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UK Taps 439,000 Phones, Now Wants To Monitor MPs 290

Posted by Zonk
from the note-quite-enough dept.
JPMH writes "With the largest density of CCTV cameras in the world, and an increasing network of automatic number-plate recognition cameras on main roads, Britain has long been a pioneer for the surveillance society. Now new official figures reveal that UK agencies monitored 439,000 telephones and email addresses in a 15 month period between 2005 and 2006. The Interception of Communications Commissioner is seeking the right for agencies to be allowed to monitor the communications of Members of Parliament as well, something which has been forbidden since the 1960s. It must be that it is bringing their numbers down: on the law of averages they should be monitoring at least 5 of the MPs."
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UK Taps 439,000 Phones, Now Wants To Monitor MPs

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:12AM (#18080938) Homepage Journal
    See how they like it.
    • by iainl (136759) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:16AM (#18080990)
      Lovely idea, except there are MPs and MPs. They aren't going to be listening to John "Slippy Shoulders" Reid trying to work out how the latest disaster is Someone Else's Fault. Opposition Members might find some 'unusual' feedback on their lines, however.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Elemenope (905108)

        [...]Members might find some 'unusual' feedback on their lines, however.

        Ugh, that is soooo last century. ;) 21st century surveillance is new and improved; you need not have a clue you are being watched at all!

    • by bri2000 (931484) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:32AM (#18081136)
      They're hypocrits who don't like the powers they've granted the police to be turned on them one little bit. For example, when the police are pumping bullets into some guys head down in Stockwell tube because, well there wasn't really a because other than that there'd been a bombing the previous week and the police fancied shooting someone foreign looking, they're "doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances". However, when the police arrest Blair's assistants in dawn raids as part of the cash-for-honours scandal, they're described as heavy handed bully boys harassing people who should be presumed innocent.

      I suspect this extention of phone tapping to MPs is specifically aimed as George Galloway as Blair's desperate for dirt on one of the biggest thorns in his side.

      • by mgblst (80109) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:48AM (#18081340) Homepage
        You do realise that there is no amorphous blob called the police? You realise that the police are made up of a bunch of people, some of whom are very competent, some of whom are less so. This is why the police can do one job well, and one job badly, because there were different police in handling the issue.

        So many people on slashdot seem to have difficulty in dealing with groups of people. I guess it makes it easier to argue.

        I do agree with what you are trying to say, except for the last bit, nobody cares about George except his own staff. But nothing they have said is logically incorrect.
        • by Elemenope (905108) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:11AM (#18081664)

          You do realise that there is no amorphous blob called the police? You realise that the police are made up of a bunch of people, some of whom are very competent, some of whom are less so. This is why the police can do one job well, and one job badly, because there were different police in handling the issue.

          'Tis true that police departments are composed of diverse sorts of individuals of varying levels of competence. However, particular departments can encourage development of certain ways of doing things, certain professional culture, through policies, hiring criteria, and subtler social pressures, such that the vast majority of the officers will behave in a predictable way given the same circumstances. The quality of that behavior depends upon those policies and what the interior culture is.

          At the University I attend, there are two neighboring towns which have substatial contact with the students. They have separate police departments, and while they are all individuals as you say, I have a reasonable expectation of being treated fairly by an officer from one of those towns, and not so much from the other. Occassionally I am pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised, but not often. I suspect it has a lot to do with differences of priority, different internal cultures, and probably even different policies.

          So many people on slashdot seem to have difficulty in dealing with groups of people. I guess it makes it easier to argue.

          The formation of categories and identification of general delineations and trends are crucial to thought and discussion. I agree it can be done well or poorly, and some folks are better at it than others. The trick is to identify which factors of distinction are important and which are trivial. Not always easy, and easy thus to err on the side of excluding something important in the generalization.

