BAE Systems and the friends of Detica
The obscurity of Detica's key role in UK intelligence is natural, and teasingly celebrated on the front page of its most recent annual report with the tagline, "more to us than meets the eye". Its UK government business, which accounts for more than half of Detica's total revenues, grew by 20 per cent to £103.3m in its most recent financial year. While some of this figure is derived from relatively transparent dealings with the Metropolitan Police, Department for Transport and others, the majority comes from covert interception work. The government's surveillance watchdog reported in July that demand for wiretaps rocketed in 2007 by almost 50 per cent.
The firm is certainly feeling bullish about its UK government business. It told investors:
Looking forward, our UK government business is well positioned to benefit from the Government's continued focus on intelligence, security and resilience as as described in the National Security Strategy, published in March 2008, and the Comprehensive Spending Review, published in October 2007 which confirmed spending increases in a number of our core clients, with a particular emphasis on increased technology spending...
We expect ongoing strong growth in this sector underpinned not only by the strong order book as we enter the new financial year, but also a healthy pipeline.
Our sources said the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review allocated the £1bn that will bankroll the first stage of IMP, via the opaque intelligence budget. Detica won't get all or even the majority of the cash, which will also pay for secure means of warehousing data, and analysis operations during trials. As an indicator of future performance, however, it would indeed suggest a "healthy pipeline" for Detica's black boxes.
Detica's prime position to capitalise on UK intelligence's alleged data defecit may have gone unnoticed in the media, but some well-connected people appear to have spotted the opportunity long ago. BAE Systems tabled a successful £538m bid to acquire it last July, even as the Comprehensive Spending Review was being drafted.
Detica's chief executive Tom Black reportedly trousered about £25m in the deal. Black is a company lifer, having joined Detica in 1984 when it operated under the nothing-to-see-here moniker "Smith Associates" with 30 staff. He went on to lead a management buyout in 1997 and then a stock market flotation in 2002. Detica's board also includes ex-GW Bush administration homeland security advisor John Gordon (US expansion is a top priority).
The air in such circles is rare. Sir Stephen Lander sat alongside Tom Black as non-executive director of StreamShield, a subsidiary Detica foray into content control by ISPs, which launched in 2004. That followed a spell as head of MI5 between 1996 and 2002, and he is currently chairman of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). And as we reported late in September, SOCA is the agency leading early procurement procedures for IMP on behalf of the intelligence services.
Official word on IMP is due with the introduction of the Communications Data Bill. Our sources maintain that although ministers have approved early work, a mandate for the full blown central database will be dropped from legislation because of fear of political rebellion. The Conservatives have so far restricted themselves to calling for more debate. ®
@ The Other Steve
Oh, well done. You've successfully taken my comment, broken it down and responded to each point in turn while completely missing the fact that it was a response to the paranoid comments above.
quote> We're told. But you've missed yet another pint, although you're by no means alone in that, the name of the project is the "interception _MODERNISATION_ program", which rather suggests an upgrade of present capabilities. If you think that present interception capabilities don't extend to content monitoring than you're living in la la land.
"it's going to map the connections between people. Only the most naive terrorist would send an email containing such obvious trigger words as "bomb" and "assassination" and those emails would doubtless be flagged and filed..."
You have just contradicted yourself, postulating here that content will indeed be scanned. <end quote
Thanks for showing how quoting out of context can change a message. I pointed out that there are plenty of interception systems already so it's hardly a contradiction.
quote> There have already been high profile cases where people were detained and charged based on such things, or don't you watch the news at all ? <end quote
I'm aware of cases such as you mention but I don't recall any of them coming about from an email about the weekend's football results that has "BOMB" at the end to "game the database" (for the sake of an example).
quote> They can do that already, got software for it and everything, real time even. Why spend £12bn quid to reimplement an existing, and effective, system ? <end quote
Because it's easier to have it all in one place rather than demand access to logs from multiple ISPs, perhaps?
quote> So it's OK as long as no one protests is it ? And again, you miss the point entirely, an expectation of personal privacy has fuck all to do with objections to this project. <end quote
Out of context again but what the hell, you're on a roll.
quote> "It's exactly the same type of data gathering as carried out by supermarkets through loyalty cards or Phorm targeted advertising that's been reported by El Reg recently.
Knowing how people move about, communicate or even idly surf is now valuable data for mining."
Either you are a troll, or you are magnificently clueless. That argument is so stupid that I can barely bring my myself to refute it, but just in case you actually believe it, and in no particular order : You seem to have missed the fact that people aren't happy about phorm, this is about as far from targeted advertising as sheep are from nuclear physics research, supermarket loyalty cards don't track peoples movements or intercept their communications, and you seem to be confusing commercial marketing activities with mass surveillance by the state, which suggests some rather serious mental distress on your part. <end quote
I used Phorm and loyalty cards as an example of tracking data, not as a comparison to a major government project - you drew that conclusion all by yourself, which suggests you have an agenda to pursue here but like most people who respond through vitriol you are unwilling to discuss the issues with anyone who might disagree with you
quote> "To bastardise the Marshall McLuhan quote, the medium has become the message."
If, by "bastardise" you mean "take completely out of context, misunderstand, change and then use in a way that renders it totally meaningless and makes makes you look like an utter knob", then yes, otherwise, no. It's very clear from that statement that you haven't actually read McLuhan, who had nothing whatever to say about mass interception of communications. Do you even know who McLuhan was ? Prat. <end quote
If I'm able to quote him, I must be aware who McLuhan was, mustn't I? Or did you think I just got lucky on a random quote search?
Of course McLuhan wasn't talking about mass interception of communications, that's why I flagged the quote as bastardised. The point of my comment was that the actual movements of people has become valuable data, not just for governments but for search engines, social networking, studies of public response, the list goes on. Any use of the internet leaves a trail of IP addresses that is useful for all sorts of purposes as touched on in both our comments.
I know you won't agree with anything I've written here, chances are you're probably away hugging yourself at just how clever you are. Well done - you got angry on the internet. Have a sweetie.
@This is sorting, not collection
I agree with every word. Any attempt to be obstructive will just cost more money.
I don't think it's a difficult thing to do this matching though, as I designed a similar system a few years back. You don't know what you've got, but you know what there is, so you have a tower of reference data, and you do recursive offline matching to the known, with hundreds of appended foreign keys (some of them hierarchical in nature,) in your dirty data.
This isn't rocket science. Any stupid moron could design it.
snooped on the streets and now online
Are all you BRITS now happier that everything you do is being snooped :)
Has this made this miserable island any happier :)
UK SUCKS it really really sucks Its turning out to be the worst cuntry to live in
Whens the riots ?