Feeds

Home Office spawns new unit to expand internet surveillance

One acronym to rule them all

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.