        • by bri2000 (931484) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:24AM (#18081812)
          Obviously the police are not homogenous. However, so far as I'm concerned the competent, uncorrupt members of the force (assuming there are any) only have the right to be differentiated from the mass if they're prepared to actually bring their incompetent and corrupt colleagues to account rather than closing ranks, stalling and "misplacing" evidence whenever allegations of corruption or incompetence are made. If the police want to stick together they're going to have to be judged together. Sorry, but years of reading Private Eye and its Police 5 section has made me deeply sceptical of the motives of the police.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I find it highly unlikely that the people in power (yes, in power; not "representing") would tolerate being surveiled. It's been forbidden for 40 years FOR A REASON: they don't want to be watched. Nobody does: not MPs, not office or factory or construction workers, not layabouts, not housewives. It's offensive to any human because it's degrading and subordinating.

      Here's the test:
      If this push is rebuffed, that's MASSIVE and blatant hypocrisy on the part of the lawmakers of the land. They tolerate and direct
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TobascoKid (82629)
        FOR A REASON: they don't want to be watched. Nobody does

        Except Big Brother contestants, which, of course, has included an MP. I'd think they'd go for something like this, but in 1984 style, really only for "outer party members" and even then it wouldn't be 24/7, with politicians knowing how to get around the monitoring for when they're doing something dirty. It could be sold as a means of "fighting corruption" and even worse, it could be used for white washing - "look, I didn't sell peerages, here are the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Brad Eleven (165911)
        (can't believe I'm replying to AC)

        Brilliant. Spot on. Genius move. Master stroke.

        I, for one, would prefer that public servants are 100% spied upon. I'm for full disclosure of their every move, such that paparazzi and gossip are unnecessary.

        So, you want to serve the public? We'll forgive any past mistakes, but you must agree to be a truly public figure.

        The very idea that leaders should enjoy more privacy (or perquisites, privileges, worship, etc), is an annoying leftover from kings, and ultimately rooted in
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HeyMe (935075)
      Mr. Winston Smith, we know who you've been talking too...
  • Fuck this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:14AM (#18080956) Homepage

    May I be the first to say holy fucking shit. I mean, I knew it was bad. I once counted three hundred or so security cameras on a trip around Liverpool but I never once suspected that we had it anywhere near this bad.

    And these goons want a road-pricing scheme via GPS tracking? Jesus f-ing Christ. Next they'll want to photograph people in toilets in case they decide to take drugs in them. They really are that bat-shit crazy!

    My Grandma died last year of cancer. She was one of the brave women that gunned down German planes over Widnes during World War II. Their generation's sacrifice, every single last one of them appears to be in vein. For we've become the very thing we fought sixty years ago. How did this happen? How did we let ourselves be cowed in to this?

    The faceless little shits behind this will never be known. Their crimes will never go punished.

    Any Canadians willing to sponsor a immigrating Brit?

    Simon

    • Re:Fuck this... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:31AM (#18081128)
      Any Canadians willing to sponsor a immigrating Brit?

      No. Don't run away to North America just because you don't have the balls to stand up to the thugs in your own country. Your grandma didn't run away. You shouldn't either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TobascoKid (82629)
        Like the Germans were anything compared to combined forces of the British government and British teenagers. One group of thugs might not be so bad, but two?
    • No simon, I won't house you from the evil brits. You drink too much. :-)

      BTW, do you really think the cameras are archived or looked at in any depth.

      Tom
      • Re:Fuck this... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mgblst (80109) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:53AM (#18081414) Homepage
        BTW, do you really think the cameras are archived or looked at in any depth.
         
        That might make you feel safe for now, but what about the future. What about when image recognition if to the point that the computer can recognise you, and thus record everywhere you have been. Does that worry you? Is that really that far away? How much did the ministry of defence spend on Image Recognition last year? Any idea? A scary amount, whatever it is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomstdenis (446163)
          Well at the point where the Crown thinks I'm an enemy I'll just stop visiting the country :-)

          Honestly, I agree the cameras are a waste of effort, but the privacy issues are just not there. You're OUT IN PUBLIC for crying out loud.

