UK All Set for Large Scale Surveillance of its Citizens

According to a report on Telegraph, British authorities are planning on setting up a large scale surveillance programme of its citizens. The report, which did not cite any sources, says that landline, mobile and broadband companies will be asked to store customer data so that they could provide it in real-time to the authorities if needed.


This stored database will not have actual content of the call, but the details of the sender and recipient. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will also be included in this monitoring program.

For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.

The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.

All this data will be stored by the respective companies rather than the government itself. This move can be highly controversial since this database can be of high significance to the companies themselves as well as some third parties.

Telecom companies can track a customer’s behavior from his/her communication in order to provide targeted advertisement. Also, this kind of database will be of extremely high value to the hackers around the world and what kind of security measures, the telecom companies will implement to protect this database is a very valid question.

The report states that legislative time for this programme (called Communications Capabilities Development Programme or CCDP) will be allocated in the Queen’s Speech in May.

Privacy advocates have already raised their concerns.

“This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want access to this. And if communications providers have a government mandate to start collecting this information they will be incredibly tempted to start monitoring this data themselves so they can compete with Google and Facebook. The internet companies will be told to store who you are friends with and interact with. While this may appear innocuous it requires the active interception of every single communication you make, and this has never been done in a democratic society”, Guy Hosein of Privacy International said in a statement.

UK is already in the line of fire, after the News of the World phone tapping scandal. Now, how its citizens are going to react to legislation that will legalize monitoring their communication activities is to be seen.

Big Brother App Removed from App Store for “Harvesting User Passwords”

Yesterday Keith had written an article on common passcodes used by iPhone users to lock their iPhone. These stats were released by an iOS developer Daniel Amitay, who developed the app Big Brother which anonymously collected passcode from users of its app.

With less than 24hours after sharing the stats, the Big Brother app was removed from the App Store. Amitay reached out to Apple to address the issue and later in the night, Apple called up Amitay and stated that the main reason why the app was removed because Apple believed that he was surreptitiously harvesting user passwords.

iPhone Passcode

Amitay states on his blog

I think I should clarify exactly what data I was referring to, and how I was obtaining it. First, these passcodes are those that are input into Big Brother, not the actual iPhone lockscreen passcodes. Second, when the app sends this data to my server, it is literally sending only that number (e.g. 1234) and nothing else. I have no way of identifying any user or device whatsoever.

Amitay also cites section B of the iTunes EULA which states:

b. Consent to Use of Data: You agree that Application Provider may collect and use technical data and related information, including but not limited to technical information about Your device, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to You (if any) related to the Licensed Application. Application Provider may use this information, as long as it is in a form that does not personally identify You, to improve its products or to provide services or technologies to you.

According to Amitay, the passcodes were collected from the Big Brother app and not from the actual iPhone lockscreen. The app does not reveal any specific password data, as its all anonymous.

Amitay noted that the caller from Apple knew nothing about his articles posted on his blog and believed that his articles was heard by word of mouth and Apple thought he was stealing passwords.

Here’s a tutorial on how you can create strong, secure and safe passcodes for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad