The Communications Data Bill – we are all suspects now

Let’s bust some myths.

Right now – without any new powers – the police and security services can read your emails, tap your phone, plant hidden cameras and microphones in your house and intercept your internet use. All of which can be done without any approval of a judge.

Since 2005, there have been more than 2.7 million requests by police and other public bodies for the communications data belonging to private individuals. Of these, fewer than 10,000 requests have come from local authorities. Oh, and none of those requests were authorised by a judge. For the Home Office to rush out an announcement that local councils will lose their snooping powers is nothing short of deliberate misdirection.

Aside from the blatant spin of announcing unprecedented spying powers during the PM’s testimony to the Leveson enquiry, the Home Office is trying to hide an unprecedented level of surveillance of the entire population behind a miniscule concession of removing the ability to access Communications Data from local councils.

This policy goes against the Coalition Agreement, against Conservative pre-election policy and is fundamentally an illiberal, intrusive boondoggle that will do little to improve national security and do everything to turn us into a nation of suspects.

Before the election, the Prime Minister said that “If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.”

He was absolutely right.

Download our full briefing here.


  1. The Communications Data Bill – we are all suspects now. « Plunder and Salvage
    14th June 2012

    […] the Internet, Online privacy, Privacy, Surveillance, Technology, Terrorism Legislation via Share this:TumblrTwitterMoreFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. Gary Stimson
    14th June 2012

    They announce it on the same day that 74 online paedophiles were arrested.


    Bang goes their spurious claim that the big brother snooping is needed for catching paedophiles…. I guess that just leaves very stupid and careless terrorists.

    • Guest
      14th June 2012

      Indeed, this just proves that existing laws are sufficient to deal with the problem. I often wonder why they want all these extra OTT laws anyway. THEY have something to hide, obviously!

  3. Outraged
    14th June 2012

    This government has sold us all down the river and does not deserve our support – what the option is for the next government goodness knows – Labour is no good, Tories are no good, Lib Dems are no good – so onto the other parties I guess – are any politicians worth voting for – probably not.  How on earth does spying on all of us who are just trying to go about our daily lives, make it easier to catch criminals?  If they can’t catch them when they are focusing on them then how will catch them when they need to wade through the communications of many millions of people and companies?  

    • Anonymous
      14th June 2012

      The RIAA is pushing people onto VPNs, and guess what demographic will not be able to be monitored even after this IMP law comes into effect, *hint* it won’t be just the criminals and pedos.

  4. Morgan
    14th June 2012

    What I really don’t understand is – What the hell is the point when Tor would still get around this….

    Hardened peado’s/terrorists will not be effected by this in any wayA recent freedom of information request proves that even the FBI can’t trace Tor traffic…// the whole scheme seems completely pointless.

  5. mhmediaonline
    14th June 2012

    “The Coalition Agreement states:We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”

    And therein lies the problem! One person’s idea of “good reason” could be to find out who consistently overloads their non-recycling bin.

    This Bill is flawed and unworkable, but we all know they’ll go ahead and implement anyway.

    • Anonymous
      14th June 2012

      We need to make pre-government manifestos legally binding. That is the only way to solve the problem.

  6. Big Dickie
    14th June 2012

    God save the Queen ===D~

  7. Anthony Miller
    15th June 2012

    “Right now – without any new powers – the police and security services can read your emails”  Theoretically but ISP providers obviously wont play ball by giving them the information.  While Google know excactly who accesses my website down to the individual street the government has no idea as it doesn’t control the search engine servers.  This must be very irksome for them.  Although by statute the security services are free to break the law as much as they like … they still need people to cooperate with them in that and it seems those with real power dont want to play ball.

    • Anonymous
      29th August 2012

      Down to the individual street? Yeah. Right. stop believing everything you hear on CSI.

      The most they can get from an IP, without a warrant, is city info. Even then that can be just where the ISP is based, NOT where you actually live which could be 90 miles away.

      • Anthony Miller
        30th August 2012

        Get yourself a google analytics account and then tell me that again. I’m sure if they can map every physical street in the UK mapping the internet is a doddle …although every street may be a bit of an exageration I’m sure it could be done … it’s more a case of the man hours it would involve than whether the information is available. You dont neccessarily need a warrant you need other companies to agree to share information with you. This is why the Data Protection Act was brought in.

  8. This was the week that was – “We’re in this together” | Hotwire Blog
    15th June 2012

    […] with no probable or possible advantage, was met with severe criticism from the liberal left and the libertarian right. In Australia, online retailer, introduced a tax on the outdated Internet Explorer 7 due […]

  9. anon
    16th June 2012

    If the freedoms of its population are sacrificed for the illusion of safety then the nation is no longer worth defending, you cannot protect democracy by abolishing civil liberties. For years we have been told that terrorists want to destroy our way of life, if that is so then this policy shows that they have won.

