Communications Capabilities Development Programme

(Redirected from Intercept Modernisation Programme)

The Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP) (2008-2010) and Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) (2011-2018) were Home Office programmes for increasing the communications data available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

CCDP was replaced by the Communications Data and Lawful Intercept (CDLI) Service Partnership.[1]

Executive Summary

The precursor to the Communications Capabilities Development Programme was the 'Intercept Modernisation Programme' was first proposed in the third term of the Labour government (2006). This idea was never introduced formally by Labour and the programme was on hold in 2010 when the government changed. The Coalition, in power from May 2010, fairly quickly revived the Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP) policy under a different name: Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP). This policy has some differences with the orignal version but continues with much the same principle, and affords the same powers to government.

The IMP was expected to form part of a Communications Data Bill announced in May 2008 and it was ditched by Labour in December 2009 leading up to the general election because of concerns about cost, controversy and feasibility.

The proposals were initially expected to include a centralised database containing information gathered by CSP (Communications Service Provider/s) on internet communications data and telephone communications data.

This would be used for the purpose of 'maintaining capabilities' of police, public safety and national security authorities in order to keep up with terrorism and organised crime. Data collected would also include information that is not usually gathered by CSPs, such as email recipients or details from instant messages, and other third-party data - data which could only be gathered through interception and "deep packet inspection".

The first sign of the proposal being revived appears to have been in October 2010 in the Strategic Defence and Security Review:

"We will... introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework... We will put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that our response to this technology challenge is compatible with the government's approach to information storage and civil liberties."[2]

It appears that the plans for a centralised database have been scrapped in favour of assisting CSPs (perhaps using public funds) in maintaining their own databases of collated data from which authorities could, with the proper authorisation, take information and use it to improve their services. Although this is certainly a better option than a centralised database, there are still serious issues about the technical feasibility, the cost, and of course privacy. Worryingly, the Home Office now says that the use of IMP will not be limited to terrorism or organised crime:

"Communications data is vital to all law enforcement"

There was speculation that the CCDP measures would be incorporated in the Crime Bill, however the measures were announced separately in the Queen's speech to parliament on 9th May 2012, and will likely form the Communications Data Bill.

Intercept Modernisation FAQs

IMP under the Coalition 2010-11: Communications Capabilities Development Programme

In the original Coalition Agreement(12th May 2010), this statement appears on page 11:

"We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason."

And Nick Clegg reiterated this in a speech a week later(19th May 2010) when he said:

"We won't hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so."

However, on 19th October 2010, hidden in the depths of the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review was this statement:

"We will introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework … We will put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that our response to this technology challenge is compatible with the government's approach to information storage and civil liberties."

The revival of the IMP is being spearheaded by the Home Office, which in fact as early as July 2010, planned to revive IMP, as revealed in a largely unnoticed document.

One can only read this as a revival of the Intercept Modernisation Programme. This is despite staunch opposition to the programme by both the Lib Dems and the Tories while they weren't in government, and their original Coalition Agreement(mentioned above).

GCHQ were revealed to be installing a system for collecting the data required by the IMP in 2009, and are continuing to install this programme despite the suspected opposition of the new coalition. Tories at the time opposed doing this on the sly. Baroness Neville-Jones wanted it to be done only if it was passed as law by Parliament. Baroness Neville-Jones is now the coalition's security minister and she will have to stick to her guns if the public is to ever see such an important development debated by their elected representatives.

On the 27th October 2010, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge Dr Julian Huppert asked the Prime Minister in Prime Minister's Question Time:

Can the Prime Minister reassure the House that the Government have no plans to revive Labour's intercept modernisation programme, whether in name or in function, and that he remains fully committed to the pledge in the coalition agreement to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and to roll back state intrusion?

The Prime Minister had this to say:

The Prime Minister: I would argue that we have made good progress on rolling back state intrusion in terms of getting rid of ID cards and in terms of the right to enter a person's home. We are not considering a central Government database to store all communications information, and we shall be working with the Information Commissioner's Office on anything we do in that area.

Notice how he doesn't say they won't be extending the requirements for CSPs to retain communications data. Is this another hint that IMP will be adopted by the Coalition, just without the centralised database?

The Communications Capabilities Development Programme

The programme is now renamed the CCDP [1].

Home Affairs Select Committee December 2010

At the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday 21 December 2010 Counter Terrorism Minister Pauline Neville-Jones was asked by Lib Dem Cambridge MP Julian Huppert about the new version of the Intercept Modernisation Programme. The minister confirmed this work took place within the Home Office; Mr Huppert asked: "What is actually proposed there?". The minister responded:

"I don't think we've reached a stage where I can sensibly talk about the approach to intercept modernisation. It is clear some kind of data collection and retention is required for security purposes. I wouldn't want to go further than that at the moment because we're still thinking about exactly what that means and there's further work to be done".

Mr Huppert also asked about the fact using intercept as evidence in court was being reviewed separately from the Government's general review of counter-terrorism.

The exchange took place from 11:07:40 see : Video of the Meeting

Home Office Counter Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST)

On July 12th 2011 the Home Office released it's revised Counter Terrorism Strategy known as(CONTEST). It lists its four key objectives as:

Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks
Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism
Protect: to strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack
Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

CCDP is incorporated into this 125 page document. The CONTEST document states that a change in privacy laws will need to take place in order for CCPD to be legal.

“Legislation will be brought forward to put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that the response to this technology challenge is compatible with the Government’s approach to information storage and civil liberties.”

Queen's Speech, May 2012

Anonymous briefings were made at some point in March 2012 indicating plans for internet monitoring, believed to be the CCDP or similar, would be announced in the forthcoming Queen's Speech. An unfavourable reaction from public and media may have affected the timetable of implementation, with the bill being subsequently referred to as a "draft". The speech on the 9th of May included the following

My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.

