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Tell me this is an April Fool. Please!

The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon.

Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.

The Home Office says the move is key to tackling crime and terrorism, but civil liberties groups have criticised it.

Words fail.

Tory MP David Davis called it “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people”.

Attempts by the last Labour government to take similar steps failed after huge opposition, including from the Tories.

I might as well move to Pyongyang. Oh, and why is the phrase, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” springing to mind? Oh, and encrypt everything. I have a scheme for a cipher that is potentially unbreakable in principle. At least if you don’t know how it works ;-) More on that in a later post!

Read the whole thing. And get angry. I shall be writing to my MP.


  1. Ian B says:

    I voted UKIP. Not the best party in the world, but at least I’m not to blame for the current crop of wankers in power, and for that I at least feel a little less bad than if I’d voted for Cameron’s shower of shit.

  2. Richard Allan says:

    “Few false ideas have more firmly gripped the minds of so many intelligent men than the one that, if they just tried, they could invent a cipher that no one could break.”

    -David Kahn

  3. Your headline is exactly the words I uttered on reading it.

    Beggars belief.

  4. NickM says:

    There are two forms of cipher that are in principle unbreakable…

    Quantum cryptography and the one time pad. Both though have disadvantages.

    Oh and number three. bombard the fuckers with spam on the basis that the best place to hide a leaf in plain sight is a forest.

    Just RSA the complete works of Project Gutenberg and send it to everyone…

    I had a choice here of just the three usual suspects and after about 10s pondering I wrote “fucking boo!” in block caps. I am probably on a watch list due to DNA. Fuck ‘em. They are all arseholes.

  5. macheath says:

    I thought this one had to be an April Fool; I have enough trouble wading throught the mountain of drivel that fills up my own inbox without worrying about scrutinising the e-mail output of an entire nation.

    On the other hand, it could be the biggest job creation scheme in history.

    (When my employer announced the monitoring of staff e-mails, I’m glad to say the general response was much along the lines of your Project Gutenberg idea – the resulting overload repeatedly crashed the system and we are now back to the status quo)

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    If it is a fool, it’s a poor one; this looks very much like a resurrection of the stuff the last lot wanted.

    From (I imagine a different) Ian on the BBC comments thread:

    We are happy to post everything on Facebook for all to read, we are happy for Google to know everything we view. Google have been reading our emails for years. Yet we wont let the government do so in the interests of security. Why do we trust Google, Facebook and the News of the World so much but not our elected government.

    Because they’re fucking voluntary, you chimp. And speak for your bloody self. I, for one, would not be at all happy to post everything on Tw@tbook for all to read, nor for Google to follow everything I do online. So I don’t, and neither do they.

    When the panic over Google’s new privacy policy flared up, I checked up on what it holds on me that I didn’t know about (I have an account for my Android phone, so obviously they have my name and email address). Answer: a list of the apps I have on my phone. And not even all of those, because a lot of them came from FDroid. That was it. No search history (because I’m not stupid enough to search while logged on), no emails (because I’m not stupid enough to use GMail), nothing.

    Tell me how to avoid using this provider of governmental services (while staying here, where my family lives) and it can do whatever the hell it likes with its remaining customers. Until then, it can shove its bottom inspectors right where they’d be most at home.

    I can hardly believe I actually voted LibDim. I hasten to add that it was a tactical vote to try and unseat the local Labour mong. I console myself with the thought that even when I voted for a candidate that actually had a realistic chance, my vote meant the square root of bugger-all as usual.

  7. Paul Marks says:

    The name on my coffee mug is “David Davis” (from the leadership campaign).

    Not a perfect man (by any means) – but not David Cameron and co.

    Such things as this “policy” can not be honestly defended.

    The Labour lot tried it – and the Conservatives and Lib Dems denounced them.

    Now the leadership of Conservatives and Lib Dems are doing it.

    Thus showing David Cameron, Nick Clegg (and their close associates) for exactly what they are.

  8. RAB says:

    It crossed my mind that might be an April fool, but I quickly discounted it, as to be an effective joke it must be half believable and un-believable at the same time, and I’m all to ready to believe it. In fact I have always assumed that the likes of GCHQ already do this as a matter of course, which is why they also wish to hold trials in Camera (a fancy word for secret) because it is becoming embarrassing for them to have to disclose that their “Evidence” has been obtained illegally.

    The undoing of these schemes though, as the Stazi found, that you end up with so much information, you just can’t evaluate it. I think they think that there are smart machines that will do this for them, but ahem! has anyone put Google Translate onto the front page of Le Figaro lately, and seen what gobbledegook you get back? Well quite.

    Besides, five or six news sourses don’t run the same “Joke” as an April Fool do they?

  9. The Twisted Fire Stopper says:

    The Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have agreed to implement a freedom or great repeal bill to “reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour government”, according to their coalition agreement published on Wednesday.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  10. John Galt says:

    Glad I left the UK in 2009, sorry for those who remain behind – Stalin would be proud of the UK’s totalitarian approach.

