Big Brother UK part XVII

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Nov 5 05:58:28 PST 2008

Internet black boxes to record every email and website visit

Internet "black boxes" could be used to record every email and website visit
made by computer users in Britain, it has been reported.

By Graham Tibbetts

Last Updated: 11:12AM GMT 05 Nov 2008

Under Government plans to monitor internet traffic, raw data would be
collected and stored by the black boxes before being transferred to a giant
central database.

The vision was outlined at a meeting between officials from the Home Office
and Internet Service Providers earlier this week.

It is further evidence of the Government's desire to have the capability to
vet every telephone call, email and internet visit made in the UK, which has
already provoked an outcry.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, has described it as a "step too

The proposal is expected to be put out to consultation as part of the new
Communications Data Bill early next year.

At Monday's meeting in London representatives from BT, AOL Europe, O2 and
BSkyB were given a presentation of the issues and the technology surrounding
the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the name given
by the Home Office to the database proposal.

They were told that the security and intelligence agencies wanted to use the
stored data to help fight serious crime and terrorism.

Officials tried to reassure the industry by suggesting that many smaller ISPs
would be unaffected by the "black boxes" as these would be installed upstream
on the network and hinted that all costs would be met by the Government.

One delegate at the meeting told the Independent: "They said they only wanted
to return to a position they were in before the emergence of internet
communication, when they were able to monitor all correspondence with a
police suspect. The difference here is they will be in a much better position
to spy on many more people on the basis of their internet behaviour. Also
there's a grey area between what is content and what is traffic. Is what is
said in a chat room content or just traffic?"

Ministers have said plans for the database have not been confirmed, and that
it is not their intention to introduce monitoring or storage equipment that
will check or hold the content of emails or phonecalls on the traffic.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are public about the IMP, but we
are still working out the detail. There will a consultation on the
Communications Data Bill early next year." 

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