Brits: Email the gov't to stop plan to spy on every email, Facebook post, tweet, etc!

Jim Killock from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "The UK government has announced that it will be spending up to £2 billion pounds into new ways to snoop on email and web traffic. This Kafka-esque 'Intercept Modernisation Plan', was stopped near the end of the last government, but was quietly revived in the 2010 Spending Review. While billions of pounds is being slashed from education, welfare and defence, the government plans to waste vast sums trying to snoop on our emails and Facebook communications. ORG have a petition - please sign it."
Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May,

I do not want the government to try to intercept every UK email, facebook account and online communication. It would be pointless - as it will be easy for criminals to encrypt and evade - and expensive, costing everyone £2 billion. It would also be illegal: mass surveillance would be a breach of our fundamental right to privacy. Please cancel the Intercept Modernisation Plan.

Stop the government snooping on every email and Facebook message (Thanks, Jim, via Submitterator!)

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  1. Do they even think about risk when coming up with this Big Brother nonsense? Seems like this is a system that would be very easy for somebody to take down.

    Seems like this information age paranoia is the new cold war. The east (Russia, China) will have little trouble bankrupting us if we continue to flush money down the infosec toilet while all they have to do is send a quadrillion spam emails and text messages.

  2. no need to email the gov’t. Just post it on your facebook wall.. they’ll see it. Bwuahahahahaha!

  3. Does the government have the right to open mail in the UK? Because that seems like the easiest circumvention method ever.

  4. Preposterously huge and failworthy waste of cash, preposterously invasive, just begging to be sold to every spamhaus and mortgage reseller on God’s green Earth… just plain rude, old chap.

    (lasttide: wut?)

  5. Google are all about railing against government encroachment on civil liberty, so hey Google, how about baking encryption into Gmail? No one is gonna use public key/private key encryption unless it’s as simple as logging in.

    1. You can use https://gmail.com – that will enable SSL point-to-point encryption, and nobody will be able to snoop on your interaction with Google’s servers. *However*, they may snoop on the parties you communicate with or get the information from Google themselves.

      You can also enable opportunistic SSL/TLS encryption on your mail client to encrypt the data stream between you and any POP server. Same as above apply, but it *does* help. Many mail servers always encrypt mail streams with SSL nowadays.

      However, if you want to be really sure about your privacy, you need to use Tor and public key encryption.

      1. Or, as was pointed out to us by an ex-cop in my Digital Forensics seminar last week, write the message you want to send, save it as a draft & ensure your recipient also has the login details for the account so they can read it. As nothing’s been sent, it’s still a grey area as far as the law goes. Sneaky, huh?

        1. You can rest assured that the authorities are reading those emails as well.

          I read a post one time from a person who was applying for security clearance at a US gov’t position — they had his unsent drafts from online accounts printed out in front of him.

          So in the UK, even if you think they didn’t pick that up this time around, it won’t be long before they roll out new legislation to close this “loophole”.

          It’s ridiculous that people aren’t much angrier about this kind of thing — if it was really about terrorism, the government would have done it when there were real bombs from the IRA and such.

  6. The government will (rightly) ignore any such mass template email. As Clay Shirky has pointed out, the cost of sending the email is near-zero, and the govt has no way of knowing that the emails come from voters. These and other factors mean that mass email campaigns are useless as predictors of the issues that voters care about (the example Shirky uses is the change.gov poll which, embarrassingly for Obama, recommended marijuana legalization as the top issue facing the nation. It may be an issue dear to many websurfers’ hearts, but it sure isn’t the top issue on voters minds)

    To make an issue stand out above the noise, you need to do something out of the ordinary, like the Facebook campaign for liberated Hindu women that Shirky references (in response to a campaign of intimidation by Hindu extremists, hundreds of members of this Facebook group mailed pink underwear to the extremist leader)

  7. Facebook update: While having breakfast I dropped a slice of toast, lol.
    I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of nonsense they’d have to wade through to get even one e-mail that would mark out a person of interest.

  8. don’t you know, this isn’t a “plan” its already happening.. the news story is just a way of introducing it after the fact.

  9. Citation Needed.

    I checked the “Full” text of the spending review, from here: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spend_index.htm – I couldn’t find the word “Intercept” in the document, nothing mentioning the “internet” either.

    A google search for “Intercept Modernisation Plan” only shows stories linking to the petition – no actual sources.

    Could someone please show an official source for this? Until then, I’m filing this story along with the “facebook will start charging for access” chain emails…

    1. Link to an article on this in the Guardian last week or so: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/oct/20/internet-phone-data-plan-revived

      The revival of the programme is buried in the strategic defence and security review, which was published yesterday. The review says the programme is required to “maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do, to protect the public”.
      […]
      It says: “We will introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework … We will put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that our response to this technology challenge is compatible with the government’s approach to information storage and civil liberties.”

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