IMP under Labour 2006-2010

Starting with The Times, who broke the story in May 2008, several media reports have claimed that as part of this programme a new national database would be created to centralise the electronic communications data (some of it collected and retained by ISPs and other communications service providers under Data Retention legislation passed down from Europe, others of it not collected or retained under any existing statute) of the entire population[2].

The BBC added some substance to the speculation in May 2008 when it ran an interview with Stuart Ward, a telecoms security engineer, who says the government has been in conversation with mobile phone operators about the best way to implement a centralised database[3]. Since the stories started appearing the proposals have been criticised by a number of sources, including the former Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas[4].

A written answer[5][6] to the Earl of Northesk on 8th July 2008 by the Lord West of Spithead, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, reads:

"The objective of the interception modernisation programme (IMP) is to maintain the UK's lawful intercept and communications data capabilities in the changing communications environment. It is a cross-government programme, led by the Home Office, to ensure that our capability to lawfully intercept and exploit data when fighting crime and terrorism is not lost. It was established in response to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's national security remit in 2006."

The Queen's speech in 2008 did not include the Communications Data Bill in response to public controversy, and Jacqui Smith spoke about the plans on 15 October 2008 at an ippr event. She said that although the original plans had been due to go before the House of Commons in the Communications Data Bill in November, she was now holding back this Bill "in order to expand the extent of surveillance powers open to the security services, while consulting further on the best way to win public support for the plan" (Daily Telegraph report). She did not reveal the substance of the original plans.

Over the Summer of 2009, the Home Office responded to speculation with statements that the details of the Communications Data Bill are yet to be released.

In November 2009 the Home Office published a summary of the public consultation, admitting within that the majority of respondents were against the plans to extend the current data retention requirements. Half of the respondents thought the safeguards weren't good enough. This was the point where commentators started to think that the proposal had been abandoned.

Labour appeared to drop the programme in December 2009, after the public consultation where concerns about the cost, feasibility and morality were expressed by service providers and members of the public. They were saying that firstly, many of the service providers did not have the capability to store the data required, or even collect it in some cases, and so the cost would be considerably higher than the government suggested. And secondly, they said that the technology to collect the specific information, in some cases (especially mobile ISPs) didn't even exist. And of course the morality and legality of the programme were in question.

The Issues with IMP and CCDP

Mass surveillance and "fishing expeditions"

The EU Data Retention Directive, which is currently being transposed into UK law, requires that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) store communications traffic data for between 6 months and 2 years (depending on how the Member State wishes to implement the Directive - it is likely that the UK will go for 12 months).

If the government wish to view stored communications traffic data, they need to approach individual CSPs directly with a Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) warrant for access to that data. A centralised database would lower the cost of viewing communications traffic data, as all CSPs would deposit the data with a central Government agency.

Lowering the cost of surveillance is likely to lead to more so-called "fishing expeditions", where officials use the communications patterns of known targets to identify unknown targets. As a Home Office spokesman is quoted as saying in this Guardian piece:

"It... gives investigators the potential to identify other forensic opportunities, identify witnesses and premises of evidential interest."

Many activists - including ORG - spoke out against the EU Data Retention Directive when it was being drafted in 2005. Centralising the data retained under the Directive would be even worse - it takes us from a situation where the Government can watch anybody, to where the Government can watch everybody. Mass surveillance undermines human dignity, which is the value that underpins every other human right. It is also historically a keystone of mass oppression - without which they cannot develop and function. Why give a government that power?

Meaningful oversight

Any scheme which gives Government agencies power to access communications traffic data needs meaningful oversight of the data collection and processing. Whether data is collected centrally or not, it will be difficult for an external body properly to audit the way that data is gathered, and to see that those operating it are strict about complying to RIPA and Data Protection Act requirements.

It is unclear as of yet how a non-centralised database is to be achieved, given the cost and technical difficulties. Of course there are still issues about oversight of the operation, in particular concerning HP's branch formerly known as EDS who were contracted to run the GCHQ's MTI program[7], even after repeated foul-ups by the group. Are they the right people to be managing all that private information?

Even more importantly, we still don't know how access to the data will be regulated. Some worry that it could be done without a judge-given warrant, and that mere authorisation by a senior officer would be enough, as it is currently with basic session data. Even with proper authorisation schemes in place, there's no guarantee they won't be abused. In France this summer, Nicolas Sarkozy was able to bypass proper mechanisms to check the phone logs of a journalist working for Le Monde to identify the source of an important leak from the investigation into how the richest person in France may have illegally provided money to Sarkozy's political Party. It was claimed that this was a mere 'technical verification'; David Sénat, the whistleblower, was fired from his job at the French Ministry of Justice, and is now under arrest.


RIPA powers are already being abused by government agencies. As Sir Christopher Rose, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, noted in his most recent report to the Prime Minister [8]:

The evidence is that [Local Authorities] tend to resort to covert activity as a last resort but, when they do, have a tendency to expose lack of understanding of the legislation by completing documentation poorly. In particular there is a serious misunderstanding of the concept of proportionality. It is not acceptable, for example, to judge, that because directed surveillance is being conducted from a public place, this automatically renders the activity overt or to assert that an activity is proportionate because it is the only way to further an investigation. At the end of the reporting period, media reports highlighted the need for a public debate on the use of these powers and specifically the issue of proportionality.

Local authorities have used RIPA powers to spy on a family for three weeks to find out if they were really living in a school catchment area (Poole), or to investigate dog fouling (Derby City Council, Bolton, Gateshead and Hartlepool) [9].


