08 July 2009

Policing the Function Creep...

Remember how the poor darlings in the UK government absolutely *had to* allow interception of all our online activities so that those plucky PC Plods could maintain their current stunning success rate in their Whirr on Terruh and stuff like that? Well, it seems that things have changed somewhat:

Detectives will be required to consider accessing telephone and internet records during every investigation under new plans to increase police use of communications data.

The policy is likely to significantly increase the number of requests for data received by ISPs and telephone operators.

Just as every investigation currently has to include a strategy to make use of its subjects' financial records, soon CID officers will be trained to always draw up a plan to probe their communications.

The plans have been developed by senior officers in anticipation of the implementation of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the government's multibillion pound scheme to massively increase surveillance of the internet by storing details of who contacts whom online.

Er, come again? "CID officers will be trained to always draw up a plan to probe their communications"? How does that square with this being a special tool for those exceptional cases when those scary terrorists and real hard naughty criminals are using tricky high-tech stuff like email? Doesn't it imply that we are all terrorist suspects and hard 'uns now?

Police moves to prepare for the glut of newly accessible data were revealed today by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams. She predicted always considering communications data will lead to a 20 per cent increase in the productivity of CID teams.

She told The Register IMP had "informed thinking" about use of communications data, but denied the plans gave the lie to the government line that massively increased data retention will "maintain capability" of law enforcement to investigate crime.

Well, Mandy Rice-Davies applies, m'lud...

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14 comments:

Roger Lancefield said...

"Police moves to prepare for the glut of newly accessible data"

That would be *our*, by rights, private data forming that "glut"?

She predicted always considering communications data will lead to a 20 per cent increase in the productivity of CID teams

So, police "productivity" rates can be increased marginally if our fundamental human rights are ignored? What will the measures be the next time a productivity boost is deemed necessary?

I'm fast coming to the belief that the biggest threats to the British people are own disconnected-from-majority-opinion security services with their cancerous, paranoid and futile quest for "total security", a quest that if unchecked is eventually going to make prisoners of us all.

glyn moody said...

Utterly extraordinary, isn't? And they seem so oblivious of what they're saying and doing...

Roger Lancefield said...

I think at this point we have to assume that there is nothing "thoughtless" or inadvertent about what is happening. Given the volume of concern expressed by senior establishment figures including lawyers, MPs, journalists, senior policemen and even an ex-head of the ICO, I don't think the "ignorance" assumption is credible anymore, if it ever was.

Given the number of MPs in the current government with arts and humanities degrees, who are fully aware of the lessons of 20th Century history, members are not going to be able to claim at a later date "we didn't realise what we were doing". That's just not going to wash.

I was wrong in my earlier comment to single out the security services for blame for the dangerous situation we're now in. They can only operate in the space, and with the powers, bestowed upon them by the law and by the government.

glyn moody said...

Let's hope 2010 doesn't disappoint us, then, or I may be leaving the country...

Roger Lancefield said...

From The Register article:

More broadly, new National Police Improvement Agency guidelines will insist on computer training at every stage of development, so that once they are senior investigators, detectives will be "experts" in digital investigation. All current detectives will also be expected to acquire new skills.

My prediction (hardly a unique one): police will demand "registration" of all encryption keys within next 24 to 36 months.

glyn moody said...

But surely with RIPA, they don't need to: either you hand it over when they ask for it, or it's 2 years porridge...

Roger Lancefield said...

Wow. I missed that, is that already a clause in the Act?

glyn moody said...

Oh my word yes:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7102180.stm

the rozzers are already ahead of you, Lancefield: better watch your step, sonny...

Roger Lancefield said...

Bloody hell! It's even worse than I thought. Gobsmacked.

glyn moody said...

Sorry to ruin your Wednesday. And Thursday, Friday...

Crosbie Fitch said...

What if there was a standard file-delete utility supplied with Linux (for deleting e-mail, etc.) that deliberately encrypted files for deletion with a random key?

This would mean that all Linux PCs contained encrypted data to which the owner did not possess the key.

When the situation of PC owners not being cognisant of keys becomes commonplace, then failure to produce keys should no longer be implicitly wilful.

As an aside, copyright enforcement measures are one of the very things that are going to persuade more widespread adoption of encryption by the layman.

glyn moody said...

@Crosbie: nice one...but then the UK authorities would just pass a law banning the technique....

Anonymous said...

Embrace - Extend - Extinguish.

glyn moody said...

yup