Walls really do have ears now

Nothing to hide, everything to lose.

keep your mouth shutkeep your mouth shut

The powers in the coroners and justice bill will reverse the fundamental data protection principle that information provided to one government agency for one purpose should not normally be used by another for a different purpose. See here.

Bill Thompson from Index on Censorship informs us that:

The UK government’s decision to press forward with implementation of the European Union directive on data retention by communications service providers is hardly surprising given that Britain had pushed hard for its initial adoption.

From 15 March Internet service providers and telephone companies will be required to keep records of the communications of their customers. Every email sent or received, every website visited and the numbers of every call made or text exchanged will be kept for a year so that law enforcement agencies can search them during their investigations.

The records will be kept by the companies themselves, but the Home Office is also pushing forward with their Interception Modernisation Programme, aiming to have information stored in a central database to which all relevant agencies will have access.

I think that Bill Thompson is giving our Government too much credit for innovation. The devisors of the European Interoperability Framework have been beetling away for many years. We are told that:

Interoperability is the key condition to developing pan-European eGovernment services, and that, in order to reach such interoperability, an agreed European Interoperability Framework constitutes a necessary condition.

The European Interoperability Framework is based on the premise that each Member State has, or is in the process of developing, its national Government Interoperability Framework (GIF).

Consequently, the European Interoperability Framework focuses on supplementing rather than replacing, National Interoperability Frameworks by adding the pan-European dimension. By providing recommendations and defining generic standards with regard to organizational, semantic and technical aspects of interoperability, it offers a comprehensive set of principles for European cooperation in eGovernment.

EU action planEU action planThe aim is to have all EU states have the same technical systems, provide egovernment services and eventually Pan European eGovernment services. This may sound benign if you wish to claim say pension rights from several different EU governments or agencies but does mean that index on censorship man is quite correct in that the emails of a whistleblower or journalist can be sifted through at will.

Bill Thompson adds:

Whatever limits are currently in place on who gets access to the stored records, once the database is there it will be used. This should worry us all but it is particularly concerning for any journalist working in the UK.

The law does not provide any special protection or privilege for us, and emails sent to or from indexoncensorship.org, bbc.co.uk and guardian.co.uk will be stored along with everyone else’s.

That is going to make leak inquiries a lot easier. For example, if I write a story that embarrasses the justice secretary then it will be possible to go back through a year’s worth of my emails and texts to see if I’ve had any contact at all with potential leakers inside the department and focus investigation on them.

Similarly your membership of any organisation that does not meet official approval could be investigated. Remote hacking will be the norm because it will be so much easier than confiscating computers and mobiles and no warrant is needed. Other information about your health records and tax status can be gathered and, if PC Plod thinks you're into nefarious practices then she can share your data with say, the Bulgarian police.

Bulgaria can ask for a fast track extradition warrant ( voted for by the way not only by your Labour but also your Lib Dem MEPs) and you're in a cell with a stand up loo, if you're very lucky, for the duration.

Europa reassures us that:

The need for tight security may sometimes appear to clash with the need to exchange information effectively. However, STESTA: Secure Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations offers an appropriate solution. It constitutes the European Community's own private network, isolated from the Internet and allows officials from different Ministries to communicate at a trans-European level (up to EU restricted) in a safe and prompt way.

So that's OK then, our officials cannot be snooped upon.

Image above thanks to Grigory Pasko and is a Soviet propaganda poster from the Great Patriotic War.It says: "DON'T BLAB! ... Be on your toes, ... In days like this ... The walls have ears. ... It's not far from blabbing ... and gossiping ... TO TREASON." (rhymes in Russian, naturally)

2nd image is for REAL! The logo says: EU: Data-sharing and e-networks central to EU's Freedom, Justice and Security Action Plan