The U.K. has always been a strange place in terms of security policy and the amount of CCTV cameras per citizen, but this is just going a step too far. If you aren't already aware, the U.S. and various security agencies (namely the NSA) already monitor online chatter in real-time, but they just don't admit it freely. The U.K. government is at least putting the news out there.
Under new U.K. legislation, Internet service and broadband providers will be obligated to pass personal browsing, e-mail and call data to the intelligence services for real-time processing. Shocking, isn't it? These new "Internet firms" could also include things outside the basic three options listed above, such as social networks and search engines. This would mean everything you type into Google, Facebook, Twitter and more would be accessed, in real-time.
Access to ISP logs will be opened up to the government on-demand. Scared yet? Currently, the 'third' U.K. intelligence service, GCHQ, which is a signals and electronics station based in Cheltenham, process call, web and e-mail data, but not the contents of the data itself. ISPs, on the other hand, do process this data within their facilities and datacenters. The new legislation would force ISPs to 'mirror' all traffic through GCHQ allowing for more detailed inspection on a law enforcement level to quickly process information as it happens.
A Home Office spokesperson confirmed the upcoming legislation could be implemented as "soon as parliamentary time allows". A spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement to ZDNet:
It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.
Under current U.K. law, GCHQ as well as police and other law enforcement agencies, would require a Home Secretary-issued or court-ordered search warranty to ISPs if they wanted data to inspect on a particular suspect. The new legislation would still require a search warranty to access the specific details of calls, e-mails and Web activity. This personal content can still be requested under a search warrant presented to the ISP, but GCHQ would not process this data automatically.
The new legislation would allow the intelligence services to trace people's communications with anyone they come in contact with, who they are contacting, and how long for. The new legislation would also force ISPs to install routing hardware in their facilities to open up access to GCHQ as and when it is necessary.
The invading legislation is expected to be announced at the Queen's Speech in May. This speech is the only communication the Queen gives that is not written by her. The speech is written by legislators, specifically at Downing Street, the home and office of the prime minister. This isn't the first time something like this has been strived for.
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