Sunday, October 5, 2008

Spy on us, we're British

The Times reports:

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 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.

It seems likely that private contractors -- in addition to the government -- would have access to this stored data. Any way you look at this, this proposal sounds crazy.


  1. Spy on us, we're French!

    Although France's case is more about filing than actual spying, it seems using technology to control citizens is a transnational trend.

    The French government created a police file (called "Edvige") in June of this year. It was supposed to automatically collect and register personal data of three categories of people: (a) anybody who held a political, trade-union or economic mandate, or who plays a significant institutional, economic, social, or religious role; (b) people likely to disturb public order; (c) those who assume the responsibility of conducting a state mission and are subject to an administrative investigation.

    Forgive my imprecise translation. Most of these terms (like, for instance, "public order") are precisely defined in French law. Check out EDRI's website for more details (

    This police file raised concern among many in France. A petition against Edvige gathered more than 200,000 signatures. The project is now being revised.

  2. Julien,

    Interesting. It sounds as if, in general, police powers in France already far exceed that of the UK.

    I read (b) and I think: OK, this being France, who doesn't fall into this category? Great thing about the French is that they don't hesitate to take to the streets if they feel the state has crossed a line.


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