Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Snoopers Charter of Ordinary People

This morning's Times again reports on the plans to start recording and monitoring us even more when we use the Internet, send email, make a phone call, and that local Councils will now have the power to see these records, no doubt for things unrelated to terrorism. I sense some slight problems here and very good technical reasons why it won't catch criminals but will snare ordinary people.
  • How will this give any meaningful information if someone uses a Internet cafe?
  • What if someone uses an unregistered 3G dongle? (pictured) You will be able to triangulate a position roughly from it when it is online, but any sensible terrorist is going to make use of multiple unregistered sims.
  • Who becomes the target when a wifi network is used that does not belong to the person you actually want to snoop on? A terrorist or criminal could quite happily use someone elses connection. How can you know that the "who" is who you think it is?
  • The assumption behind monitoring email is that people use an email client and use standard TCP ports, any would be criminal is going to make sure they don't do that, use a secure tunnel and proxy, and send mail via a website hosted in a country like, say Russia?
  • The throughput on store and forward of all traffic information, whether you have content or not, will be immense.
  • How are you going to search such data in a timely fashion? Raw text files on scale being touted will not be very easily searchable.
Feel free to add some more. The bottom line is this is not about criminals it's about shifting the perception yet again towards an "everyone is a suspect" culture which is what we now have when you volunteer to help out on a school trip.


John M Ward said...

Very interesting article! I also got up early this morning, found The Guardian's take on it first (during my morning media scan), and wrote my own pice HERE after also checking-out The Times article that you also found. I have now updated my own article to link to yours.

Anonymous said...

On the Wi-Fi front, it really wouldn't surprise me if eventually all Wi-Fi routers will have to be registered with a central body and leaving your Wi-Fi router unsecure or unpatched becomes a crime.

Letters From A Tory said...

I suspect that these measures are only designed to catch dumb criminals - but with Labour's record on education that might just work.

Anonymous said...

I suppose we'll all just have to revert to writing letters again. Surely even this lot aren't going to take powers to open our correspondence? Or have they already done that?

It would be nice to hear from the Tories that they would reverse this but there again pigs ...etc....

Anonymous said...

Tor is going to get a popularity boost isn't it!


RobW said...

I don't think there is a single person in government who understands technology.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy says: "The assumption behind monitoring email is that people use an email client and use standard TCP ports, any would be criminal is going to make sure they don't do that, use a secure tunnel and proxy, and send mail via a website hosted in a country like, say Russia?"

OK, Dizzy, now that you brought up Russia (thanks for doing that because I'm annoyed at Cameron)/

How wanky and neo-con did David Cameron sound when he made his misguided statement about the Georgia/Russia affair?

Georgia started this whole thing - would the West be so interested if it were not for the oil pipelines involved?

Come on ...

McCain had the nerve to speak for 'ALL' Americans when he said 'we are all Georgians today'.
NO. We are NOT all Georgians today and McCain does not have a mandate to speak for ALL Americans. McCain seems far too happy to start another cold war. We don't need more war mongers at a time like this.

Calm down world - and listen to both sides. Yes, Russia over reacted but Georgia can blame their President/government for their current problems.

By the way, who really honestly truly genuinely cares what Gordon Brown has to say about the matter? Not too many people. nuff said about that.

I'm not very pleased with David Cameron's statement. I think Cameron has handled this situation rather badly with his unbalanced and unfair statements.

Cameron is quick to make Russia 'the big bad enemy' when the Georgian government are clearly in the wrong and guilty of starting this war by their initial attacks on people in South Ossetia.

Both sides will suffer greatly because of Georgia's attack on the people of South Ossetia.

Firstly, shame on Georgia and then shame on Russia. And then shame on David Cameron for his misguided Bush/McCain style views. Like we need another cold war?

Cameron is showing signs of political 'double standards' and hypocrisy.

" DC had called for a common European response to Russia but rejected mechanisms to put that into effect. “He opposes the Lisbon treaty which provides for a single EU voice on foreign policy.”