LSE estimated the total cost of the programme to be in excess of £2bn, and after the public consultancy in 2009 it emerged that many CSPs, in particular mobile ISPs, had expressed serious concerns over the cost of the programme. They suggested that government grossly overestimated their capabilities to collect the data required, and store it. To install systems that would allow them to store such a massive database of information and then to organise it into a useful format, as would also be required under IMP, would take years and vast sums of money. The Information Commissioner has reiterated in October 2010 the concerns about the feasibility and cost that he made clear in 2009 in response to the quiet revival of the programme. Later that month, the Home Office abandoned the £2bn estimate but refused to provide a different estimate. For PR reasons, it seems unlikely that the true cost estimate will be made clear at all, given the current spending cuts climate.


Alongside concerns about cost in the 2009 public consultancy, CSPs and the Home Office admitted that the technology needed to gather the data required under the IMP did not yet exist. The Information Commissioner has reiterated in October 2010 the concerns about the feasibility and cost that he made clear in 2009 in response to the quiet revival of the programme. Most likely it would require the placing of thousands of Deep packet inspection (DPI) probes into the UK network, with constant updating or reconfiguring at great cost to the taxpayer and/or ISP bill-payer. Alternatively, if they got fed-up with the cost and hassle of keeping pace with new technology, they could be tempted to create new laws outlawing communication through new and un-monitored means.

Personal data security

The government has a poor record on keeping your personal data secure (See UK Privacy Debacles). Large databases which grant access to hundreds of different users will always be subject to "insider threats" - public servants who are either corrupt[3] or incompetent[4]. This puts the security of vulnerable people, such as those fleeing abusive relationships, at greater risk of harm.

It was leaked in October 2009 that GCHQ was outsourcing the handling of the government's snooping technology to none other than the IT giant formerly known as EDS. This particular group is famous for resounding successes including but not limited to the National Offender Management Information Service, the tax credits system, the Defence Information Infrastructure and the Child Support Agency. So we can all rest easy in the knowledge that our highly confidential details will be safe. (If you hadn't guessed, that's sarcasm!)

The installation of lawful interception (LI) equipment in the Greek network of telecommunications company Vodafone lead to the installation and execution of rogue code that was found to tap the calls of a large number of high profile German figures.[5] There are substantial concerns that, should any kind of LI equipment be installed in UK communications networks, a similar attack could take place here.[6]

EU Law

There are also issues as to whether the programme is compatible with EU law, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the Data Retention Directive. The DRD doesn't include much of the data that IMP would propose collecting, in particular data like that generated through the use of VoIP or instant messaging and social networking websites, and Article 8 of the ECHR reads:

"1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

The Home Office has on several occasions given assurances that IMP and the Communications Data Bill will be compatible with EU law.

The Article 29 Working Party issued a report on 13th July 2010 concerning EU Law on the subject. Among other priorities, it was recommended that the EU stop member states from issuing further legislation that went above and beyond the current EU data retention laws, and that the data retention period should be shorter than the suggested 24 months.

Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary questions have a significant role in the House of Commons today. They are a way for Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account, either in the form of oral questions to Ministers in the Chamber of the House of Commons or in the form of written questions.


1) To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Internet Service Providers' Association has been included in consultation on the Communications Capabilities Development programme; and what steps have been taken to include all internet service providers in such discussions. 6 March 2006 [10]

David Davis Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden

2) To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any legislative proposals in respect of the communications capabilities development programme will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. 29 February 2012 [11]

Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton

3) To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she consulted the Information Commissioner on the communications capabilities development programme. 29 February 2012 [12]

Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton


1) Home Office officials have met with the main industry associations representing internet service providers and communications service providers to discuss the cross-Government Communication Capabilities Development programme. These meetings have included the Internet Service Providers' Association whose advice has been sought on how and when to engage with all interested internet service providers, as part of the Department's ongoing engagement strategy with industry. 6 March 2012

James Brokenshire, Conservative Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office; Old Bexley and Sidcup

2) As set out in the Home Office's structural reform plan, details of the Government's legislative proposals to preserve the ability of the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies to obtain communications data within an appropriate legal framework will be announced in Parliament in due course. 29 February 2012 [13]

James Brokenshire, Conservative Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office; Old Bexley and Sidcup

3) Home Office officials have consulted the Information Commissioner on the Communications Capabilities Development programme and continue to work with his team. 29 February 2012 [14]

James Brokenshire, Conservative Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office; Old Bexley and Sidcup


Online resources

Data Retention Laws

Freedom of Information Request

The Open Rights Group made the following FOI request to the Home Office on regarding the Intercept Modernisation Programme:

This response was returned:

Communication with the former Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith

Government Resources



For media after 2012-05-09 see Communications Data Bill/Media


2012-05-09 - Guardian Home Office highlights gaps in online surveillance of criminals
Author Alan Travis
Summary Officials make a case for increased data retention (prior to Queen's speech)
2012-04-30 - Telegraph - Lib Dems fear Government will stifle debate over online 'snooping' laws
Author Christopher Williams
2012-04-15 - New York Times From the Birthplace of Big Brother
Author Editorial
2012-04-13 - Al Jazeera The UK government's war on internet freedom
Author Trevor Timm, EFF
2012-04-12 - The Times Paddy Ashdown: Snoopers’ charter breaches the coalition deal
Author Paddy Ashdown
Summary Paddy Ashdown opinion piece. quotes
2012-04-10 - The Guardian Cameron and Clegg clash over secret courts and email monitoring
Author Nicholas Watt
Summary David Cameron and Nick Clegg disagree fervently over the controversial government plans to monitor emails and allow judges to sit in secret in some trials
2012-04-08 - The Guardian Senior Lib Dem threatens to block surveillance plans
Author Nicholas Watt
Summary Outlines Tim Farron's position that Lib Dems would resist any threat to a free and liberal society
2012-04-05 - The Guardian Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke urge Tories to back security plan
Author Rajeev Syal and Richard Norton-Taylor
Summary The article discusses the Home Secretary and Justice Minister's letter, sent to all Conservative MPs, urging them to support the government's attempts to widen surveillance of communications
2012-04-03 - The Times Don’t let the State spy on us by the back door
Author Heather Brooke
Summary alt
2012-04-02 - Washington Post Britain weighs proposal to allow greatly increased Internet ‘snooping’
Author Anthony Faiola and Ellen Nakashima
2012-04-02 - The Register Home Sec: Web snoop law will snare PAEDOS, TERRORISTS May asks Blighty to 'think of the children'
Author Kelly Fiveash
Summary Amusing article highlighting the absurdity of the Home Secretary's argument that CCDP with protect us from terrorism and our children from peadophiles
2012-04-02 - Spy Blog Anonymous media briefings to soften us up for even more Internet Snooping in the Queens Speech next month
Summary Commentary on the inclusion of GCHQ access into the proposed programme.
2012-04-01 - BBC News Email and web use 'to be monitored' under new laws
Summary Reporting the trail of proposed legislation (believed to be CCDP) expected in the Queen's Speech.
2012-01-01 - Guardian - Government plans increased email and social network surveillance
Author: Robert Booth
2012-04-01 - Sunday Times Government to snoop on all emails
Author David Leppard
Summary Reporting the trail of proposed legislation (believed to be CCDP) expected in the Queen's Speech.
2012-02-21 - The New American Big Brother Returns to Orwell's England
Author Raven Clabough
Summary From an American point of view. The article compares CCDP in the UK to the Patriot Act in the US. Opinions and quotes from organisations opposing CCDP
2012-02-20 - Daily Mail Government spy programme will monitor every phone call, text and email... and details will be kept for up to a year
Author Pamela Owen
Summary Concise article about the dangers of CCDP because of the lack of security
2012-02-20 - PC Pro Anger over mass web surveillance plans
Author Stewart Mitchell
Summary Article based on previous artcle by the telegraph. Highlights the fact that the idea of a central database was originally objected by the coalition government who are now proposing it
2012-02-19 - The Morning Star Tories to rehash terror database
Author Paddy McGuffin
Summary Looks at the difference between IMP proposed by Labour and CCDP
2012-02-18 - The Sunday Telegraph Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan
Author David Barrett
Summary In depth article that focuses on the dangers of CCDP


2011-11-25 - The Guardian - The £650m cyber security blanket
Author Peter Sommer
Summary What does internet security Government spending actually go on?
2011-08-09 - Privacy International Privacy Consequences of the UK Riots
Author Simon
Summary The legacy left by social networking sites like Twitter used in the London riots
2011-07-21 - Entanet - Big brother returns with a new name
Author Neil Watson
Summary Questions how feasible this government proposition is and examines the cost to the tax payer
2011-07-21 - ISP Review - UK ISP Entanet Slams Revived Plans to Monitor and Intercept your Online Comms
Author Mark Johnson
Summary Communications and networking provider Entranet questions feasibility of Communications Capabilities Development Programme
2011-07-13 - The Register - Coalition renames GCHQ internet spook-tech plans
Author John Oates
Summary Coalition government revives Labour's Intercept Modernisation Programme under new name of Communications Capabilities Development Programme
2011-07-12 - The Guardian - Home Office plans to sharpen biometric checks
Author: Mark Say
Summary: Home Office invests in new technology to counter potential terrorists threats. Home secretary Teresa May discusses the strategies to be used
2011-07-12 - IT Pro - Home Office: Cloud computing aiding terrorism
Author Tom Brewster
Summary Theresa May asserts that 'Cloud Computing' is already used by terrorists and the Government must implement CCDP in order to keep up
2011-07-12 - Public Service - May-UK must tackle terrorists online
Summary Home Secretary Theresa May discusses recent terrorist attacks an what the Government is proposing to counter this


2010-10-26 - The Register - Coalition tears up net snoop plan's £2bn price tag
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Fears about the possible cost of the IMP grow; a Home Office spokesman further confirms that it could be used for all law enforcement, not limited to terrorism.
2010-10-25 - Kable - ICO expresses interception modernisation programme concerns
Summary: The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, outlines some concerns over the IMP, which have not changed since his response to the consultation in 2009.
2010-10-21 - The Guardian - 'Surveillance state' fear as government revives tracking plan
Author: Alan Travis
Summary: An addition to yesterday's report.
2010-10-20 - The Daily Telegraph - Every email and website to be stored
Author: Tom Whitehead
Summary: Another angle on the Guardian report. (Actually this report came first, but they both have the same information)
2010-10-20 - The Guardian - Plan to store Britons' phone and internet data revived
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: The coalition government quietly revives the IMP after months of non-committal, and revives with it fears of the strengthening of the surveillance state which, amusingly, both parties now in the coalition, strongly opposed before the election.
2010-10-20 - The Register - Green light for spooks' net snoop plan
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The coalition government appears to have approved IMP in a form basically identical to that which was abandoned by Labour leading up to the election campaign. And we thought at least the Lib Dems were against it... weren't they?
2010-06-15 - The Register - GCHQ: The uncensored story of Britain's most secret intelligence agency
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: A quick review of a book about the GCHQ, one of the big players in IMP legislation, with the MTI program controlled by GCHQ, and much of the support from defence officials originating from GCHQ.
2010-05-14 - The Register - ConLibs leave open question over net surveillance
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition pledged the "ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason". Of course, then we have to define what's a good reason and what isn't, so basically, nothing's been said. Clegg repeats the sentiment in his speech 7 days later.
2010-01-28 - The Register - Home Office spawns new unit to expand internet surveillance
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The new Communications Capabilities Directorate has been formed, despite suggestions that IMP was not going to be pursued until after the election. This article provides a solid overview of the situation at this point.


