what if the "board" IS the entire membership without a higher structure? Who then would have authority to consider, challenge or even have the responsibility to comply with the warrant? Of course, if a particular member were the subject of the warrant, one could have a meeting at which they were specifically excluded, but wouldn't that be a rather obvious canary? (Not to mention contravening general company law about notifying all members of a board about meetings). Put another way - can a warrant really force staff to break company law?

    LINX, with its unusual membership arrangement might just be the perfect example of how to handle this - make every member part of the full board!

  16. Paul

    https://www.linx.net/communications/press-releases/linx-response-to-article-in-the-register

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      LINX is lying

      We disagree with LINX's incorrect claim that there is no gag clause. There is a clear update to the constitution that means information will be withheld from members if legally necessary. Within the context of the IP Act, that means secrecy orders attached to surveillance demands.

      LINX was also obviously, from consultation documents, considering the impact of the IP Act when it was drawing up this constitution tweak. We also ran this article's claims by LINX prior to publication, and the result is the official quote at the end of the story. It is disappointing to see LINX fail to accept the findings and criticism presented by The Register.

      Here's the relevant text from the amended constitution highlighted.

      C.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: LINX is lying

        There are interesting aspects to LINX's reply:

        "nothing in the proposals bans directors from asking members anything"

        It says nothing about then answering such questions.

        "we recommend creating a special new ability for elected directors to veto a decision by a majority of the Board"

        Surely the majority of the board would act legally? What situation do the foresee that would need such an action at all? Since when did any other company have such a special rule for the board of directors that applies rules beyond the normal statuary duty that comes with being on a board of directors?

        Sorry LINX, but those answers do nothing to make me think this has anything other than the Snooper's Charter behind it.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      From LINX's response

      "Under our current proposals, we recommend creating a special new ability for elected directors to veto a decision by a majority of the Board."

      What does the board consist of if not elected directors?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reading the Linx response...

      Reading the Linx response, (and re-reading it) it seems the El Reg article is taking the perspective of an outsider looking in and Linx's response is an insider looking out, but as I read it, "essentially the same", with the article being correct.

      key line in the Linx response "a provision intended to reinforce the membership's control of the company as its governance evolves" (yes, it means any law in terms of corporate governance, but specifically, the IPA - given the timing of this change)

      The changes do indeed seem to be about preventing/suppessing any group led backlash (legal or otherwise) to sweeping IPA enforced powers.

      It's Interesting how, the Government in passing what is, in essence, the very sweeping "dictatorial, authoritarian" Investigatory Powers Act, the only way to legally comply with it, is the need to make the Linx board structures to be very "dictatorial, authoritarian" in order that it complies.

      And shows how, the mearly minded May's ill thought out Authoritarian Investigatory Powers Act propagate down through the ranks, without the utterance of any response, hence 'gagged'.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At times like this it is often interesting to see

    what Adrian Kennard (director at AAISP) has to say on the subject.

    I hope we don't have to wait too long.

    http://www.revk.uk/search/label/IPACT

    ps

    rate this article: 5/5. Thank you. Presumably the New Guardian don't have Mr Campbell's twitter address these days? :(

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: At times like this it is often interesting to see

      I think you'll find some information about that on el Reg's twitter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At times like this it is often interesting to see

        @Adrian 4: "I think you'll find some information about that on el Reg's twitter."

        Adrian? As in Kennard? Or as in pure coincidence :)

        Anyway, I'm no expert on this tw*tter thing. I had a quick look at the last 24 hours of "el Reg's twitter." and saw nothing related to the Revd Kennard's thoughts on this subject.

        revk's own tw*tter feed - https://twitter.com/TheRealRevK - hasn't yet got any more info than a link back to this article (whoops, recursion: see recursion)

        So, where should I be looking? Or should I just be more patient?

