UK counter-terrorism boss wants unfettered data access

Jun 17, 2014
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UK counter-terrorism boss wants unfettered data access

A new report submitted by the General Director of the Office for Security and Counter-terrorism in the UK has some surprising takes on surveillance. According to Charles Farr, because some data centers reside outside of the UK, all surveillance should be fair game. This would extend beyond public chats and into private correspondence.


Previous agreements on surveillance had to do with residence. This came to light when the NSA denied spying on foreign entities, saying their efforts focussed on surveillance to protect the home turf. They weren’t quite a forthcoming as they should have been, and this revelation follows a similar path.

According to Farr, because all the largest data centers — and in some cases all the data centers — reside outside of British domain, they should be subject to open surveillance by UK law enforcement bodies. Of course, this was met with rigorous rebuke by Google, who said “Google has not joined any program that would create a 'back door' for government to access private user data.” They also noted they honor all properly submitted and approved requests by law enforcement.

Farr is talking about bulk surveillance, though, noting “The only practical way in which the government can ensure that it is able to obtain at least a fraction of the type of communication in which it is interested is to provide for the interception of a large volume of communications”. Better watch what you say next time you send your Nan a “Happy Birthday” email if Farr’s plan is put in effect.

Source: The Guardian


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