    As I mentioned previously with regard to Iain Duncan Smith’s DSS (appropriately named government department) and their all encompasing state intrusion in the name of welfare reform – this is all the state’s wet dream of 1984 style monitoring and intervention.

    It will always be put forward as being against those that society despises (the Welfare dodgers) and fears (the Terrorists), whereas in reality the target of this intrusion is the people who write and read this blog. It is those who are “Against the State” that are the real targets of this monitoring.

    “…Cattle trucks waiting in line, for the next time…”

  11. Lynne says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised about this latest attempt to expand State intrusion into our lives. You only need to review Cameron’s track record to understand that he is a lying and treacherous scumbag sans pareil and the Tory sheeple fell for his crap in the hope he wasn’t a bigger lying and treacherous scumbag than the one he replaced. When are the tribalists ever going to learn that you do not trust any politician whose lips are moving?

    As for the reaction – what I saw was David Davis launching yet another bid to become the Top Tory because iDave has just handed him a solid gold soapbox. I wonder how long his stance on restoring and protecting civil liberties will last if his arse ever occupies the hot seat of power-crazed stupidity government? IMHO Davis is merely another opportunist Westminster village idiot who is scrambling to be the king of the dung heap and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could spit him. I certainly wouldn’t vote for him.

    Like Ian B I vote for UKIP, mostly out of frustration. There is little consolation in knowing I didn’t vote the current bunch of totalitarian cretins in. Meanwhile I will continue to criticise our shitwitted political masters elite effete. My revulsion and contempt for them is absolute.

  12. APL says:

    Paul Marks: “The Labour lot tried it – and the Conservatives and Lib Dems denounced them.”

    So, which organization influences both nay, all three mainstream political parties in the United Kingdom, and also has outlined a very similar proposal?

  13. Captain Fatty says:

    APL has nailed it. If I were you Cats I’d write a letter to your MEP, though a fat lot of good that would do. The elephant in the room has been overlooked yet again, as it was in pastygate.


  14. Have written to my MP (LibDim) already. And pointed him to this article, a year or so back, in The Guardian

    Why we should believe Nick Clegg when he promises to restore liberties stolen by Labour
    Observer columnist

    Henry Porter talks to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg about the Protection of Freedoms Bill

  15. David Gillies says:

    This can be rendered practically infeasible by defeating the traffic analysis. Thus things like Tor and anonymous remailers come into play. If you are using end-to-end encryption then the real-time context-sensitive filters won’t work. Steganography is useful. Of course anyone using the Internet to do naughty things knows all this full well already, so what exactly is the purpose of this proposal?

  16. Andrew Duffin says:

    “Tell me this an April Fool”.

    It’s not.

    And STILL there are people – even people of my acqaintance – even apparently intelligent, highly-accomplished people of my acquaintance – who bleat “if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear” and accept this as not too bad a thing, on balance.

    We really are stuffed, aren’t we?

  17. It seems to me that the best way to defeat this is for everyone, or at least a substantial proportion of people to start using anonymous proxies and remailers as the default position. Using throwaway email services as a sort of ‘sneakernet’ – leave messages in draft form for someone else to sign on and pick up – is also a useful tool, since the message is never actually sent and when it’s accessed via proxy…

    Interesting discussion on some of these issues on Charles Stross’ web site:

    Lots of interesting comments on what is possible, plus some incomprehension about why it might be necessary.

  18. Paul Marks says:


    Methinks that would be the European Union.

  19. Sam Duncan says:

    APL’s right. I don’t read Richard North’s blog every day because he posts so much stuff there’d hardly be time for anything else, but I spotted this today (well, in truth I spotted another post of his that linked to that one). Directive 2006/24/EC is the culprit, part of the “Internal Security Strategy”.

    And still we have EUphiles teling us that the 80% of our legislation emanating from “Europe” is only stuff about the size of bananas so it doesn’t really matter.

  20. NickM says:

    Depends if you are in the soft-fruit trade? ;-)

    More seriously I personally think most of the things the EU foists on us “they” would anyway. The EU as a structure is the result, not the cause, the symptom not the disease.

  21. Sam Duncan says:

    Oh, I don’t doubt that for a second. We wouldn’t be in the EU if our own bureaucrats didn’t think it was useful to their own ends. But that’s just it: they like it because it makes their lives easier. “Yes, it’s a bugger, but our hands are tied. Brussels, you know,” while laughing up their sleeves. Hell, some friendly academic at the University of Soup Hales probably proposed the thing to the Commission in the first place.

    The lives of bureaucrats shouldn’t be easy. At least if they didn’t have the EU’s coat tails to hide behind, some effort might be made to rein them in. Maybe it would fail. As things are, it’s bound to.

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