Posted by: greengorilla47 | 06/10/2008

Are no personal messages off-limits from Government spying?
Michael Meacher, 5/10/08

Deep Packet Inspection may not mean much, but it ought to bring to a head the simmering tension over privacy between personal liberties and fighting terrorism which the Government has been dragging far too far in the direction of State control.

Deep Packet Inspection refers to equipment which the Home Office is planning to embed with internet and mobile phone providers (such as BT and Vodafone) so as to monitor and store the calls and emails of everyone in Britain all the time. This is a staggering project in every sense – cost, complexity, and unprecedented intrusiveness in ordinary people’s lives and their most intimate communications.

It goes even further than the Government’s other massive programmes of prying on citizens via identity cards, car number plate recognition, and increasingly universal CCTV. The scope of the new plan is mind-numbing. Last year there were 57bn text messages sent, mobile calls made totalling 99bn, and a trillion emails sent.

The ostensible purpose of this ultimate Big Brother surveillance programme is to fight crime and terrorism which it is said are aimed at destroying the values of our society. But there comes a point when the totalitarian methods deployed to root out crime and terrorism can insidiously undermine the fundamental values and principles of British society even more than the evil they seek to eradicate. With this latest Orwellian monstrosity, there can be no doubt we are well past that point.

Interception of calls and emails is already occurring on a far greater scale than is generally understood. Very few people realise that there are over 650 bodies which can already legally have their communications intercepted by the authorities, or that last year this was exercised in over half a million cases. I have put down PQs asking, for each of the last 10 years, how many of these calculated intercepts actually yielded information material to trapping terrorists and criminals. What is now proposed is a totally indiscriminate monitoring of the unimaginably vast database of all calls and emails by everyone everywhere all the time in this country, and the hit rate for gathering relevant information must decline to utterly infinitesimal proportions.

There are several reasons for stopping this latest venture in its tracks. The expected cost is £12bn, which on past experience of vast Government IT projects is all too likely to escalate dramatically. On the basis of the same evidence it is all too likely not to work. Nor, from several recent notorious episodes, can the authorities be trusted to keep all this personal data secure from being lost, stolen or even corruptly sold on. Nor again can we be sure that official snooping on this scale will not be used for quite other purposes than fighting crime and terrorism – like spying on companies or political opponents, or fishing expeditions to see what is turned up. It would transform Britain from a (relatively) free society into a Stasi-penetrated nightmare.



  1. It should be long obvious to all by now, it is we who are the enemy.

  2. Of course, the Blair and Brown administrations have done exactly as they were told –not asked, told– to do by the Bushco junta.

    As a puppet state of Washington and Langley, British rulers would seem to have hit rock-bottom. We’ve become a banana republic (with an anachronistic monarchy) that has to import its bananas!

    We should ask ourselves the question: just what is it that our rulers have to hide from us that they are bent on turning Britain into a prison camp where transparency is for the proles and the rulers hide in their gated communities of privilege?

    There is something particularly noxious and evil about our rulers which compels them to turn Britain into a panopticon.

    They have always been authoritarians ruling a country divided by class. Neither of those phenomena have disappeared. Indeed, both have become more pronounced.

    It is no irony then that George Orwell chose Britain as the stage for Big Brother’s Airstrip One. He was exactly right. This is what he had to say about it in a letter to one of his readers:

    “we are in danger of a … centralized slave state, ruled over by a small clique who are in effect a new ruling class, though they might be adoptive rather than hereditary. Such a state would not be hedonistic, on the contrary its dynamic would come from some kind of rabid nationalism and leader-worship kept going by literally continuous war … I see no safeguard against this except (a) war-weariness and distaste for authoritarianism which may follow the present war (WWII), and (b) survival of democratic values among the intelligentsia.” (p.468, George Orwell: A Life by Bernard Crick, Secker & Warburg 1980)

    I invite readers to consider this statement in the light of developments both in the USA and Britain …

  3. Oh, and I do like Michael Meacher’s comparison of a totalitarian Britain with the East German Stasi.

    As the USA’s most faithful, joined-at-the-hip, ally it seems to me that Brown’s Britain can be compared with Walter Ulbricht’s East Germany (DDR) which was as fanatically faithful to the Soviet Union as we are to the new fascists in Washington DC.

  4. Get over yourselves! The government has has the ability to wiretap individuals (with good cause and with legal approval from the courts) for decades! I worked on deployment of a lawful interception solution in the Netherlands which had earlier and more progressive requirements for Internet interception for Government bodies. To initiate a request a Law enforcement Agency requires probably cause and a court order to instigate a tap.

    I personally have no issue with the capability used as intended.

  5. Graeme1971, what you are talking about is already in the past. This new system introduces constant, mass surveillance without recourse to the courts. And even the court order process was no more than a rubber stamp.

    Your “good cause” and “legal approval of the courts” was something that was always subjectively loaded in favour of the government where, in any case, the rules of the game shifted with the spurious ‘War on Terror’ introduced by Busco and copied by his quislings in order to destro what civil liberties we had.

    No, YOU may not have an issue but listen to your scornful, arrogant language! You are precisely the kind of techno-freak that the rest of the world needs to be protected from!

    Methinks it’s you who needs to get over a massive ego problem.

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