          Tom
          • Re:Fuck this... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by HairyCanary (688865) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:42AM (#18082050)
            How do you equate being out in public with it being okay to track my every move? I go out every day, and thousands of people "see" me. Not a single one of them knows all the places I've been, they only see me for a moment or two. This is such a huge difference from the government tracking everywhere I go that I'm scared to think there are probably many folks like you who cannot recognize the distinction.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Björn (4836)
          There are already cameras with face recognition software outside of London. Here are a few commercial products:
          • http://www.identix.com/
          • http://www.guardia.com/
          • http://www.cybula.com/Facenforce.htm
          • http://www.a4vision.com/

          Oh and here is an article about how How Facial Recognition Systems Works [howstuffworks.com]. From the article:

          A ticket to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa Bay, Florida, didn't just get you a seat at the biggest professional football game of the year. Those who attended the January 2000 event were also part of

      • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:57AM (#18081466)

        BTW, do you really think the cameras are archived or looked at in any depth.
        You're right, they're just there to scare you and the images are never archived and nobody looks at them.
        In fact there is no electricity going to the cameras and those in the know often climb up and bash them open to release the candy hidden inside for all the gleeful British children on the ground below.
    • Re:Fuck this... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by VJ42 (860241) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:49AM (#18081360)
      No need to go all the way to Canada. I'm looking at a place closer to home: Eire. They speak English, and are in the EU so I don't even need a passport to move there. Emigration looks more appealing every day.
      • by jez9999 (618189) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:59AM (#18081492) Homepage Journal
        If they speak English, why aren't you calling them 'Ireland'??
        • by VJ42 (860241)
          To avoid any confusion with Northern Ireland; I could have also typed "the Republic of Ireland" but "Eire" is shorter, and easier to type.
      • Small nitpick, but even before the EU, you were able to readily emigrate/settle in Ireland (and the Irish were able to settle/immigrate in the UK).
        • by VJ42 (860241)
          Meh, the UK has been in the EU for as long as I've been alive, what happened in the Empire days is not really relevant. Especially as my family are relatively recent immigrants to the UK (they arrived in the 1960s). So all pre-EU movement of peoples between the UK and the Republic is a moot point. :-)
    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      How about, actually try and fix it? The government isn't beyond the control of the average person; Bush's administration f&@ked up in Iraq, and now he's certainly not coming back next time.

      Raise awareness, and if people care they'll vote someone in who wants to put an end to this. Even if that person doesn't get in the main parties will see that they can get more votes if they appeal to those concerned about privacy.

      The noble grandma you talk about probably never considered moving to Canada, did s
      • Bush's administration f&@ked up in Iraq, and now he's certainly not coming back next time.

        This may come as a surprise to some, but GWB is already on his second term. A person can not be elected to more than two terms as President. Therefore, he absolutely will not be 'coming back next time' and it has nothing to do with the present administration's handling of the attack on Iraq. Well, unless he declares martial law and suspends the Constitution...remember when the tin foil crowd was claiming that Cl

      • by Smidge204 (605297)

        Bush's administration f&@ked up in Iraq, and now he's certainly not coming back next time.

        I should hope not, because there's supposed to be a two-term limit on the Presidential office. There isn't supposed to be a "next time" for him.

        Otherwise I agree. The government is supposed to be a servant of the people, not the other way around, and the closing and dismissal of the petition should itself be a focus of public action. What we (both in the US and the UK) really need is a mechanism to have recall elec

    • I hope you have a copy of the Magna Carta. That damn piece of paper is a threat to UK national security.
    • by phookz (944746) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:02AM (#18081534)
      Your lack or patriotism and excessive use of foul language has been noted...
    • Any Canadians willing to sponsor a immigrating Brit?

      Sure. But I think you'd be disappointed.

      The population here in Canada is still under the same level of control, but it's just done more subtly. Seriously. EVERYBODY is already wire-tapped. Echelon [wikipedia.org] takes care of that. It's just not discussed in parliament. And with the kind of Cell phone systems in place and RFID and satellite imaging, and heaven knows what else, (a lightbulb can function as a two-way EM transceiver if you have sensitive enough equipm
    • Re:Fuck this... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zeoslap (190553) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:36AM (#18081958) Homepage
      >> How did this happen? How did we let ourselves be cowed in to this?

