Tomorrow the Home Secretary appears before the Home Affairs Select Committee to discuss, among other things, the Communications Capability Development Programme.
This is a crucial opportunity for the Home Secretary to offer detail that has been badly lacking in the debate around CCDP and to offer the public an explanation of what has been planned. As we have repeatedly highlighted, much of the public concern about the policy could have been addressed with a more transparent and thorough policy making process.
We’ve summarised the key issues below and we look forward to the Home Secretary being able to address the concerns shared by businesses, civil liberties groups and MPs on all sides of the house.
What we know:
Media statements by the Home Office have confirmed two key aspects of the CCDP proposals:
- Increased retention of ‘header’ data (who emailed who & when) extended from phone companies to Internet Service Providers and other services (potentially social media companies)
- Real time monitoring through physical ‘black boxes’ being installed on the UK’s internet architecture
What we do not know:
- How much it will cost, either the taxpayer or businesses
- Detail of what is ‘communications data’ to be retained
- Whether it is technically feasible (particularly in respect of encrypted communications)
- Who will have access to the data once it is collected, and by what authorisation
- Whether it will require deep-packet inspection of web traffic
- Why has this not been put in place before the Olympics if it is so crucial?
- Will higher level of encryption and the use of Tor/Proxies render the programme far less useful than is being claimed?
- Will threats be driven underground or into ‘dark nets’, making them harder to detect?
- Why does no other democratic state has this kind of monitoring
- The use of RIPA to obtain data does not require a judicial warrant – will RIPA be amended to restrict use of communications data to police and security services?
- Where is the evidence it will actually help prevent an attack?
- What will the cost be for Government and for the economy, particularly in terms of investment in high-speed internet access and data-driven companies moving abroad?
- Once monitoring capability is installed, will proposals for controlling what web content can be seen be the next step?
The Coalition Agreement states:
- “We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.”
- “We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason.”
The 7/7 Inquest stated:
“Post 7/7 enquiries revealed that between 22nd February and 15th June 2005 there were forty one telephone contacts between mobile phones attributed to Tanweer, Khan, and Lindsay and hydroponics outlets. It is unlikely these could have been detected by surveillance given the large number of untraceable “operational” phones used by the bombers and only attributed to them once their identities and details were known.”