Feeds

Queen unveils draft internet super-snoop bill - with clauses

Her Maj opens Parliamentary session with clear nod to CCDP

The Power of One Infographic

The Queen has detailed the government's upcoming programme of law-making on a grey day darkened by the gloom of a double-dip recession and plans to massively increase surveillance of the internet in the UK.

Opening the new session of Parliament, Her Majesty confirmed on Wednesday that "draft clauses" would be introduced to allow MPs to scrutinise Home Secretary Theresa May's Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) - the controversial project to allow security services in Blighty to monitor the population online.

Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke hands the Queen her speech

The Queen told politicos and peers in the House of Lords:

My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.

It's unclear if those "strict safeguards" mean that a warrant, for example, would be needed before spooks could access such data. The rough proposal appeared to only fuzzily indicate that such protection for British citizens would be provided, however.

A Home Office document about the proposed draft bill [PDF] stated that an updated framework to aid the "lawful, efficient and effective obtaining of communications data by authorised public authorities including law enforcement and intelligence agencies" would be established.

It added that safeguards such as imposing a 12-month limit on the length of time such private data could be retained by communication service providers would be proposed. The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham will be tasked with reviewing such data retention plans.

The draft communications data bill outlined the following "benefits":

  • "The ability of the police and intelligence agencies to continue to access communications data which is vital in supporting their work in protecting the public."
  • "An updated framework for the collection, retention and acquisition of communications data which enables a flexible response to technological change."

The proposed bill described communications data as being "information about a communication, not the communication itself".

May and her department have tried to bat aside criticism from civil liberties groups by saying that "no emails would be read in real-time".

But many have complained that the cabinet minister's reassurances are unfounded given that the net-snooping plan would involve GCHQ operatives monitoring everything an individual does online, if not snoop on the content of messages.

The time and duration of communications would be probed, as would telephone numbers or email addresses that have been contacted, and "sometimes the location of the originator of the communication".

But beyond that, very little technical detail was offered in the draft communications data bill this morning. The CCDP was originally expected to be included in the crime and courts or justice and security bills - the fact it is now standalone and in draft form will subject it to greater parliamentary scrutiny.

Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg may have behind the scenes forced a serious airing of May's proposals in Parliament, and MPs even within the Coalition are undoubtedly opposed to such a "snoopers' charter", but the fact remains that the Home Office - just like its previous New Labour incumbents - is determined to push its plans to hugely step up surveillance of the internet onto the nation's law books. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.