Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Big Brother Bother Bigger

Intelligence Services and Police seek carte-blanche surveillance powers

8th December 2000

A recently leaked document has revealed that British security and intelligence agencies are urging the Home Office to grant them total access to every telephone call, e-mail and internet connection made in the UK. This draconian new bid for greater surveillance powers was revealed a classified document - written by Roger Gaspar, the deputy director-general of the National Criminal Intelligence Services - and leaked into the public domain in early December.

Presenting the plan on behalf of MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Customs and Excise and the Association of Chief Police Officers, Roger Gaspar wrote: "Legislation should require every CSP [communication service provider] to retain all communications data originating or terminating in the UK, or routed through the UK networks, including any such data that is stored offshore."

The document requests the Home Office should draft legislation allowing intelligence services to monitor all individual communications at will and keep all data on a central computer for "a period of seven years or as long as the prosecuting authorities direct." This latest attempt by police and intelligence service for total 'big brother' surveillance over the entire population comes hot on the heels of the highly controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act which was put forward by the New Labour government and passed into law this year. The RIP Act increases the security service's eavesdropping powers on internet traffic and includes the placing black boxes in Internet Service Provider main-frames to allow instant access to internet communications without notice or warrant.

In September, the Home Office also announced it was to spend a further £109 million on expanding the new DNA database on British citizens. DNA swabs have become a routine procedure for those apprehended by police. The UK now has the most DNA-profiled population in the world with 940,000 profiles currently on the database and 6000 new ones added each week. DNA profiles are supposed to be deleted if the person is not convicted. However an inspection of the database by the Home Office Inspectorate of Constabulary in July of this year revealed that 50,000 DNA profiles which should have been deleted had been retained.

Yaman Akdenis, director of UK Internet rights group Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties condemns the latest proposals for full communications surveillance and storage as possessing a blatant disregard for personal liberties. "The requirements are unreasonable," he says. " It sounds like they're assuming we're all criminals by default. It's not justified in a democratic society."

Useful Links
Read the leaked submission from the National Criminal Intelligence Service to the Home Office at
For more general information on DNA database's and communications surveillance check out