Following the broadband money

How freedom DRIPs away

with 5 comments

We don’t normally move away from broadband, but this is a worthy exception because it bears on the kind of society that access to broadband opens up.

Last April the European Court of Justice struck down the Data Retention Directive . This is the basic European legislation that allows governments to implement legislation that enables them to collect, store and share communications data. The ECJ said it was too broad and there were too few safeguards to protect against abuse of the privilege.

This meant that the UK’s mass surveillance of its citizens’ communications lacked a legal basis. The Home Office told ISPs (which ones is secret)  to continue to collect, store and share this data on demand with up to tens of thousands of public sector workers under the RIPA law. Privacy groups started court proceedings against the ISPs.

The government last week introduced primary legislation it said would restore its powers, nothing more. Now legal academics have challenged that view.

Paul Bernal, a professor at East Anglia, has published an open letter to MPs and lords calling for considered debate of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) and a halt to the “emergency” rush to turn the bill into law tomorrow.

“In fact, the Bill proposes to extend investigatory powers considerably, increasing the British government’s capabilities to access both communications data and content. The legislation goes far beyond simply authorising data retention in the UK. In fact, DRIP attempts to extend the territorial reach of the British interception powers, expanding the UK’s ability to mandate the interception of communications content across the globe. It introduces powers that are not only completely novel in the United Kingdom, they are some of the first of their kind globally.”

If passed the bill will give legal cover to the mass surveillance activities of GCHQ and the NSA exposed by the Snowden revelations.

Most European countries have either not implemented the Data Retention Directive (Germany decided it breached their constitution) or have struck down their enabling legislation to comply with the ECJ’s decision.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/07/16 at 10:09

5 Responses

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  1. Hmm, been wondering about thank you. .


    Gail Purvis Editor


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    Gail Purvis

    2014/07/16 at 11:35

  2. hmm interesting… as an ISP here who isn’t currently subject to the various filters and blocks on otherwise legitimate sites that gov or certain industries do not like, I wonder how this DRIP is going to affect is ?

    It would be awfully convenient if only a few select Major ISP’s existed in the country so this scheme could be implemented UK wide easily. Those pesky small ISP’s that are not parasitic from one of the Majors and are not therefore pre-monitorable must be a real pain in this plan?

    It’s a good job BT OR gained the BDUK funding! .. phew we can all sleep safe now..



    2014/07/28 at 19:16

    • Bruce Schneier coined the phrase “security theatre”. With BT, VM, Sky and TalkTalk doing around 90% of the interconnections, that leaves plenty of space for bad guys to do their research and evade surveillance if they want to use the internet. Of course, they might just realise that the internet isn’t as free from surveillance as we used to think, and use alternative methods, such as a code based on a book, as Le Carre suggested in *A Perfect Spy*. Good luck finding the right book. But that’s why the spooks like to use metadata. We are all creatures of habit, and collecting the metadata eventually provides the patterns that we repeat, through ignorance or laziness or circumstance.


      2014/07/28 at 21:15

      • Oh its easy the gov will just say all ‘internet’ connectivity shall be filtered (e.g IWF/Phorm/whoever wants to pay) an all EU facing providers will be obliged to filter – if they can’t or won’t its easy enough to force it onto the upstream providers before they hand off the traffic – then only the true alt nets will be free!

        I could quite easy see BT/TT/VM all doing this within there core networks now and you wouldn’t even know…

        As for hoovering up data and spying on people – what’s the point of worring about it now. Projects such as carnivor, tempora and others elluded to by mr snowden are just the tip of the ice berg… I know what we can already do on networks with the tools you can buy now. Its not hard to tap someone optical cct and suck up all the data without em having the faintest idea what’s going on.

        Maybe this is why bt are soo keen for everyone to stay on adsl – nice easy copper lines people can tap 😉


        2014/08/01 at 16:48

      • and of course tap VDSL , sorry *cough* Fibre 🙂 , it always makes me chuckle when people question the security of fixed wireless compared to fixed line. They seem unaware of the non encrypted status of what wobbles along copper cables and the simplicity of tapping into it without any complex tools or expensive gadgetry.. same for phone calls etc..

        With FWA you need to have the ability to crack 256 or higher AES which requires a lot more effort . Even more difficult if the keys change regularly ..


        2014/08/01 at 17:29

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