Thursday, 30 July 2009

Information Commissioner slams IMP

The new Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham has slammed the Intercept Modernisation Programme IMP in his reply to the Home Office's ironically named consultation: "Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment," " saying this proposal represented: "a step change in the relationship between the citizen and the state". He says that the Home office has presented a scenario between doing nothing and building a massive state-run central warehouse of internet communications data - which would see ISPs and mobile operators store data on all customers. Mr Graham suggested collection of extra communications data on a targeted basis, acting on suspicion or intelligence gathered through other means.

The government spin has been that no content would be intercepted without a warrant under RIPA. However, it is argued that the current distinction in law between communications data (who contacts whom, etc) and content (what they say) is meaningless when applied to the internet via deep packet inspection, as all communications over the internet involve packets of data.

IMP will monitor website visits, instant messenger and social networking contacts, along with email and VoIP use. Once probes are deployed, sources say they will be remotely configured by GCHQ.

Mr Graham said there were serious privacy issues involved and that 'function creep' would inevitably result.

But then the reason for consultation documents is to give he impression of 'public involvement' and then to totally ignore the responses.

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