      One word. Alcohol. The alcohol based culture of the UK causes both street crime and traffic fatalities so you end up with cameras in the streets and cameras on the roads, perhaps it also leads to numbed citizens that don't really care as well (debatable).

      I lived in the UK till I was twenty and it's only when you leave and look back that you see just how much people drink there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by element-o.p. (939033)
        No, it isn't alcohol. That's a symptom, not a cause.

        It really happened because of two words, just like here in the U.S.: apathy and fear. I don't know how long this crap has been going on in the U.K., but this culture of fear really took off in the U.S. after 9/11. The government, of course, sensing a chance to greatly expand its powers by capitalizing on fear, jumped all over this golden opportunity. Unfortunately, people in this country have become so complacent--after all, the government is there
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by isorox (205688)
      My Grandma died last year of cancer. She was one of the brave women that gunned down German planes over Widnes during World War II.

      Saving Widnes isn't something to be proud of -- unless you mean the planes crashed into Widnes, which is a glorious triumph! ;)
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:19AM (#18081024) Homepage Journal

    But Sir Swinton rejected the suggestion of allowing intercept material on terrorists and organised criminals to be used in evidence in trials. "If terrorists and criminals, most particularly those high up in the chain of command, know that interception would be used in evidence against them, they will do everything possible to stop providing the material which is so very valuable as intelligence."
    This has bended my mind. My mind is now bended.
    • by GundamFan (848341)
      I'm sorry what?

      How in the world can intelligence that can't be used in court be very useful? even if you use it to stop a plot you wouldn't be able to hold on to these bad guys according to your own rules. Why can't our governments (the US and UK in this case) that all this crap does is erode there credibility and marginalize the one thing they are sworn to protect above all else.

      President Bush once said "They hate our freedom" and I am beginning to think that his plan for combating this is to lower our fre
      • How in the world can intelligence that can't be used in court be very useful? even if you use it to stop a plot you wouldn't be able to hold on to these bad guys according to your own rules. Why can't our governments (the US and UK in this case) that all this crap does is erode there credibility and marginalize the one thing they are sworn to protect above all else.

        You are making the mistaken assumption that there was ever any intent to use the intelligence in court so that they can "hold on" to the bad guy

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hoi Polloi (522990)
          Sort of like all of the info that J Edgar Hoover accumulated as head of the FBI? Not very useful in court but great for ruining lives, political careers, etc.
      • I might be wrong, but 'can be used in court' != 'can be used by police in the course of their investigations'. A phone intercept might, for example, lead to a raid on a premises, which would then reveal evidence that could be used in court.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rob T Firefly (844560)

          I might be wrong, but 'can be used in court' != 'can be used by police in the course of their investigations'. A phone intercept might, for example, lead to a raid on a premises, which would then reveal evidence that could be used in court.

          That does make a certain kind of sense. However, doesn't this pretty much suggest that the powers that be are actually more interested in gathering and hoarding massive amounts of data than actually using the data they have to catch criminals? It seems to me a bit like b

          • by Bogtha (906264)

            However, doesn't this pretty much suggest that the powers that be are actually more interested in gathering and hoarding massive amounts of data than actually using the data they have to catch criminals?

            Not really. Wiretaps are only going to reveal what people are talking about doing. Better to keep them under surveillance until they actually try to do something, don't you think? That way it's easier to prove and they get put away for longer. Furthermore, if they are all talk, arresting them won't

  • by mrogers (85392) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:22AM (#18081038)
    The figure seems particularly large when you consider that around 5,000,000 crimes were reported [crimestatistics.org.uk] in England and Wales during the same period. Does one in twelve crimes require a wiretap? Or is it possible that at least some of the surveillance is politically motivated [lobster-magazine.co.uk]?
    • by frp001 (227227)
      Another interesting point would be : how many were solved? how many were solved because of the monitoring? how were solved partly thanks to monitoring?
    • They've just seen too many movies.