2009-12-22 - The Register - Mobile networks line up to bash net snooping plan
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Submissions to IMP consultation revealed to show massive scepticism from mobile service providers, who call it impractical and disproportionate.
2009-11-18 - The Register - Massive net surveillance programme on schedule
Author: Kable
Summary: IMP planned for completion in 2016, 10 years after it was proposed in April 2006 That is, if it's ever accepted by government.
2009-11-11 - The Register - Election makes net snooping a pariah policy
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Home Secretary Alan Johnson appears to be abandoning the proposal due to its overwhelming unpopularity in light of the upcoming election, despite continued installation at GCHQ, who don't anticipate IMP being dropped entirely. There's a link there to a report on the Tory standpoint, but it seems only the Lib Dems are actively opposed to IMP.
2009-10-21 - The Register - GCHQ outsources net snooping... to EDS
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: HP branch formerly known as EDS is confirmed to be working for the GCHQ on the MTI project. EDS is well-known for management foul-ups in recent history, so the decision to outsource such a delicate operation to them is... puzzling at best.
2009-08-11 - The Guardian - Fighting the surveillance state
Author: Chris Huhne
Summary: Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne outlines his fears and opinions on the current situation with surveillance and snooping. He compares the proposals for mass surveillance and data retention to the KGB of the Soviet Union. "Leaving the power of issuing warrants for intercept communications with the home secretary, who is also in charge of the police, is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse."
2009-07-29 - The Register Privacy watchdog bashes net snoop plan
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: New Information Commissioner Christopher Graham criticises IMP for being 'excessive'. His submission to the Home Office Consultation said: "The Information Commissioner believes that the case has yet to be made for the collection and processing of additional communications data for the population as a whole being relevant and not excessive." He also asked if the Home Office had suggested targeted snooping, rather than mass surveillance.
2009-07-08 - The Register Cops to step up use of phone and net records
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: New plans to increase police detective usage of communications data are being put in place in anticipation of IMP.
2009-07-01 - The Register - Mobile operators question net snoop plan
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Mobile ISPs such as T-mobile are expressing similar concerns as many fixed-line ISPs that the technology to record the data the IMP is asking for does not yet exist.
2009-06-19 - The Register - IMP bets £2bn on non-existent horse
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: In a leaked report of a private meeting between CSPs and the Home Office, it has been revealed that Home Office officials admitted to doubts about whether the technology required to perform the mass surveillance proposed in IMP even existed. ISPA has planned a meeting to discuss the legal implications of IMP on 1st July.
2009-06-17 - The Register - MPs launch probe of massive net snooping project
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: In response to the LSE report, MPs have launched a public consultation on IMP. The main focus was to be on costs, and individual's privacy which is at great risk of being compromised under the proposal. The inquiry is to begin on 1st July.
2009-06-02 - The Register - ISPs frosty on Jacqui's comms surveillance plan
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: ISPs have voiced concerns about the IMP plans, in particular about costs and guarantees for the maintained privacy and security of their user's private details. Many said they were not capable of storing the amount of data the government wants, but some of the larger ISPs have not yet made comment.
2009-05-03 - The Register - 'Climb down' on central database was 'a sideshow'
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Claims by Jacqui Smith earlier in the week that plans for a central database had been dumped have been revealed to be equivocal. Instead, GCHQ are installing a system called 'Mastering the Internet', which appears to be a system for mass surveillance. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "We opposed the big brother database because it gave the state direct access to everybody’s communications. But this network of black boxes achieves the same thing via the back door." GCHQ's spokeswoman said: "GCHQ does not discuss 'how' we use data, as this may lead to revelations about our capability which damage national security. GCHQ is constantly updating its systems in order to maintain and renew its capability."
2009-04-28 - The Register - Officials 'not interested in managing contracts'
Author: Kablenet
Summary: The Public Accounts Committee says government departments are not scrutinising external suppliers, and are letting them get away with poor management where the powers exist to punish them by docking their pay. This does not bode well for the handling by ISPs, who would be funded by the government.
2009-04-27 - - Home Office rules out telephone surveillance database
Author: Ian Dunt
Summary: The Home Office says that no centralised database will be set up, but rather, individual service providers would be expected to take records of individuals' calls, internet usage, and emails. The content would not be recorded, but the time, date, location, and recipient would all be logged.
2009-04-27 - The Register - Uberdatabase ditched, but IMP is go
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The government plans to spend £2bn for service to intercept details of their customers' emails, VoIP calls, instant messaging and social networking. The service providers would also be required to organise the data so that it can be used more efficiently by the government. The move to give the responsibility of data collection to the service providers is criticised to be a dodging manoeuvre, as opposition such as Facebook would have no choice - since the transmissions are intercepted before they reach the website. The consultation is said to run for 12 weeks.
