Feeds

UK gov seizes data on 100m calls, 1m users, a year

Is Blunkett a snooping billionaire yet?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Police and other UK government agencies are demanding personal data concerning over 100 million phone calls, subscriber data on almost a million consumers and an unknown quantity of email and Internet logs, every year, claims Privacy International. The data, to be unveiled today at Scrambling for Safety 6 at the London School of Economics, is based on estimates supplied by the Home Office, Ministerial statements, legal experts, the communications industry and the All Party Internet Group of MP's, and according to Privacy International director Simon Davies is "very much on the low side... We literally halved the Home Office estimate... just to be on the safe side."

The organisation reckons that the information seized could total a billion individual items of data, including credit card numbers, dialled numbers and location data from mobile phone service providers. One individual's file could include thousands of items, which together would paint a picture of contacts, friendships, interests, transactions, movements and personal information. And because companies store information on you for years, what you've been up to all that time can be checked out by the police, and any other agency the Home Office deems eligible.

From the data available it does not currnetly seem possible to produce estimates of how the monitoring zeroes in within the total annual catch. A reasonable assessment of the current state of the technology, together with an educated guesstimate of the enforcement agencies' likely priorities would lead one to believe that a rather smaller group of individuals' communications data will be the primary focus. In years gone by, however, such suspected subversives have included several who are now senior members of the British government, and the steady increase in the number of government organisations with the ability to demand personal data will inevitably increase the amount of data seized, and broaden the scope of monitoring.

Once you've attracted their attention, they'll more likely than not take a 'collar the lot' approach to data seizure (as opposed to just calmy sitting down and figuring how they're most likely to find out why you apparently didn't pay that parking fine), and once they're sitting on a huge pile of data they can't easily deal with, technology will more and more intervene. So you have a million people a year who might have done something wrong (how many might that be over, say, five years?), so let's just trawl the lot and see if we can find out what that might be.

The Home Office, bless 'em, has been approving all of this without legal authority and in defiance of the Data Protection Act, and has so far not been conspicuously successful - despite its best efforts - in legitimising the position. Its attempts to widen the list of authorities with the ability to access communications data failed last year after a public outcry, and now it's 'consulting.' According to Privacy International the two published consultation documents so far indicate that the current surveillance regime is likely to become universal.

As we noted yesterday, Privacy International is encouraging UK consumers to try to retrieve the information held on them. Details of this can be found here. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.