http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesw ... -spoo.htmlWill UK civil service scupper civil liberties reform?
12:15 14 May 2010
Paul Marks, senior technology correspondent
Google, Facebook and the pressure group Privacy International this week welcomed the raft of civil liberties measures announced by the UK's incoming Conservative-Liberal coalition government. But some of the plans could founder on the rocks of what Privacy International calls the "real opposition": not the Labour party, but an intransigent, security-obsessed civil service.
Facebook's Richard Allan, a former Liberal Democrat MP steeped in the traditions of Westminster, predicts the real challenge to the surveillance state rollback will be national security-related pressure from civil servants:
"In meetings with ministers, they will always say they need to keep a record of everything that anyone has ever said on the internet because they once caught somebody that no-one knew about that way."
"Labour is not the opposition," agrees Hosein. "The civil service is."
The security services are set on implementing what is known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme, which extends data retention to offshored (that is, not in UK jurisdiction) email servers like Hotmail and gmail. They also want to grab encrypted data in secure "https" data streams, which are now produced by default by systems such as gmail.
Turning the IMP project down will be the signal that the new government is serious about the surveillance rollback, says Allan.