Full transcript of internet privacy debate now available

Portcullis Big Brother Watch supporters will no doubt be aware of the important debate on privacy and the internet which took place in the Houses of Parliament yesterday.  Only a few, however, were able to make the journey to Parliament to watch the debate in person. 

Opening the debate, Robert Halfon MP said:

"In recent years, we have become increasingly focused on freedom. With every terrorist atrocity, our civil liberties have been curtailed, often in a somewhat draconian manner. I therefore welcome the coalition Government’s determination to redress the balance by reviewing the anti-terrorism legislation, scrapping identity cards, abolishing the national identity register and the contact point database, and halting the next generation of biometric passports.  However, I do not wish to talk about state surveillance this afternoon.

"The issue of civil liberties and internet privacy first came to a head not long after I was elected to this House in May 2010. The newspapers revealed that Google had been mapping people’s personal wi-fi data without their permission… Many privacy campaign groups, such as Big Brother Watch, have raised awareness of the issue in the media"

A full copy of the transcript of the debate – including, amongst others, contributions from former Shadow Home Secretary Rt Hon David Davis MP, Labour's Ian Lucas MP, LibDem Don Foster MP and Nigel Dodds of the DUP – can be found here.

Posted by on Oct 29, 2010 in Home | 7 Comments


  1. Andrew Ampers Taylor
    29th October 2010

    […However, I do not wish to talk about state surveillance this afternoon.]
    Or at any other time?

  2. Andrew Ampers Taylor
    29th October 2010

    I have now read part of the transcript and noted the following that should give more rises of concern than, at present, only being attributed to Google.
    […“downloaded personal data from wireless networks when its fleet of vehicles drove down residential roads taking photographs for its controversial Street View project.]
    Google did this, with cars easily identifiable.
    My concerns here are:
    1. Did they manage to extract information from securely passworded routers?
    2. How fast were the vehicles travelling that they could extract emails and other relevant information from each house, flat and business?
    3. Who else would also be able to do this? Foreign governments? Competing businesses (Commercial Espionage)? {Uncle Tom Cobley and all?}
    If the answer to (1) above is “No” then there is not a problem as we can educate people to put passwords in, but if it is “Yes” then it opens up a new can of worms which was not covered at the conference.
    PS I like street view as if I am meeting someone in London, I can email a Google map, and a jpg of the street view of the venue which people find useful.

  3. alastair
    29th October 2010

    1. No.
    2. It isn’t just about the speed the cars were travelling; it also has to do with the way Google was scanning for WiFi packets. IIRC their documents suggested that their cars would switch channels quite frequently so there would be very few frames per WiFi network captured overall.
    3. Anyone. You could do it yourself, with a laptop from the middle of your street. That’s why I pointed out before that unencrypted WiFi frames ARE PUBLIC unless you’ve taken measures to prevent your WiFi signal from leaking off your property.
    Basically, WiFi works like a loudhailer – anyone in range can hear it. If you want privacy, you either need to ensure that nobody else is in range, or you need to talk in code. Same with WiFi.
    Also, the “downloaded personal data” part is incorrect. That implies that Google went and actively requested personal data from something connected to the network. That’s *NOT* what happened.

  4. Andrew Ampers Taylor
    29th October 2010

    Thank you for that.
    So, like many things in life, it all boils down to information and common sense.
    [a greatly relieved] Ampers

  5. SadButMadLad
    29th October 2010

    On the point about the address of the women’s refuge that Google the showed on Streetview. That’s only possible the if the refuge had their address on a webpage somewhere. Google can’t tell one house from another, nor one address from another. It will be the refuge who advertised their location, albeit unintentionally. Though I don’t believe they have advertised their refuge’s address at all (see later). It is not the fault of Google to show the details on Streetview on in a normal search result.
    A quick search of “Women’s Aid Milton Keynes” will show the address.
    But is that the address of the refuge or the organisation office address? I suspect the later, because if you actually look at streetview it only shows offices.
    So Mark Lancaster is being a bit disengenous in stating that Google is higlighting secret addresses and refusing to censor it. Firstly it’s not a secret address, it’s an office addres. And secondly the address is shown on a website which has nothing to do with Google.
    Either that or he knows nothing about how the internet or Google works which wouldn’t be surprising for a politician spouting on about privacy – especially considering that polticians on all sides are authoritarian by nature and want to know all the private details of the public – for “security reasons”.

  6. T .England. Raised from the dead.
    31st October 2010

    “Members of Parliament launched a stinging attack on Google for its harvesting of sensitive personal information by its Street View vehicles”
    Shame they didn’t talk about anything else?
    Schneier Makes Uncorroborated Claims About Google Hack
    “In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access”
    Makes you wonder what else has a back door,
    Obama wants a back door to our social media
    “Obama administration wants to be able to spy on every communication that you make whether it be via smartphone or via services like Facebook and Twitter. It will require a back door “official hack so that nothing is ultimately closed to prying government eyes according to Fox”
    So, back doors, our privacy & being spyed on!

  7. Purlieu
    2nd November 2010

    Re: passworded routers
    ok now chaps