      In the original Day of the Jackal [imdb.com], the inspector is trying to determine the source of a leak, probably coming from someone at the highest level. He finally determines that it's come from one of the ministers on the board that oversees his investigation. After announcing which minister was the source of the leak by playing a tape from a wire tap, one of the ministers asks "How did you know whose telephone to tap?"

      His response, "I didn't, so I tapped them all."

      UK res
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      The figure seems particularly large

      Yes, but read the article carefully. The big problem with this figure is that it's only the requests. How many were denied? It doesn't say. Also, this isn't all "wiretapping" in the commonly understood sense. It also includes applications for phone numbers dialled, email addresses, and so on. And is it one request per person? One request per email address? It doesn't say.

      The real problem with this article is that it is extremely unclear about what is being

    • The figure seems particularly large when you consider that around 5,000,000 crimes were reported in England and Wales during the same period. Does one in twelve crimes require a wiretap? Or is it possible that at least some of the surveillance is politically motivated?

      More like the submitter did a hack job of citing the relevant figures.

      Almost 450,000 requests were made to monitor people's telephone calls, e-mails and post by secret agencies and other authorised bodies in just over a year, the spying watchd

  • by Bushcat (615449) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:25AM (#18081064)
    Know what everyone does.
    Know where everyone is.
    Pick them up when the time's right.

    I sometimes think freedom is simply a government not having the right to know where you are.

  • Dumb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:28AM (#18081094)
    The thing that annoys me about this stuff is that the justificaiton for it seems to be mainly catching terrorists, but it will only catch the stupid or incompetant ones. So the government can catch some dissaffected and naieve youth with a half-baked plan that he may never commit and give it as an example of how they are winning the "war on terror".

    I would of thought rule number one for any competent terrorist these days is "don't use electronic communications of any sort". We know that real terrorist cells can lie dormant for years - I'm sure they don't worry about the couple of days it might take to send a letter or spoken message.
    • Well it is from the dumb terrorists the real serious terrorists recruit suicide bombers. The suicide bomber is beyond reason and is highly irrational. It is very difficult to defend against them. Thought they are dumb compared to humans, they are very smart compared to a guided missile in homing into the targets. The only defence against them is to find the missile launchers, the people who recruit them, arm them, aquire target info and launch these dumb terrorists.

      But that does not justify wholesale spy

    • What I hate is the definition of "terrorist" is subject to change.

      Try this, be muslim and not support the war in iraq. See how quickly you're shown contempt not only from the man but from society as well.

      There are more citizens than policy makers. If anything the citizens are letting it happen, they're supporting it, and not doing any meaningful action to stop it because it's inconvenient.

      Tom
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:30AM (#18081110) Journal
    All they have to prove is that all these spying saves one child. Presto. Everything and anything can be justified under the slogan, "if it saves one child, it is worth it."
  • Ugly words, but true. If the party in power in the UK wants to imprison everyone whose last name begins with the letter "A", there
    is nothing to stop them, as long as they can win votes of confidence and continue to maintain a majority. There are no checks and balances at all, except for the control of the House of Commons.

    Look at the Iraq War. Is there any public support for it in the UK ? Not much. Is there any chance of the public's will actually being
    translated into a change in policy ? Not apparently.

    An
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      There are no checks and balances at all, except for the control of the House of Commons.

      As an American I find it ironic that we broke away from Britain because of King George and now the only remaining check and balance for the UK is Royal Assent and maybe the House of Lords.

      Not that we are much better off. In theory we have the Judiciary to keep the Government in line. History says otherwise though.

      • We don't need the House of Lords. The House of Commons can pass a bill for a second time to become law, even if the HoL rejects it. Also, Royal Assent has not been withheld since the 1700's.
      • by badfish99 (826052)
        I've never heard of Royal Assent being withheld, so this is a purely theoretical check or balance.
        Actually, Wikipedia says that it was withheld in the case of the "Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill" in 1999; since the purpose of that legislation was to stop the government going to war without parlimentary approval, it's not a hopeful precedent.

