U.K. to monitor, store all social-network traffic?
by Tom Espiner, 18 March 2009, CNET
The U.K. government is considering the mass surveillance and retention of all user communications on social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo.
Vernon Coaker the U.K. Home Office security minister, on Monday said the EU Data Retention Directive, under which Internet service providers must store communications data for 12 months, does not go far enough. Communications such as those on social-networking sites and via instant-messaging services could also be monitored, he said.
“Social-networking sites such as MySpace or Bebo are not covered by the directive,” said Coaker, speaking at a meeting of the House of CommonsFourth Delegated Legislation Committee. “That is one reason why the government (is) looking at what we should do about the Intercept(ion) Modernisation Programme, because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive.”
Under the EU Data Retention Directive, from March 15, 2009, all U.K. ISPs are required to store customer traffic data for a year. The Interception Modernisation Programme, or IMP, is a government proposal, introduced last year, for legislation to use mass monitoring of traffic data as an antiterrorism tool.
The IMP has two objectives: that the government use deep-packet inspection to monitor the Web communications of all U.K. citizens; and that all of the traffic data relating to those communications are stored in a centralized government database.
The U.K. government has previously said communications interception is “vital” and has hinted that social-networking sites may be put under surveillance. And responding to a question from Liberal Democrat Parliament member Tom Brake, Coaker said all traffic data on social-networking sites and through instant-messaging services may be harvested and stored.