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Jacqui Smith's secret plan to carry on snooping: The home secretary has vowed to scrap a 'big brother' database, but a bid to spy on us all continues SPY chiefs are pressing ahead with secret plans to monitor all internet use and telephone calls in Britain despite an announcement by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, of a ministerial climbdown over public surveillance.
GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, is developing classified technology to intercept and monitor all e-mails, website visits and social networking sessions in Britain. The agency will also be able to track telephone calls made over the internet, as well as all phone calls to land lines and mobiles.
The £1 billion snooping project — called Mastering the Internet (MTI) — will rely on thousands of “black box” probes being covertly inserted across online infrastructure. (London Times)
UK chases Obama on cybersecurity: Officials aim to release strategy this summer Security and intelligence officials plan to publish a UK version of Barack Obama's cybersecurity and defence review before the summer Parliamentary recess, according to sources close to the work.
The US announced its new strategy on Friday following an intensive 60-day investigation of vulnerabilities in government and the private sector.
Obama said computer networks would now be treated as a "strategic national asset" and announced a new senior post in his administration to oversee their defence. It was also reported - but not detailed in the published strategy - that a new arm within the Pentagon will conduct both offensive and defensive network warfare. (The Register)
And now for a world government "I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible." (Financial Times)
Millions of families face compulsory water meters Water companies are to be given new powers to force meters on millions of families amid claims it is necessary to cope with future droughts.
The controversial plan, which will add more than £1 billion to water bills over the next decade, was given the green light by the government on Thursday.
Ministers claim that despite the floods of this summer, the country is likely to see more droughts in future years, which will create a need to conserve water.
They argue that imposing meters generally leads to a reduction in household use of some 10 per cent.
New powers to adopt compulsory water metering are to be given to those companies who can show they are in so-called "water stress" areas.
However, the government plans to direct every water company in the country to consider imposing meters on customers to solve water shortage problems. (UK Daily Mail)
keywords: Climate Change, Consumer Council For Water, Essex & Suffolk, Folkestone & Dover, Mid Kent Water, Phil Woolas, South East Water, Southern Water, Sutton & East Surrey, Thames Water, UK National Consumer Council, United Kingdom, Water
Coming soon: the fridge that power chiefs can switch off to save energy A domestic refrigerator that can be turned on and off by the electricity supplier without the homeowner being aware is to go on trial.
Npower will distribute 300 ‘smart fridges’ free to homeowners throughout Britain within the next five weeks as part of the energy companies’ efforts to tackle climate change.
At times of high demand, the National Grid will activate the switches in the fridges to achieve a balance in the power supply.
The development means that, for the first time, consumers will lose control over the use of electricity in their own homes.
Electricity companies have regularly raised the reliability of their supply as justification for their high prices. (UK Daily Mail)
Lawmakers Praise Obama’s Moves to Beef Up Cybersecurity Calling the vulnerability of U.S. computer infrastructure “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation,” President Obama announced plans Friday to expand the White House’s role in cybersecurity, saying that a cyber czar will lead the way.
“Because of the critical importance of this work, I will personally select this official,” Obama said. “I’ll depend on this official in all matters relating to cybersecurity, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges.” (CQ Politics)
Cybersecurity Chief Resigns The government's coordinator for cybersecurity programs has quit, criticizing what he described as the National Security Agency's grip on cybersecurity.
Rod Beckstrom, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said in his resignation letter that the NSA's central role in cybersecurity is "a bad strategy" because it is important to have a civilian agency taking a key role in the issue. The NSA is part of the Department of Defense. (Wall Street Journal)
NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.
The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks. (Wall Street Journal)
The new technology at the root of the NSA wiretap scandal When the NSA wiretapping story first hit the pages of the NYT a few days ago, there were clearly a huge number of unanswered questions. Is the wiretapping that the President has authorized illegal under the FISA act? Is it unconstitutional? If it's illegal, does the President have the authority to violate the law if he's acting in the best interests of the republic? And then there's the question of why the NYT sat on this story for over a year before going public with it.
I'm not really going to make any attempt to answer questions of legality and constitutionality, because the Internet is full of armchair constitutional scholars right now who're fighting tooth and nail over these questions, generating much heat but very little light. Instead, I'd like to point your attention to some later developments in this case that clearly indicate that there's much more going on here than we initially assumed. When the truth comes out (if it ever does), this NSA wiretapping story will almost certainly be a story not just about the Constitutional concept of the separation of powers, but about high technology. (Ars Technica)
Report: NSA’s Warrantless Spying Resurrects Banned ‘Total Information Awareness’ Project Total Information Awareness — the all-seeing terrorist spotting algorithm-meets-the-mother-of-all-databases that was ostensibly de-funded by Congress in 2003, never actually died, and was largely rebuilt in secret by the NSA, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman.
In a fantastic story Monday, Gorman pulls together threads and lays out what many have suspected and alleged in lawsuits — the NSA is collecting and sifting through immense amounts of data about who Americans talk to, what they are interested in, how they spend their money and where they travel in order to find secret terrorism cells inside America.
The NSA is engaged in a widespread mining of so-called transactional data — domestic telephone records, credit card purchases, travel data, international financial data, internet searches, subject lines and headers of emails — pulling in immense data about Americans and foreigners, which it then uses to find particular targets — or even, according to Gorman — to decide what cities to target for blanket surveillance. (Wired)
You Are a Suspect If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ''a virtual, centralized grand database.''
To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a ''Total Information Awareness'' about every U.S. citizen. (New York Times)
Whistleblower outs NSA's secret spy room at AT&T Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, said the company shunted all Internet traffic--including traffic from peering links connecting to other Internet backbone providers-- to semantic traffic analyzers, installed in a secret room inside the AT&T central office on Folsom Street in San Francisco. Similar rooms were built in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
"Based on my understanding of the connections and equipment at issue, it appears the NSA (National Security Agency) is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet," Klein said. "This potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens." (Spam Daily News)
Obama creates top job for guarding online security President Obama announced Friday he is creating the post of cyber security coordinator to oversee "a new comprehensive approach to securing America's digital infrastructure."
The president said he will personally select the person who takes on that post.
"I'll depend on this official in all matters relating to cyber security, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges," he said.
The economic crisis cannot be tackled without ensuring the safety of the nation's online activities, Obama said. "America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security," he said. (CNN)
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