2009-04-07 - ZDNet - Home Office denies prototype intercept database
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: According to the Home Office, no prototype database has been built by either the Home Office or the intelligence services, to test whether all UK citizens' communications information can be stored. ... Phil Booth, national co-ordinator for No2ID, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that he doubted the accuracy of the Home Office statement, due to the age of the IMP. "It's very unlikely (the intelligence services) haven't done at least some limited line testing," said Booth. "It's unlikely they would work for five years on a project and not test it."
2009-03-25 - BBC - Social network sites 'monitored'
Summary: Social networking sites like Facebook could be monitored by the UK government under proposals to make them keep details of users' contacts. The Home Office said it was needed to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites, but said it would not keep the content of conversations. Tens of millions of people use sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to chat with friends, but ministers say they have no interest in the content of discussions - just who people have been talking to.
2009-03-25 - The Independent - Now 'Big Brother' targets Facebook
Author: Nigel Morris
Summary: Millions of Britons who use social networking sites such as Facebook could soon have their every move monitored by the Government and saved on a "Big Brother" database. The idea to police MySpace, Bebo and Facebook comes on top of plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit made by everyone in the United Kingdom. ... the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake, he insisted: "I accept this is an extremely difficult area. The interface between retaining data, private security and all such issues of privacy is extremely important. It is absolutely right to point out the difficulty of ensuring we maintain a capability and a capacity to deal with crime and issues of national security – and where that butts up against issues of privacy."
2009-01-12 - The Register - CPS denies support for uberdatabase
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has clarified comments by the UK's top prosecutor, denying that he supports proposals for a centralised warehouse of private communications data. ... Today the CPS said Starmer's comments should not have been interpreted as "tacit support" for a multibillion pound data harvesting operation. "The Guardian suggests he would support the database. That isn't correct," a spokeswoman said.
2009-01-09 - The Register - Confusion reigns ahead of comms uberdatabase debate
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Disentangling IMP from the EU Data Retention Directive. Jacqui Smith will soon begin one of the Home Office's famed consultation exercises on new systems demanded by spy chiefs to snoop on internet communications in the UK. But already, the mangle of powers and regulations around data retention threatens public understanding of what is being suggested.A somewhat confused report from the BBC today attempts to trace the links between the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) and the imminently-in-force EU Data Retention Directive (EUDRD) ...
2009-01-09 - BBC - UK e-mail law 'attack on rights'
Summary: Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said "The thing we have to worry about is what happens next because the government is already mooting plans not just to leave this stuff with the providers but to create a central government database where they hold all the information." "I'm afraid, we just don't trust any government or any organisation to keep that much very sensitive information about us all and to keep it safe."
2009-01-07 - The Telegraph - MI5 chief warns of threat from global recession
Author: Duncan Gardham
Summary: The head of MI5 is also concerned that the development of new ways of telephoning over the internet could represent a "significant detriment to national security" and that new powers are needed to tackle the threat. While calls can be monitored, phone bills - which can constitute vital evidence in prosecutions - are not available from internet phone services. "If we are to maintain our capability we are going to have to make decisions in the next few years" he said, "Because traditional ways are unlikely to work."
2009-01-07 - The Guardian - MI5 chief: al-Qaida threat diminished, but not yet over
Author: Richard Norton-Taylor
Summary: The head of MI5 ... warns that ... Not getting access to emails and data on internet sites would be detrimental to national security.
2009-01-01 - The Telegraph - It's the database, not who runs it, that matters
Summary: Anger should be directed at the project itself. If there is one thing that must stop in the year ahead it is this Government obsession with hoovering up all the personal information it can get its hands on. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, says this is "vital" to maintain Britain's capacity to combat terrorism, the argument governments always use in order to justify restrictions on liberties. This must not be allowed to turn into an argument over who should collect the information. The debate should be about the need for such a database in the first place. Otherwise, when it is linked up with the proposed ID database, the last vestiges of personal privacy will be stripped away.
2009-01-01 - ars technica - Private firm to guard database of every phone call, e-mail
Summary: A contentious proposal to create a massive database of communications metadata in the United Kingdom has just become even more controversial. According to reports in the British press, a "consultation paper" laying out the plan, slated for release in January, contemplates outsourcing the maintenance of the database to private-sector firms. The proposal has already come under fire from civil liberties groups, the European human rights commissioner, and former public officials. Initially included in Britain's Communications Data Bill as part of a sweeping Interception Modernisation Programme, the surveillance proposal was dropped from the legislation in September, but it was not abandoned.