        1. Adrian 4

          Re: At times like this it is often interesting to see

          Pure coincidence.

          https://twitter.com/TheRegister/status/832656293445799936

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At times like this it is often interesting to see

            Thanks for the info, Adrian.

            And now, as of an hour or two ago, see also

            http://www.revk.uk/2017/02/snoopers-charter-and-linx.html

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CB?

    Charles

    Blandford

    Farr.

    Again?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    High time to disconnect

    When having an internet connection allows the unwanted into your home then not having one is an advantage.

    I wonder what would happen if everyone got rid of telephone, internet etc would the Gov bother lying about still spying or would they actually drop the effort as just another bad job that we had to pay for.

    I am tempted, especially when I consider how much I pay to be "connected" and then there is the unfortunately inability to talk to any government office since they sacked off the public front end and most call centres. Time to start call centre staff recruiting again if internet is a liability

    Given that so many people I do not like are making money off my back by gossiping about what I do then returning to paper entertainment and communication is all pluses. No more rushing around after people who invade my spare time, if they want to communicate they come visit at my convience or correspond via letter. If people want to spy on at home me once I am offline then they to will have to book a visit and hope I am availible when they call.

    If everyone went offline then they cost to the government should out weigh any benefit that spying on the general public might in some other world have brought.

    Personally the only thing I will miss is the thereg and by the look of things their time as a free publication is short anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: High time to disconnect

      "Personally the only thing I will miss is the thereg and by the look of things their time as a free publication is short anyway"

      Not really they will keep being a free publication for along as possible.

    2. Charles 9

      Re: High time to disconnect

      Not necessarily. Think sensitive microphones, planes, and satellites. Bet you they can even Big Brother a total Luddite.

      1. Kiwi
        Black Helicopters

        Re: High time to disconnect

        Not necessarily. Think sensitive microphones, planes, and satellites. Bet you they can even Big Brother a total Luddite.

        Probably easier than even you would think. They wouldn't be expecting it.

        Eg I have a fair bit of tech, I know much of it can be used to sneak something in and so my options are 1) make sure no tech is around to catch me saying something naughty or 2) not say nothing naughty.

        But someone who doesn’t knowingly have anything electronic in their home? They're less likely to expect something, more likely to say something naughty when they think they're beyond being heard.

        Just looking at what is on the wall my TV/Monitor and a few other things are on, I can see half a dozen good places to hide mics where the unwary would be caught out - behind pictures, inside speakers and other kit, inside some ornaments, inside the old clock (the hub for the hands could maybe hide a lens as well if I'm not looking at it often enough - considering I haven't really noticed the clock for some weeks and it sits right next to the screen I am typing this on, inside my field of vision...) Tapping most people is probably pretty damned easy, only the seriously paranoid would be checking behind every picture every time they come home from being out, or would have some elaborate tamper-evident system (which national powers could probably easily circumvent, see "1984" and the speck of dust)

  20. David Roberts
    Black Helicopters

    Virginia? Who lives in a place like this?

    All this concern and no mention of the nodes in Virginia which is the home of one of our favourite TLAs.

    As for the proposal, could it be the board going "Of course, we are now in the position that we can be told to do stuff by the Government and also told we can't tell anyone. You are all good with this, aren't you guys?"

    If I was on such a board I would be strongly tempted to have my arse formally covered by a vote (or have the membership rebel and prevent me from doing something I didn't want to do anyway).

    One option would be to appoint willing canaries to the board. If they are suddenly unavailable for comment then conclusions can be drawn. I will not be putting my name forward, though.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Virginia? Who lives in a place like this?

      "One option would be to appoint willing canaries to the board. If they are suddenly unavailable for comment then conclusions can be drawn. I will not be putting my name forward, though."

      Good thing, because those canaries would simply be compelled by court order to lie. That's always been the potential weakness of canaries: they can be compelled to sing...even if it means turning them into zombies first.

  21. Lee D Silver badge

    Don't trust.

    Encrypt.