On Monday, Obama told the Russians "There is no possible justification for these attacks." At the same time, however, he said "Georgia should refrain from using force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and a political settlement must be reached that addresses the status of these disputed regions." That was a clear acknowledgment that Georgia, too, needed to change course."

Perhaps David Cameron should have made that early morning call to Barack Obama instead of John McCain? Maybe then Cameron wouldn't have sounded like such a Bush neo-con. Cameron needs to get a grip.

Regarding Gordon Brown, he doesn't need to worry about foreign affairs. David Miliband is dealing with it... :)

I'm sure most people were sitting on the edge of their chair waiting to hear the wise words of Gordon Brown ?? NOT.

I want to like DC and the modern Tory Party enough to be able to vote for them - but I can't see that happening yet. I'll be watching DC closely - but I'm starting to wonder if Cameron is just another phoney?

dizzy said...

I don't have a problem with neo-con views of foreign affairs personally, nor do I think it's wrong to support a country that has lots of oil pipelines in it, it's called realpolitik and it's the way the world has worked for centuries.

Anonymous said...

I love a good diatribe...

The way the world has worked in the past does not mean it's the way it will (or should) work in the future. technology and progress...

I wonder if things would be different if Darfur or Zimbabwe had tasty oil pipelines too?

Most politicians suck. :)

dizzy said...

POwer is all that matters, and of course things would be different if Zim or Darfur had oil, quite right too.

dizzy said...

Re: politicians. What would be really nice is for one to stand up and say "they have no oil, sorry, but they do and we want to buy it, we kind of need it" and then just shrug. Would be refreshingly honest and I'd vote for them

Anonymous said...

yes, an honest politician would offer real choice. Agreed.

I disagree with the amoral view that power is all that matters. I choose humanity over power.

Dizzy, I like your blog because although I disagree with many of your views - you are indeed refreshingly honest. Why don't you become a politician?

ciao. :)

Dave said...

back to the subject- it isn't just recording and monitoring us. Many councils and most insurance companies use lie detector software on callers. They also don't tell you.

dizzy said...

Unfortunately canvas, on the global stage it really is power that matter

Pogo said...

"Canvas" said.. "you are indeed refreshingly honest. Why don't you become a politician?"

One assumes it's because those two attributes appear to be mutually exclusive in our society.

Anonymous said...

One aspect of this that no-one mentions is the fact that all this snooping yield a lot of useful information that burglars and blackmailers would find interesting. If I was running the local thief guild there, planting a guy or two in the relevant council offices would save me lots of grief and effort in doing the snooping myself. I'd even get floor plans of the target properties -- and now the victim's emails, probably telling me where they bank (useful if you're planning a home invasion) and also, when and where they go on holiday and to work.

BTW Dizzy, your previously nicelooking sketch now looks the pants, the blue background just isn't working for that. Why not put the drawing on a white background and then blend in the blue on a generous outline?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the thought above that allowing others to use an "insecure" WiFi access point will shortly become a crime, as will using one.

My guess is that it will shortly be necessary to produce an ID Card before using an Internet Cafe, failure to comply being punishable by whatever terrorists get these days.

But as for being able to prove who you are, I would love to have used my OpenID for this comment, but the PlusNet Squid server (used to check that I am not asking for web pages banned by the Internet Watch Foundation Quango) corrupts the request and it times out!

John M Ward said...

tbrrob wrote: "I don't think there is a single person in government who understands technology."

I don't the married ones are any better :-)

As just about all the present Cabinet are without real-world experience (they are professional politicians or Union bods or teachers), no they don't much if any of a clue about technology or many other subjects that the rest of us do at least have some idea about.

The diminution of the quality of the Lords, and the Parliament Act, between them do not help but rather hinder the application of knowledge and experience to what goes on within Government. I have little confidence in today's governance of Britain within any national echelon.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a large organisation that had lots of customer data on a big database. In one case one of the employees broke the rules and looked up the address of a battered womans refuge, went round and killed his wife.

Do you really want councils and the Post Office to have access to sensitive data?

Anonymous said...

The Regulation of Investigation Powers Act 2000 already give Local Authorities this "power"?

The People's Republic of Newham has already used it 28 times to investigate various "offences"