UK citizens spend 5 minutes to keep your freedoms - step 1 making the case


This is step 1 - making the case. If you don't know what has been announced today read on. If you realise the scale of the attack on your freedoms today skip ahead to step 2 - how to complain to your MP from within your browser, in less than 5 minutes.

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Today Home Secretary Jacqui Smith finally announced the Communications Data Bill in order to make the largest Orwellian communication database ever seen in a free country. Terrifyingly this isn't hyperbole. This new plan will do the following (commentary in italics, sources in square brackets):

  • The Government will record the times, dates, duration and locations of mobile phone calls, numbers called (previously they had to go get those details when required off the company concerned). [1] This means they will triangulate your location everytime you use your phone to contact a cell tower.
  • The Government will record every website you visit and every address you email. (Previously they had to go get those details when required off the company concerned). [1] The Gov having a record of every site you've ever visited is ridiculously open to abuse, exploitation and blackmail - if I need to explain to you why, then you've not used the internet for more than about an hour. Also considering the amount of dataleaks we've had imagine if your viewing habits were made public.
  • Will be kept for two years. [1] To begin with remember.
  • As currently planned it won't keep the content of your emails, texts or chats. [1] (Obviously, once the database exists that is mearly baby steps away, and if they know the html address of where you are visiting the content your upload is easily obtained.)
  • Security and intelligence agencies, and other public bodies, will be allowed access personal data using a wide range of internet sites, including social and gaming networks [2] (Basically they want access to your facebook, that way they can know all your friends - so much so that a Whitehall security official source said "People have many accounts and sign up as Mickey Mouse and no one knows who they are", a senior Whitehall security source said. He added: "We have to do something." Seems anonimity on the web shouldn't be allowed anymore.)
  • Remember there is also a seperate database (coming online this january) to record 50,000,000 car number plates a day. Cameras will pinpoint the precise time and location of all vehicles on the road. Initally senior officers promised the data would be kept for two years. But after a Freedom of Information Act request the Home Office has admitted the data is now being kept for five years. [3] This is not the actions of a free country.

Right, if this bothers you (and it should) go straight to step 2, and complain. It will take 5 mins of your time, and you don't have to leave your browser.

If it doesn't bother you and you think it's just some loons on the internet getting their knickers in a twist read some quotes from people who aren't loons on the internet:

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne [1] :
"The government's Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying."

"Ministers claim the database will only be used in terrorist cases, but there is now a long list of cases, from the arrest of Walter Wolfgang for heckling at a Labour conference to the freezing of Icelandic assets, where anti-terrorism law has been used for purposes for which it was not intended."

"Our experience of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act suggests these powers will soon be used to spy on people's children, pets and bins.

"These proposals are incompatible with a free country and a free people."

Conservative Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve [1] :

"These proposals would mark a substantial shift in the powers of the state to obtain personal information on individuals," he said, adding: "The government must present convincing justification for such an exponential increase in the powers of the state."

The director of Privacy International, Simon Davies (on the car tracking database) [3] :
"extraordinary powers of surveillance"
"This would never be allowed in any other democratic country,"
"This is possibly one of the most valuable reserves of data imaginable."



SOURCES:
[1] BBC News article - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7671046.stm
[2] Guardian News article - http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/oct/16/internet-uksecurity
[3] Guardian News article - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/sep/15/civilliberties.police

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