2008-12-31 - The Independent - UK's database plan condemned by Europe
Author: Robert Verkaik
Summary: Britain must rethink plans for a database holding details of every email, mobile phone and internet visit, Europe's human rights commissioner has said in an outspoken attack on the growth of surveillance societies. Thomas Hammarberg said that UK proposals for sweeping powers to collect and store data will increase the risk of the "violation of an individual's privacy".
2008-12-31 - The Guardian - Private firm may track all email and calls
Author: Alan Travis and Richard Norton-Taylor
Summary: The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone's calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary. ... Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, who has firsthand experience of working with intelligence and law enforcement agencies, ... warned it would prove a "hellhouse" of personal private information.
2008-12-04 - ZDNet - Gov't comms database plans put on hold
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: Plans for a centralised database of all UK communications data were put on the backburner after draft legislation failed to appear in Wednesday's Queen's speech. The Communications Data Bill was pushed back by the Home Office to allow more consultation on the proposals next year. There is concern the bill will allow the government to store all UK communications in a £12bn super database, with Whitehall arguing that the law needs to be updated to allow police and security services to monitor and store internet traffic in the fight against terrorism and serious crime.
2008-10-30 - ZDNet - Home Office begins work on comms data
Summary: Home secretary Jacqui Smith has said her department already has a team working on how it obtains communications data. This comes before the the government has begun the consultation on a proposed parliamentary bill that would enable it to gather communications data for policing and national security purposes. "We have brought together a team to look at some of the technical solutions around what it might be necessary to do, precisely in order to be able to inform the consultation, so that work of course is ongoing," Smith told parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights on 28 October.
2008-10-15 - The Independent - Exclusive: Storm over Big Brother database
Author: Robert Verkaik and Nigel Morris
Summary: Early plans to create a giant "Big Brother" database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog.
2008-10-15 - The Telegraph - Jacqui Smith plans broad new 'Big Brother' surveillance powers
Author: Rosa Prince
Summary: Telephone calls, internet use and email will be monitored by the police as part of a broad extension of the ability of the state to snoop on citizens.
2008-10-08 - The Register - £12bn comms überdatabase 'wouldn't spot terrorists'
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: A heavyweight US investigation of counter-terror databases has concluded that the type of intelligence mining proposed by UK spy chiefs under the auspices of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) probably won't catch jihadis. The central database aspect of IMP is being discussed in secret on the basis it will "maintain capability" to examine suspects' communications activities, which in most cases are already stored by telcos. Critics charge that pooling call, mobile phone location and internet records will grant the intelligence services unprecedented powers to go on "fishing trips" for potential criminals. But Tuesday's 352-page report by the National Academies, which advise politicians on science, engineering and medicine, says that trawling databases for "suspicious" activity generates "huge numbers of false leads".
2008-10-07 - The Register - Spy chiefs plot £12bn IT spree for comms überdatabase
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Billions of pounds of public money will soon be up for grabs for private IT contractors ready to serve the Interception Modernisation Programme - UK spy chiefs' plan to store details of every call, email, text and web browsing session.
2008-10-06 - Daily Express - Spies will tap into all emails and calls
Author: Macer Hall
Summary: All telephone calls, emails and text messages in Britain will be monitored under new Government snooping plans. A £12billion identity database at the GCHQ spy centre could even log every website visited by computer users nationwide. ... Michael Parker of anti-identity card group No2ID said: "It is a shocking intrusion into privacy. This is stalking. If an individual carried out this sort of snooping, it would be a crime."
2008-10-06 - Metro - 'Stalker state' database would cost £12bn
Summary: A database costing £12billion – to hold the e-mails, phone records and internet habits of everyone in Britain – would turn the country into a 'stalker state', lobby groups have warned.
2008-10-05 - The Times - Government will spy on every call and e-mail
Author: David Leppard
Summary: Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.
2008-10-05 - The Times - There's no hiding place as spy HQ plans to see all
Author: David Leppard
Summary: Sir David Pepper who, as the director of GCHQ, the government's secret eavesdropping agency in Cheltenham, is plotting the biggest surveillance system ever created in Britain ... Pepper is masterminding an innocent-sounding project called the Interception Modernisation Programme. The scope of the project is said by officials to be so vast that it will dwarf the estimated £5 billion ministers have set aside for the identity cards programme. ... Aimed at placing a "live tap" on every electronic communication in Britain, it will dwarf other "big brother" surveillance projects ...
2008-09-25 - The Register - 'to drop' überdatabase from snoop Bill
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The government will drop plans for a massive central database to track private communications from the forthcoming Communications Data Bill, but officials will proceed with the multi-billion project in the background instead. Senior civil servants will discreetly run the project to swerve potential political opposition to a scheme which would retain details of every phone call, email, and web browsing session of every UK citizen, sources have told The Register.
2008-09-05 - ZDNet - Labour tech tsar attacks gov't comms-database plan
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: The Labour chairman of an influential technology group has warned that government plans to monitor UK email and internet records could collect too much data to be useful. ... Andrew Miller MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee, cast doubt on the value of requiring ISPs to hold such a vast amount of information, saying the data would be too broad to be useful. ... Miller said: "The worry that I have is the sheer practicality of being able to manage that data in a meaningful way." "Keeping everything from everyone might seem like a good idea, but you have to face up to reality of what the hell are we going to do with it," he added.
2008-08-19 - Gizmodo USA - 'UK Gov't Creating Centralized Snooping Silo to Monitor all Calls, Texts, Emails, IMs and Surf Histories'
Author: Adam Frucci
Summary: The UK government has decided to spend hundreds of millions of pounds (gajillions of dollars in US currency) on a huge central silo for all of the country's communications data. What'll that entail? Well, apparently "the one-stop-shop database will retain details of all calls, texts, emails, instant messenger conversations and websites accessed in the UK for up to two years." Oh my.
2008-08-19 - The Register - ' to spend hundreds of millions on snooping silo'
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The government is pressing ahead with plans to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a massive central silo for all UK communications data, The Register has learned.
2008-08-13 - The Guardian - 'Snooper's charter' to check texts and emails
Author: Alan Travis
Summary: Local councils, health authorities and hundreds of other public bodies are to be given the power to access details of everyone's personal text, emails and internet use under Home Office proposals published yesterday. Story relates to the of the Data Retntion Directive, but also references IMP.
2008-07-23 - Kable - Communications data requests top half million
Summary: Public authorities made 519,260 requests for communications data in 2007, an annualised increase of more than a half. The figure was published in the annual report of the interception of communications commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy. In the last nine months of 2006, he said that 253,557 requests for communications data were made of communication service providers, and last year's figure was 54% higher on an annualised basis.