    • Guest
      18th June 2012

      We are playing right into the terrorists hands anyway, they hate our freedoms, what does the clueless government do? eradicate those freedoms? wtf THE GOVERNMENT ARE TERRORISTS!

  10. Mjg13
    16th June 2012

    What kind of things do you think the intelligence agencies are going to take notice of? to be honest if people are using language that the agencies will be interested in then I want them investigated… the one thing I value more than my privacy is my (inc family and friends and greater society) SAFETY.
    You all come across as middle class idiots who don’t see the trouble that this privacy and rights approach allows. Walk about real society and see that the riots was just a slightly exagerated version of what goes on 24/7 in a lot of places…. so but out of deciding what I want.
    I have nothing to hide…. do you?

    • Outraged
      18th June 2012

      We have been bombarded with the ‘I have nothing to hide, do you have anything to hide’ misleading propaganda for much too long now.  It has nothing to do with ‘hiding’ anything.  We live in a country where we are SUPPOSED to be free.  We are SUPPOSED to have human rights including a right to privacy.  We are SUPPOSED to have a government that values freedom and privacy.  But we don’t.

      I have nothing to hide but that does not mean I want live my life being under permanent surveillance by liars who enjoy playing the game of politics.  

    • Lenny Bruce
      22nd June 2012

      Yes plenty. I have to try to hide my outrage at the way that inside job incidents like the riots, 9/11, 7/7, just to name the best known, are reflectiver of how it is the authorities who are now the biggest criminals who pose a far bigger threat to personal freedom in this country than any terrorist. You sir deserve everything that is coming your way as a result of the pathetically complacent and self-satisfied secure attitude, that has been deliberately instilled in you by a regime that wants your fucking soul.

  11. bangonthemoney
    16th June 2012

    Here we go again….same old crap!….The Conservs and Lib Dems were saying that they were going to cut back on state surveillance and give power back to the individual..(before they were elected)…now they want to do exactly what Labour wanted and which they so strongly objected to. What can we learn from this??…Basically that no matter what governments are in power they all serve the same puppet masters..THE ELITE and BIG CORPORATIONS!…Basically a few very wealthy and powerful families who control the majority of the planets wealth!…In a nutshell..they want to control every individual to an extent that we are overwhelmed with legislation, control, and that every single penny in are pocket is accounted for. They want us to struggle throughout our lives with bills, health etc….It keeps them at the top of the tree and everyone else is too busy surviving day to day that they never see the real picture of the events going on in the world.
    All this bullshit about a war on terror is simply that…the real terrorists are the people who represent these elite and corporations…they want us all existing in fear in our daily lives so that the people feel we need the state. I am not a conspiracy theorist but i do firmly believe that these people were responsible for 911 and 77. I believe there is a plan to dominate the world by the west. The wars in the middle east are all part of this plan, the financial collapse is another aspect of the plan. This was also orchestrated.
     What is the real aim of these new powers…They are designed to stop freedom of opinion and belief!…They want the general population to live in fear of sharing their thoughts and opinions with one another via text,email,phones therefore isolating the individual! These people fear the collective unified majority as it threatens their position!
    The truth is they will never be satisfied with the amount of surveillance and control of the individual and it will get worse and worse over the coming years…unless people stand up now..unified and say NO!…We are not sheep! We have a right to Freedom! We value our freedom as much as the air we breathe!…If we don’t act now…our future generations of children will be born into slavery!

    • Lenny Bruce
      22nd June 2012

      I can easily spot that you are someone who actually lives up to his/her avatar. Nice one!

    • ma c
      13th July 2012

      I agree absolutely!
      We need to realise that our governments, or rather those they really work for, are waging an undeclared war against we the people.
      Invasion of our privacy is but one expression of this.
      Removal of our hard won freedoms in the name of the bogus ‘War On Terror’ justified by ‘false flag’ state sponsored terror events is another.
      Others include:
      The use of debt to enslave our people & unborn children.
      The use of pharmaceutical drugs / vaccines to cause auto immune disease, cancer & neurological damage.
      The attempted use of GMO foods to cause cancer & infertility.
      Bisphenol A.
      At what point do we wake up & start to treat these bastards like the murdering liars they are?
      Know your enemy or you are defenceless.

