Civil Liberties

Privacy Complaints Scuttle Plan for British Database

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In the February issue of Reason, I noted the British government's plan to assemble a giant database of all communication traffic in the U.K., include websites visited, phone numbers dialed, and email addresses of message senders and recipients. Law enforcement agencies would be able to use the information at their discretion, although they would still need ministerial warrants (a kind of administrative subpoena) to read the contents of messages or listen to phone calls. The Independent reports that a public outcry about the privacy implications of the dragnet has led the government to abandon the plan, at least until after the election. The paper quotes "a Whitehall source" who says the project is "in the very long grass," which I gather is a quaint British expression, possibly derived from cricket, meaning that the plan may yet be revived, but not in the immediate future.

More on privacy in the U.K. here, here, and here.

[Thanks to Eric Jon Magnuson for the tip.]

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  1. So the British public finally came out of their collective coma regarding privacy rights?

    High time; I figured it would take a government video camera in every living room before they’d rebel.

    1. “”So the British public finally came out of their collective coma regarding privacy rights?”””

      Probably not. But if our own experience means anything, the British gov will just change the name of the program from X to Y. Then talk about how they are no longer doing X.

  2. The paper quotes “a Whitehall source” who says the project is “in the very long grass,” which I gather is a quaint British expression, possibly derived from cricket, meaning that the plan may yet be revived, but not in the immediate future.

    Sounds to me like a golf thing. A golf ball in tall grass is hard to hit, a cricket ball’s being there doesn’t make much of a difference either way, I don’t think.

    Anyway, it’s nice that they’re nixing this…

    1. They’re only nixing it temporarily, or perhaps altogether to allow it to more easily go black. Don’t forget, this is the island that gave us James Bond.

  3. possibly derived from cricket

    RIP Cricket.

    1. You bite you tongue.

  4. Can’t the Brits just zoom those sercurity cameras in a little tighter and read emails that way?

  5. “We…are going…to hunt you…Cricket!”

    1. Absolute gold epi, I thought for sure I wasnt going to find a reason to laugh reading the comments of this post.

      1. There’s always a reason to laugh, Trip. You just have to find it.

  6. Big Brother, how many fingers?

    1. I am hoping the answer is one.

  7. A golf ball in tall grass is hard to hit, a cricket ball’s being there doesn’t make much of a difference either way, I don’t think.

    True. A cricket ball in long grass has already been hit, unless the pitch hasn’t been taken care of. Back on topic, good news, and fuck Jaqui Smith with (your choice) 1: a cricket bat 2: a 3 wood.

    1. true, a cricket ball in long grass has already been hit. But that doesn’t mean the length of the grass is not an issue in cricket. The longer grass near the boundary can slow down a ball that’s been hit and is bouncing / rolling on the ground, making it easier to stop it before it gets to the boundary (which would be an automatic four runs).

      Having bored you all with that observation, i shall add that i doubt the term derives from any one sport – more likely to be from the old gardening practice of trimmed lawn and untrimmed grass beyond that.

      Re fucking Jacqui Smith, i’d rather avoid physical contact with any member of the NuLab Government. How about exiling her to the Big Brother house?

  8. Can’t the Brits just zoom those sercurity cameras in a little tighter and read emails that way?

    They’re too busy turning the cameras into basilisk guns to prepare for AZORIAN BLUE HADES.

    1. You keep your computational demonology to yourself, mister. This is no place to make such esoterica exoteric.

      1. I have my Hand of Glory on me, briareus. Do you?

        (begins summoning)

        1. I was about to complain about this thread not sprouting from my original comment where it belonged, but now that I see where it went… thank you.

  9. i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, what a horrid little island.

  10. As always, it’s like looking into our future.

    1. Britain was our past and is our future. That’s nice. Nice and depressing.

  11. A Labour Party canvasser came by my apartment the other day to ask about who I was voting for in the local and general elections. I told her there was no way I’d be voting labour – primarily due to privacy concerns. She nodded and gave me a look of resignation.

    1. She nodded and gave me a look of resignation.

      …and noted your address for the reeducation squad?

      -jcr

      1. If it was in the US they wouldn’t bother with the address- they would just GPS the front door.

        1. Or they’d get ACORN to make one up.

          1. What are you trying to hide cooper?

  12. the British government’s plan to assemble a giant database of all communication traffic in the U.K. […] a public outcry about the privacy implications of the dragnet has led the government to abandon continue to keep secret the plan.

    Ha, as if they aren’t already spying on their own citizenry, the only difference is right now the evidence wouldn’t be permissible in court.

  13. I admire the way that the british government still tries to keep information secret that is already freely available in the US.

  14. …at least until after the election…

    *SIGH* Yeah.

    BTW, does anyone actually know the rules to cricket? Does cricket even have rules? Trying to figure it out by watching a game is like trying to understand an automatic transmission by examining the parts. You know it works somehow, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    1. yes. It has too many rules but is basically pretty simple
      Its a great example of globalisation. All the money and power is now with india and last year terrorists in pakistan attacked the Sri Lankan team who were the only team that would tour there. Pakistan now play their home matches in England and the last Indian Premier league was held in South Africa.

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