Add Intercept Modernisation Programme:
This Application will answer all your problems spotting those hard-to-find dangerous elements. With this Application, you can:
- See who has been sent email and Facebook messages by whom
- Mine the data for a wide range of suspicious behaviour patterns and contacts
- Extend your powers of surveillance in ways never dreamed of by previous governments, even the police states of the 1980s
You currently require extra legislation before you can legally add this Application. Please contact the Administrator, Jacqui Smith, to Add the Application.
The Intercept Modernisation Programme is a plan to centralise communications data in a government database, where it would be much more available for data mining for unusual patterns of behaviour.
A typical application would be tracing the structures of individuals’ friendships and communications patterns.
In addition to this, it is planned to field Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) equipment that will look at the content of people’s Internet communications in order to determine who is talking to them in cases where this is not evident from the source and destination of the data packets.
For example, DPI
boxes could record people’s coordinates in Second Life, and their
webmail inbox screens. It is most unlikely that the average citizen
will agree with the intelligence agencies’ argument that this is merely
‘traffic data’; an attempt to define full URLs as traffic data was
defeated during the passage of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers
The Government trailed the idea of taking powers to do all this in primary legislation; the story now is that there will be a consultation in May 2009. Meanwhile we understand that the construction of a prototype of the database is under way.
The fact that communications data is currently kept in separate locations under the control of telephone companies and ISPs provides a practical safeguard against abuse; agencies have to serve notices on these companies to retrieve specific data.
They must also cover the costs of doing so, which provides an incentive for officials to consider the proportionality of requests.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has commented that the plans are “a step too far for the British way of life” and said that:
“...before major new databases are launched careful consideration must be given to the impact on individuals’ liberties and on society as a whole. Sadly, there have been too many developments where there has not been sufficient openness, transparency or public debate.”
Given this assessment, the public opposition, the huge cost of the exercise, and the intent to reduce the costs of surveillance to the point that, instead of being able to watch anybody, the intelligence services would be able to watch everybody, the Foundation for Information Policy Research rate this as Privacy impact: red.