  12. Consent of the Networked - setting the agenda - | setting the agenda
    17th June 2012

    […] Cameron’s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry), Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch stated: “This policy will track every email we send, every Facebook message and log every website […]

  13. Fire Mouse
    20th June 2012

    Trouble is We live in 1% = 99% bigger problem is 98% won’t get off its Ass and do anything apathy is ignorance couch potato society can’t use remote to vote

  14. Surveillance State « In Defence of Liberty
    21st June 2012

    […] to hold communications data for up to a year. In opposition, David Cameron MP portentously said that: “If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.” […]

  15. castrated castro
    29th June 2012

    we may have more freedoms than so called terrorist states and organisations but there is a price to pay,and abuses of spying will continue.there should be more transparency of security services and police use of surveillance ,also what were these same security services and police doing when phone hacking etc was going on?if they didnt know then they are either crap at there job or were in collusion with NOTW etc,lets have real freedom and its not just about famous stars or rich celebrities being spied on!WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US PLEBS?

  16. Big Brother’s Watching You « @abdelxyz
    2nd July 2012

    […] The Communications Data Bill – we are all suspects now ( Share:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tagged: Communications Data Bill, David Cameron, David Davis, George Orwell, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Theresa May Posted in: @abdelxyz ← Nobel Peace Drones Be the first to start a conversation […]

  17. jimmy dingle
    4th August 2012

    For a government that is ‘killing’ 32 disabled people every week this is a doddle

  18. mickeyporkpies
    23rd August 2012

    How you can have Mr Pickles (not the penguin) in your RIPA report beggars belief. To protect your power you must know what your people are up to. We all know this will happen regardless and those who value their privacy will use avoidance techniques. The Terrorist Drum is banged so much it hurts. This is not about security it is about power and control. Look at the rest of the world and how communications have helped topple governments more than any covert injection of resources (you know what I mean). It is this freedom to communicate and such an immediate level that scares government.

  19. Mike Newman
    23rd August 2012

    When I discovered that emergency fire exit doors were being padlocked at our 15-storey housing block “in the interests of security”, my protests were ignored. I appealed to our elected LibDem Councillor who investigated and reported: “I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it.” Some pimply ignorant jobsworth had refused to budge on grounds of security even though the buildings were safeguarded by 24-hour security teams on site with more CCTV than East Berlin. But what was more frightening was to discover who actually rules the roost – not elected representatives but anonymous unaccountable jobsworths.

  20. keep-out
    3rd October 2012

    I started using an encrypted VPN months ago because of this. I’ve absolutely nothing to hide but that’s not the point is it? Anyhow for about £6 a month I can at least have peace of mind.
    I’ve worked in IT for almost 20 years, I know how easy it is to change any type of electronic data. Imagine a scenario where someone needed a stooge for a criminal act, it’d be reasonably simple to plant “evidence” of what appears to be a crime by hacking into a users device. How would you get out of that I wonder? Of course all the real baddies out there will also use VPN’s, shows how little politicians know.

    Bye from Estonia, or possibly Belgium or is it Greece? I forget which country I’m in at the moment!

  21. Mr Nowhere
    3rd October 2012

    The don’t need to actually do anything, once such a system is in place it would be an automated process of scanning & trapping certain words or phrases, images or say all traffic from certain IP subnets, domains etc etc. Then just doing some data mining on the DB tables.

  22. Dr alastair mcgowan
    11th November 2012

    We have to be more clear about the reason why the CCDP is desired by authorities. Having watched the development of data ming techniques for the past couple of decades my opinion is that for the state it represents a killer app. Never before has there been so much potential power to be gained by the state over its own citizens. The ability to trawl through information space would solve the problem of manpower and intelligence in policing forever.

    However, this cannot be achieved if the judiciary are the gatekeepers because their reasonable and lawful approach to providing a warrant based on a prima facae case would block almost all of what the police would love to do – nd that iz to have access to private information space as if it were public space. They want to be able to gain access to broad datasets in order to search for correlational information, gaining access to a single individual’s data would not release the power of these techniques.

    For the state it is all about giving big brother his rel power. Once that genie is out of the bottle there will never be freedom of mind again. The police will have cause to arrest people simply because a correlation will be ‘reasonable suspicion’ and to avoid arrest we will no longer have to just avoid suspicious or challenging behaviour physically in public but also in our private relationships communication and information patterns. We will in effect have to avoid creating suspicions of Thought Crime. For a creative minded free thinking authority challenging person like me that would be impossible. I would find myself on police record immediately and permanently. None of us want that kind of society.

    On the other hand – if the uses were for serious (life threatening) organised crime and terrorism and the gatekeepers of the datasets were the judiciary i could be persuaded of its possible use.

  23. How to Search the Internet Anonymously : amSquared
    29th April 2013

    […] your health, sexual preferences, finances etc and in turn may pass on to the Government through The Communications Data Bill or […]

  24. - Guy Fawkes' blog
    1st December 2014

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