Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.
GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion [of our money] to finance the first stage of the project.
Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country’s biggest internet and mobile phone providers – thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.
Ministers are braced for a backlash similar to the one caused by their ID cards programme. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: “Any suggestion of the government using existing powers to intercept communications data without public discussion is going to sound extremely sinister.”
No, I don’t believe there should be a backlash – I think we should help them out.
I propose we send them, from today, a daily record of our browsing habits and a copy of every email we receive and send. By post and email.
Even just 5m customers will give them a nice lot of data to be smothered by choke on work through.
The Home Office stressed no formal decision had been taken but sources said officials had made clear that ministers had agreed “in principle” to the programme.
In other news, “Bear Catholic, Pope uses outdoor toilet facilities”.
Gordon Brown is preparing for a humiliating climbdown over his proposal to hold terrorist suspects for 42 days after being told that it will be defeated in the House of Lords.
Ministers admit privately that there is not “a cat in Hell’s chance” of the legislation, which returns to the Lords this week, being passed into law….
The Government says no:
Downing Street insists it is pushing ahead with attempts to extend terror detention without charge to 42 days.
Gordon Brown’s official spokesman said the prime minister believed this was the “right thing to do”. (the BBC)
By the way, I’d like to point out that it isn’t merely an argument about the number of days one may be held without charge – already the longest period in the free world – but also the process, particularly the involvement of the Commons (a legislative body) in what should be a purely judicial function.
The complexity of the process gives Andy Hayman “a headache”. He also writes that,
The debate over 90 days was fierce, the Metropolitan Police got drawn in and we had our fingers badly burnt.
It didn’t seem that the Met was so much drawn in but rather that some chief officers leapt forward to support it (Andy Hayman wrote a peculiar letter). I suppose it didn’t help that Tony Blair & co. demanded asked chief constables for their support thoughts.
Sources from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) have revealed that the devices are failing to detect when two people pass through them at the same time.
The system, which replaces traditional passport control measures, is undergoing a “live trial” at Manchester Airport, where a UKBA worker said it was suffering almost daily malfunctions.
He said immigration officers had been able to accompany travellers through the scanners without an alarm being triggered, even though the booths are supposed to detect if more than one person enters at a time.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “It is pretty much impossible that someone could get through border control by tailgating. The trial is heavily supervised, there is someone watching the gates and watching them on a monitor. The purpose of this trial is to establish that the gates are operating effectively.”
We seem to enjoy being leaders in the use of unproven, easily broken, liberty infringing technologies:
The Home Office project is the first in the world to use the scanners at a major international airport.
For some litigants, the award of £60,000 and a declaration that a liking for sado-masochistic orgies with prostitutes is broadly nobody else’s business would have been a satisfactory outcome. But not all litigants are 68-year-old Formula One bosses with a burning sense of injustice and a desire to foist a privacy law on Britain.
Max Mosley who this summer won damages at the High Court in London from the News of the World after the newspaper claimed that a sex party attended by him involved Nazi role-playing, will today take a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to force a change in British law which would require editors to contact the subjects of any revelations before publishing allegations about their private lives. …
I’m not keen on that – although I acknowledge I might support it if I was in his jackboots.
[hat-tip Andrew Watson]
Kable (my emphasis in bold):
The Home Office has reversed its guidance that foreign nationals applying for benefits would have to produce an identity card, a day after it was issued
The new “level 1 guidance”, published on 26 September, says that contrary to a document issued by the Home Office the day before, it will not be mandatory for people from outside the EU to show their identity cards to officials if they want to claim benefits.
… Whereas the new guidance says that “employers are not legally required to check documents“, another document on the department’s website say that “employers will be required to check the card to ensure that the person is entitled to live and work in the United Kingdom if they wish to establish statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty”. …