        The House of Lords is slowly being destroyed by the government: a few days ago they had a scheme to change the voting rules in parliamen
        • It was withheld last in 1708 by Anne. The 1999 action was not withholding assent, she refused to allow it to be heard. And as a ten minute bill, it was not a significant piece of legislation, more the personal plans of a single MP.
    • by Bogtha (906264) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:56AM (#18081448)

      If the party in power in the UK wants to imprison everyone whose last name begins with the letter "A", there is nothing to stop them

      This is not true. First the party in power has to write a law that makes it a crime to have such a name. Then they have to convince the democratically elected House of Commons to pass it. Then they have to convince the House of Lords to pass it. Then they have to convince the Queen to give her assent.

      The party in power does not have the authority to imprison people at will without passing a law. That is a constitutionally protected right found in the Magna Carta [statutelaw.gov.uk], dating back almost eight centuries.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hoi Polloi (522990)
        In the US you charge them with something else all the while you really did it because of their name (sounded Arabic). Even bogus testimony by "classified witnesses" who's id can't be reveal because of national security claims. Then you deny them bail and let their case stew in court for ages. By the time all of the appeals have gone through years may have passed.

        They've got people in Guantanamo who've been held prisoner longer than many Nazis leaders were after WWII.
      • I addressed this in my other post in this thread, but the House of Commons can pass law without the House of Lords (see the recent hunting act), and Royal Assent is pretty much a given. While I agree that it still has to be passed by the House of Commons, it is possible to bypass it altogether. In times of "national emergency", the Civil Contingencies Act allows Parliament to use the Privy Council to enact legislation.
      • Then they have to convince the democratically elected House of Commons to pass it.

        The House of Commons is hardly democratically elected. Our "first past the post" system means that despite only 22% of the population voting for them at the last election, and not even winning the popular vote in England, Blair's Labour party currently have an absolute majority in the Commons.

        Then they have to convince the House of Lords to pass it.

        Or just invoke the Parliament Act.

        Then they have to convince the Que

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:31AM (#18081120)
    Now that government officials find themselves questioning the suspiciousness of their words or actions, fearing misunderstanding at every step... well, they'll pass laws to make it perhaps less restrictive for themselves in subtle ways, while appearing to be under the same circumstances as everyone else.

    What, do you expect empathy from a system that let things go this far? Once those in charge are comfortable with their own security under such a system, they're free to become increasingly afraid of change, of differences, of people interested in learning what they themselves don't wish to have looked into.

    Even if the result doesn't reflect the expected fictions, you can expect it will be harder than ever to reverse, or to justify a revolt against to fix. Now that it is becoming a fully ubiquitous part of your nation, it will become a point of your nation's pride. Hell of a legacy for the ultra-reactions from a four planes hitting three buildings in another nation, and its aftershocks.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by transporter_ii (986545) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:31AM (#18081122) Homepage
    My definition of a police state: When the lawmakers exempt themselves from the laws they make and enforce on everyone else.

    Transporter_ii

    • My definition of a police state: When the lawmakers exempt themselves from the laws they make and enforce on everyone else.

      There's a long tradition of special privileges for MPs in Britain, especially while Parliament is in session. The American concept of Free Speech essentially started out as a reapplication of the prohibition on restricting speech within debates in the British Parliament. America's constitution just applies that same rule to all Americans because in the United States the people are sov

  • However, the biggest one I find is that your average citizen can be subjected to that level of invasion, yet it is illegal to do the same to a member of parliment. That is a travesty. They need to start showing parliment what the bugged life is like. Let a damaging private phone call be exposed by a system abuse. It's the very best thing that could happen. Perhaps after a parliment member actually has real stakes in what they are allowing to go on, the may make some more rational decisions about it, an

    • Maybe it is already the case. Remember that we are talking about about a country in which more member of the government had to resign due to personal issues going public than because of real political reasons.
      So I would bet they are already spying on each other just in case they could use those information to trash an opponent.
  • So what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There were 439,000 *requests*. This figure includes email addresses. I personally have 6 addresses. Does that figure mean 1 request for each address/phone number of 1 request per person? It does not state how many of those requests were granted.

    Why shouldn't MP's be treated the same as ordinary citizens? They are not above the law, and can be sued/tried etc like any other citizen.

