Home Office spawns new unit to expand internet surveillance
One acronym to rule them all
Exclusive The Home Office has created a new unit to oversee a massive increase in surveillance of the internet, The Register has learned, quashing suggestions the plans are on hold until after the election.
The new Communications Capabilities Directorate (CCD) has been created as a structure to implement the £2bn Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), sources said.
The CCD is staffed by the same officials who have have been working on IMP since 2007, but it establishes the project on a more formal basis in the Home Office. It is not yet included on the Home Office's list of directorates.
The intelligence and law enforcement agencies have pushed hard for new laws to force communications providers to store details of who contacts whom, when, where and how via the internet.
However, following a consultation last year, when the Home Office's plans were heavily criticised by ISPs and mobile companies, it was widely assumed progress on IMP would slow or stop. The CCD has continued meeting with industry to try to allay concerns about the project's costs, effect on customer privacy and technical feasibility.
"The Home Office has long been working with communications service providers to take forward legislation providing for the retention of communications data," a Home Office spokesman said. "That is continuing."
"More recently, we have been considering how, in a changing communications environment, lawful acquisition of communications data and interception of communications can continue to save lives, to counter terrorism, to detect crime and prosecute offenders, and to protect the public."
Officials envisage communications providers will maintain giant databases of everything their customers do online, incluing email, social networking, web browsing and making VoIP calls. They want providers to process the mass of data to link it to individuals, to make it easier for authorities to access.
Access to communications data is currently governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Under European legslation ISPs are required to retain basic information about what their customers do online, but not to open their data packets to record who they contact on Facebook, for example.
The Home Office spokesman added: "This is a diverse range of activity now organised within a single Communications Capabilities Directorate with its focus on work under current legislation.
"The Directorate will continue to consider the challenges posed by new technologies, working closely with communications service providers and others to bring forward proposals that command public confidence and demonstrate an appropriate balance between privacy and security."
Work is also continuing at GCHQ in Cheltenham on its classified Mastering the Internet programme, which is developing systems and methods for extracting intelligence from the huge volumes of new surveillance data online services can generate. ®
Time to start investing in setting up tor nodes all over the country/world. Fuck these fascist pigs and their invasion of our private lives.
it was widely assumed progress on IMP would slow
You must be joking - they are going ahead with this regardless of what parliament, the government or tiny people like us tax payers say or want.
This tail is going to carry on wagging the dog until the very last - far too much pork in the barrel.
Remind me again
Last time anyone died from terror on the UK mainland was back in 2005, the London Tube attack. Even then, only 56 people died (tragically).
In the following five years around 500,000 have died from smoking related causes. Half a million people.
Around 17,500 have died on the roads.
Perhaps 20,000 have died in domestic accidents.
So here, take my cheque for £100. What are you going to spend it on if you want to save life?
What are you going to do with a cheque for £2bn if you want to ensure people don't die unnecessarily?
This plan is naked fascism. It has got nothing to do with preserving life.