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Sam Smith's picture

Privacy Internationally has submitted two documents to the UK Parliament's Joint Committee reviewing the draft Communications Data Bill. The first submission is an implementation briefing based on our work for the Big Brother Incorporated project, establishing the capabilities and defects of existing surveillance technologies. The second submission focuses on the the majority of the Joint Committee's 21 questions about the social and ethical implications of increased communications data surveillance capabilities. Our two submissions:

Report
18-Jul-2012

This report was submitted to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Under the current version of the draft Communications Data Bill, records of every person or entity with whom any given individual has communicated electronically would be collected continuously and stored for one year. These records would include the time of the communication and the location from which it originated. 

The Communications Data Bill raises a number of concerns with regards to the right to privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. There are also concerns about the right to free expression under Article 10 and the right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 due to the potential chilling effect of the 'menace of surveillance' (Klass v Germany), but as these apply more generally to the broader domain of communications surveillance in the UK, we have restricted our comments to Article 8 issues for the purposes of this response.

Many thanks to Covington and Burling who assisted with the preparation of this submission. 

In the media
Publisher: 
Tech News World
Publication date: 
13-Jul-2012
Author(s): 
Richard Adhikari
Original story link: 

The proposed legislation "is about granting law enforcement authorities and government agencies access to current and historical Internet data -- whom you Skyped, whom you chatted with on Facebook, who you emailed ... and when," Gus Hosein, director of Privacy International in London, told TechNewsWorld.

It "is highly controversial here in the UK, and already the government has had to climb down on some of the powers it was seeking," Hosein continued. "So we will see what happens once MPs (members of parliament) see the draft clauses."

The UK government hasn't released a draft of the legislation yet, Hosein said.

Countries: 
Tags: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Financial Times
Publication date: 
15-Jun-2012
Author(s): 
Helen Warrell and Megan Murphy
Original story link: 

However, Gus Hosein, executive director of the Privacy International, the campaign group, said the legislation would “fundamentally change” the relationship between citizen and state, and their relationship with internet and mobile service providers.

“There are still serious questions to be asked about whether Facebook and Google will be brought under RIPA [the regulation of investigatory powers act] and how far the government is willing to go in undermining internet security in order to fulfil its insatiable desire for data,” Dr Hosein said.
 
Countries: 
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In the media
Publisher: 
IT Pro
Publication date: 
15-Jun-2012
Author(s): 
Caroline Donnelly
Original story link: 

The Bill’s content was debated by privacy campaigners and MPs during an event at the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

Speaking at the event, Eric King, head of research at campaign group Privacy International, warned the proposals would put the “nation’s internet under surveillance,” as companies will be forced to retain data massive amounts of data about their customers.

“[The Government] is saying they want everything you’ve got and, if you can’t, we’ll give you the tools,” said King.

“We think this will include black boxes...that will intercept every single packet...because there is no way any of this will work without intercepting every packet.”

Countries: 
Tags: 
Press release

The government today published a draft version of a bill that, if signed into law in its current form, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to install 'black boxes' in order to collect and store information on everyone's internet and phone activity, and give the police the ability to self-authorise access to this information. However, the Home Office failed to explain whether or not companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter will be brought under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), and how they intend to deal with HTTPS encryption.

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

The Home Office has been planning a grab for new communications surveillance powers since 2006; today, the Draft Communications Data Bill established in legislative language their ambitions.

Yes, as they will point out, it isn't their the full scope of their ambitions. In 2008, under Labour, they proposed the idea of a vast centralised database of the nation's communications data. In 2009 they abandoned the idea of a central database. Since then, a new government has been elected, consisting of two political parties that opposed both the 2008 and 2009 versions.  In the Coalition Agreement, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems promised: "We will end the storage of e-mail and internet records without good reason."

But that didn't work out so well. Today the government announced an enormous expansion of the communications surveillance regime, a project that will cost approximately £1.8bn over 10 years and is almost identical to Labour's 2009 proposals.

Blast
Emma Draper's picture

In her speech earlier today outlining the British government's plans for the next year, the Queen stated:

My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.”

Blog
Emma Draper's picture

On Thursday 19th April, Privacy International - in partnership with the LSE, the Foundation for Information Policy Research, Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch - hosted Scrambling for Safety 2012, a discussion of the Home Office's new plans for mass interception in the UK. Around 200 people turned up (despite the sporadic but torrential rain!), and the number of insightful, well-informed questions from the audience proved to us that the Home Office is not going to get this one past the British public without a fight. The event was livestreamed and videos of each panel are now available to watch. Many thanks to everyone who came and contributed.

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

It is an increasingly common tactic of governments to say very little about a proposed policy, wait for opponents to start speaking publicly about it and then seize gleefully upon any error, accusing their opponents of peddling 'myths'. This allows officials to spend more time talking about what the policy isn't, and less time explaining what the policy actually is.

One recent example of this has been the Home Office's approach to its policy for 'modernising' communications surveillance. For instance, instead of clarifiying the details of the policy when the media revealed the government's intention to introduce new communications surveillance powers, the Deputy Prime Minister responded to questions by complaining:

There's been a lot of scaremongering, a lot of myths about in the media over the last couple of days."

The Home Secretary wrote an article for the Sun, but instead of clarifying the policy, she merely stated:

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