    If the parties that WANT to preserve your privacy can't because it would be illegal to do so (as seems to be the case here), then you can't even trust them to do so. You have to assume that EVERY link (even between Google-owned data centres, for instance) is compromised and only speak over it encrypted.

    Because, as yet, still no-one has demonstrated that decent, up-to-date encryption is breakable.

    Why fight, when it's easier to just encourage everyone to encrypt. Are you telling me that two LINX members couldn't encrypt everything between them as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Because, as yet, still no-one has demonstrated that decent, up-to-date encryption is breakable.

      Why fight, when it's easier to just encourage everyone to encrypt. Are you telling me that two LINX members couldn't encrypt everything between them as well?"

      Because encryption may not be easily breakable, but with enough resources it's leakable (such as by attacking endpoints outside the encryption envelope). And as for the breakable part, there's still the shadow of Shor's algorithm.

  22. dave 81

    Make your MP pay.

    Write your MP, tell him/her what a sh1t they are for snoopers charter. And done stop. Every month, remind them what utter arse's they are for letting this law stand.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Make your MP pay.

      Hahahaha, you think MPs actually read the stuff that's sent to them? Every time I've contacted my MP (the artch-Thatcherite Sir Gerald Howarth in case you were wondering) I've received back a pro-forma response sent by a lackey.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: Make your MP pay.

        But the lackey has to read the end of the letter to find your name so flood the office and with any luck he'll miss the letter giving him his peerage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Make your MP pay.

          Nice try, but I'm pretty sure the MPs are wise to the fact anything TRULY important (like your peerage thing) will be delivered in person in order to make sure it's both send and acknowledged correctly. Anything routine but important will likely be called in on internal lines. Meaning they have the perfect filter. Anything coming from outside can be ignored.

  23. kmac499

    Just a coincidence

    I'm not drawing stereotypes' but am I wrong in thinking that during ER-II's reign, our two female PMs have been the ones keenest on surveillance and control. A case of Mother knows best maybe?

    Maybe it's just in the world of the political greasy pole the "survival of the fiittest" produces arrogant alpha male men and authoritarian women..

    You can hardly blame GCHQ and friends it's their job to watch; the problem will occur when the info is passed on to HMG, or the powers are mis-used like the RIPA and Dog Walker cases.

  24. shrdlu

    Caution

    The LINX board were sailing pretty close to the wind by drawing attention to this situation. LINX and its individual employees are bound by the law whether their members agree or not. LINX may be required to enable surveillance and may be forbidden from telling its members that it has done so. The consent of its members is not required. In fact after an access request LINX may be required NOT to tell its members. The police could approach an individual employee on site and instruct them to install a tap and not to tell their management that they have done so. Britain has always had the legal infrastructure to implement a functioning police state. None of this stuff is new.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Caution

      But what if said employee is savvy enough to find another law that COMPELS them to inform the management that something is happening (something like fiduciary duty, just as an example), thus creating a law versus law situation?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Caution

        ...then said employee is probably wise to pick the lesser crime. Breaching fiduciary duty would get a slap on the wrist or at the very worst a short spell in one of those nice open prisons where you can go home every day.

        However, "supporting terrorism" by spilling state secrets gets you an orange jump suit and waterboarding. Look at what they want to do to Snowden.

        There is no "clever" way around this. And it certainly makes absolutely no difference what is written in an organisation's articles of association.

  25. Cuddles

    Seems rather pointless

    "The constitution's 'gag clause' ... Information can be withheld if legally necessary, such as, say, under a Snoopers' Charter order"

    That's not entirely accurate, it should read "Information must be withheld if legally necessary". That's what the word "legally" means. What some organisation's constitution says is irrelevant; either they do what the law says or they go to jail. It's fine to argue that a given law is stupid, but it's not vaguely interesting news that an organisation says it will obey said law; they simply don't have a choice in the matter and no amount of arguing about the wording of their constitution will change that.

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