    When the next London bombings occur everyone will complain that nothing was done to stop anyone, and it will all be the

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zoxed (676559) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:18AM (#18081748) Homepage
      > There were 439,000 *requests*.

      Slashdot title: 439,000 phones tapped (dramatic)

      Actual report:
      - 439,000 requests (i.e. a bit less dramatic)
      - link to TFA states telephone *and* email addresses (i.e. a bit less dramatic)
      - TFA says telephone, email and postal addresses (i.e. a bit less dramatic, again)
  • on the law of averages they should be monitoring at least 5 of the MPs.
    Perhaps some MP's have already been caught in the dragnet, and they are trying to make it retroactively kosher.
  • Remember, remember, the fifth of November...
  • Just the UK huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Macka (9388) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:41AM (#18081242)

    You yanks are all bleating on about how bad this is and how high these figures are. What makes you think your own government is being any less nosy about your affairs? Ignorance is bliss :)

  • ... the question is who is doing the monitoring?

    People are people and in any field of occupation there are good, bad and somewhere in between.

    Information is power, but who is getting the information and how will they use it?

    With this in mind, does monitoring improve society or just provide more opportunity to do others wrong?

  • Headline is WRONG! (Score:5, Informative)

    by sirwired (27582) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:04AM (#18081578)
    There were NOT 439,000 requests to tap phones. There were 439,000 requests for "communications information". This includes requests for lists of e-mail addresses, lists of numbers called, etc, in addition to taps.

    I'm not saying that is a good or bad thing, just that the headline is incorrect and sensationalist.

    SirWired
  • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:05AM (#18081592)
    Instead of using security cameras, which have a bad public perception, we could instead mandate that all television importers be required to install cameras inside their sets. This way we could have nearly 100% coverage, even inside people's houses (where most crimes are committed), yet not be so obviously pervasive as to give citizens discomfort.

    Naturally there would be a public concern of targeted "viewing", so we just have to hire people to monitor these sets and do it at random. That way, people won't actually know if they're being monitored or not.

    We could call these modified TV's... telescreens.
  • by TobascoKid (82629) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:10AM (#18081648) Homepage
    After all the the talk about "Sleeping Walking Into A Big Brother Society", a proper Big Brother is finally being discussed. Big Brother in 1984 didn't give a damn about the "proles" (which is what all the other Big Brother threats up until now were about), all the surveillance was for making sure party members kept in line.

    That must be why there has been proposal after proposal for more and more big brother style policies, few if any of which are/would be effective. It was to get to the point where the government could monitor itself, which is far more likely to succeed, as there are a lot less people to watch.
  • We need to develop a new coded speaking language. That way we don't need any expectation of privacy.
  • by Stevecrox (962208)
    OK lets break this down 795 which are empowered to get access to communications data made 450,000 requests over 15 months, lets have a think shall we 795 bodies, not just MI6 and GCHQ. These requests include requests for email addresses and phone numbers. Hrmm what groups could be doing this perhaps the TV licensing people? Perhaps the tax man wants some details? Not made any Student Loan payments (SLC)?oh wait one of the listed bodies was the serious fraud office and Financial Services Authority. SO lets g
  • by nmg196 (184961) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:32PM (#18082728)
    Of course, if you're British and you care about your every move being monitored by the government, you should sign the official petition [pm.gov.uk] against the GPS tracking of every single UK vehicle for the purposes of the new "pay as you drive" scheme.

    This petition has been in the news a lot this week, but if you've not already signed it, you should consider doing so as it's due to close TODAY (20th Feb). So far, an incredible 1.7 MILLION people have signed.

  • by alexandre (53) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:37PM (#18082778) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at the research papers linked here [freehaven.net] and this one in particular:

    The Economics of Mass Surveillance and the Questionable Value of Anonymous Communications (PDF [kuleuven.be])
    by George Danezis and Bettina Wittneben.


    You may think that half a million phone tapped is not that much... well think again, the social network effect is probably exposing all of Britain. Ask for your rights to be respected now.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

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