2008-07-17 - BBC - 'No decision' on giant database
Summary: No decision has been taken to create a huge database containing details of all phone calls, e-mails and internet use, security minister Lord West says. The Information Commissioner has warned that such a database could be a "step too far for the British way of life". Asked in the House of Lords about that warning, Lord West said: "It is very early days as to where we go on this." But the switch from traditional phones meant the "entirely new" communication methods had to be assessed, he said. There have been reports that the giant database is planned for the government's proposed Communications Data Bill.
2008-07-16 - Daily Mail - Big Brother database recording all our calls, texts and e-mails will "ruin British way of life"
Author: Matthew Hickley
Summary: Plans for a massive database snooping on the entire population were condemned yesterday as a "step too far for the British way of life". In an Orwellian move, the Home Office is proposing to detail every phone call, e-mail, text message, internet search and online purchase in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime.
2008-07-16 - ZDNet - Privacy tsar: Gov't comms database 'a step too far'
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: The UK's privacy tsar has made a plea to the government not to rush through a centralised database of all UK communications. Richard Thomas said the rumoured database of UK phone and internet communications would be "a step too far for the British way of life". Thomas said in a statement: "There needs to be the fullest public debate about the justification for, and implications of, a specially created database — potentially accessible to a wide range of law-enforcement authorities — holding details of everyone's telephone and internet communications."
2008-07-15 - The Guardian - Multimillion pound security project shelved by ministers
Author: Rob Evans and Richard Norton-Taylor
Summary: A multimillion pound project designed to improve Britain's security by giving key government officials speedy access to secret intelligence on terrorism and other threats has been shelved, the Guardian has learned. Ministers have frozen the development of a secure computer network that would have radically transformed the way the security and intelligence agencies handle sensitive information. The government has refused to disclose the cost of the project, codenamed SCOPE. It has been described by parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee as marking the "beginning of the end" of distributing paper copies of intelligence reports around Whitehall and as "fundamentally changing the way the UK intelligence community interacts". A limited version of the project, called SCOPE 1, is finally up and running after a two-year delay. This is the first stage of the project and enables the intelligence agencies - MI5, MI6, and GCHQ - and a limited number of other officials, to communicate with each other more quickly and securely than before. It enables them to call up the latest intelligence within 15 minutes rather than waiting up to 12 hours.
2008-07-15 - Computing - Communications database would be a "step too far"
Author: Tom Young
Summary: A government database that held records of citizens' phone and internet communications would be going a "step too far", according to the UK privacy watchdog. While acknowledging that the monitoring of communications was important in the fight against crime, information commissioner Richard Thomas said such proposals should not go ahead without proper public and parliamentary debate.
2008-07-15 - Kable - Communications database 'a step too far'
Summary: The information commissioner has criticised the concept of a national database for details of all electronic communications. Richard Thomas questioned whether the state should extend its access to people's personal lives and called for more debate on plans to collect data. "There needs to be the fullest public debate about the justification for, and implications of, a specially created database – potentially accessible to a wide range of law enforcement authorities – holding details of everyone's telephone and internet communications," Thomas said on 15 July 2008. "Do we really want the police, security services and other organs of the state to have access to more and more aspects of our private lives?"
2008-07-15 - BBC Online - Warning over phone calls database
Summary: A central database holding details of everyone's phone calls and emails could be a "step too far for the British way of life", ministers have been warned. Plans for such a database are rumoured to be in the Communications Data Bill.
2008-07-15 - BBC iPM - Communications Data Bill: cause for concern?
Author: Jennifer Tracey
Summary: How do you feel about the possibility of a centralised police database holding details of every phone call and text message you've sent and websites you've visited?
2008-07-15 - ZDNet - Critics attack 'dangerous' gov't comms-snooping plan
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: Internet service providers are to be invited to tender for a government scheme to monitor all internet communications and telecommunications. Under the proposed Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to link 'black boxes' to their servers to record all internet traffic, including details of emails, VoIP telephone conversations, instant messages and browsing habits. Telephone conversations would also be monitored.
2008-07-12 - BBC Online - Fears grow over information plans
Summary: Government plans to collect more data on mobile phone calls and internet usage have been further criticised as an attack on civil liberties.
2008-06-23 - Liberal Conspiracy - If I could commission one government IT project
Author: Lynne Featherstone MP
Summary: I've been pretty critical of two massive government IT projects - the existing plans to introduce mandatory identity cards with a huge database behind them and also the Home Office talk of a database of all phone calls and emails made anywhere in the country. My criticisms in both cases are three-fold: the money involved could be better spent on other projects (such as giving us more police rather than keeping huge databases of the activities of innocent people), they involve a huge infringement of our liberties and privacy, and - thirdly - big IT projects like this are likely to go wrong and to be vulnerable to misuse.
2008-05-22 - Computer Weekly - Revealed - Government plans to tap phone and internet use
Author: Cath Jennings
Summary: The Home Office is considering radical plans to develop a centralised surveillance system to track in real-time every kind of electronic activity undertaken by citizens. The project, driven by intelligence services, would require the development of a surveillance system unprecedented in its scope and technical sophistication.
2008-05-21 - Society for Computers and Law - Communications Data Bill: ICO Repeats Warning on Surveillance Society
Summary: The ICO has released a statement expressing concerns about the Government plans for a Communications Data Bill. The Government plans for a Communications Data Bill, outlined in its draft legislative programme, have received a pretty distrustful reaction from the ICO.
2008-05-20 - - Critics attack gov't email, phone database plan
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: All email, blogs, instant messaging and VoIP calls could be monitored under government proposals - but critics warn the plans go too far. As of last September telecoms providers must keep all text and phone call records for up to two years under an EU directive, and this is to be rolled out to include all online traffic by 2009 at the latest.
2008-05-20 - ZDNet - Gov't planning centralised communications database
Author: David Meyer
Summary: Privacy and IT security experts have reacted with horror to reported government plans that would see UK citizens' internet and telephony usage details stored in a massive centralised database.
2008-05-20 - The Times - "Big Brother" database for phones and e-mails
Author: Richard Ford
Summary: A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.
2008-05-15 - - Government orders data retention by ISPs
Summary: Phone and internet companies will soon be forced to keep logs of internet usage to be made available to the police under a new law announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week. The law, the Communications Data Bill, will implement the remainder of the European Union's Data Retention Directive.