Open Ballot: You've got to fight, for your right, for privacy.

The government of the United Kingdom has proposed legislation which will allow them to monitor their citizens online activity in real time: This, in our opinion, is a massive and unwarranted intrusion into our lives.

Of course, there are ways of evading this snooping (like Tor), but now is the time for political solutions so that technical ones don't become necessary.

Here at LXF towers, we feel that we shouldn't just sit idly by as our civil liberties are taken from us. So our open ballot question is this: What is the best method for making our protest heard? If we sign ePetitions, will our voices be heard? Should we meet with our MPs? Donate to the EFF? Dress as penguins and camp outside 10 Downing St? Or do you have any better ideas?

We're open to suggestions. Let us know your ideas in the comments below.

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Your comments

monitor them

one or two politicians caught having naked on-line chat ought to kill the whole discussion. Who's up for some entrapment?

Use the system

What about fighting the system using the system?

Of course you can use some tools to protect your web navigation & data, but that will give them a reason to put you on the spotlight: "what are you hiding?" and make your life really dificult.

Instead why don't create a petition asking who is in charge of monitoring the citizens, who put him there, does he is qualified, does he have a relationship with any type of company, and most of all: what kind of information are they collecting and what are they doing with it. It must be their duty to answer those questions.

Create a new statement on the system: So you are going to spy on us, ok. But we whant detailed information about who is in charge of this and what are you doing with our info, because not everybody is a terrorist, a hacker or a pirate.

I would have thought...

I would have thought they were already doing it, however the law currently requires a warrant to be issued before telephones at tapped or mail intercepted. Surely that is enough for normal investigations.

Now if the intention is to trawl through all "conversations" for security information, that is another thing and I don't think I would trust anybody to oversee such an operation. Governments can go rogue too.

Maybe everybody should include phrases like "bomb", "secret meeting" and "device" in all their communications plus, a paragraph of meaningless characters for an "encrypted" section?

It won't make any difference...

Sorry for the Aliens quote. I think that it doesn't really make any difference what we do. Unless, of course, we match the bribes offered to the government by the parties pushing for control, whatever we try will just be ignored.

More power needed

This law does not go far enough to ensure proper security as anyone is still free to interact without using email/phone etc.

We should propose an extension to the law that requires every person in the UK to document any interaction with another person. Then a true picture of who is talking to who can be painted.

In order to prove the usefulness of such a system we could even implement it ourselves. A website and app that lets you fill in who you have spoken to would be fairly straightforward. It could then email your local MP each time you have a conversation. The flood of useless information would surely let them see their folly in introducing such half baked law.

Not just the UK government

From the BBC:

"Internet service providers (ISPs) are obliged to keep details of users' web access, email and internet phone calls for 12 months, under an EU directive from 2009."

Exactly the same thing is being proposed here in Austria. EU countries need to transpose these directives into law eventually. While we're right to blame our governments for this, we should really be targeting the EU -- that wonderful bastion of transparency and democracy.

Use old technology

We could always "go dark" and switch off our computers and phones. At the same time, either via standard Royal Mail or a personal messenger on horse-back (not trackable via the internet), we could continue to communicate.

Another neat trick might be to introduce a new "small ads" page in Linux Format Magazine, whereby coded messages could be sent in via the above described methods or delivered in person, in order to get a message "out there". Responses would be provided via the same method in the following edition. To make it extra secret, this page would not be available to digital subscribers.

Yes, it could mean a normal text to my mum about what I needed from the shops would now take over a month to be delivered and responded to, but at least "the man" wouldn't know what my favourite breakfast cereal was.

Write to your MP

I've often written to my MP, and always get a response back. Sometimes they do their usual trick of avoiding my question and then telling me what my question should have been, however, if you are firm in your letter that only your specific question should be answered, such as those suggested above by NotAnonymous Penguin, then a decent reply ought to be forthcoming.

Also we could ask whether or not data collected on us would be available to view by us. Under the Data Protection Act any UK citizen is entitled to a report detailing what information an organisation holds about them. Not sure if the UK Govt would see it in the same way, but can't hurt to ask.

I'm not worried

Just so long as they don't find out about the bombs I'm storing at 1slipperyfish's place to sabotage the Queen's Jubilee, I'm not worried.

They don't monitor this site, do they?

I'm not worried either

I've stashed some queens a 1sf's... they're stuffed with jubilees

Rhakios I'm sure you're safe it's the others I'm worried about ;-)

Go old school

I'm starting to safeguard my computer already with an extremely advanced and sophisticated way of staying "off the record" all I'm struggling with is getting my typewriter hooked up to facebook chat

Protestations come to naught

I too feel very uneasy that - unless the reports I've read are wrong - the security services are free to go on unsupervised "fishing expeditions" though our data. It's maybe small consolation that it's only the to: and from: addresses on mails that are being tracked, not the actual content.

Someone suggested a nude protest in front of the parliments (London, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parli), personally I think that a little too radical for me.

I'd go with the write-to-your-mp bit, perhaps even a form-letter that you could fill in the relevant details. Follow that up with a website, Facebook and Twitter protest on a designated "freedom day". We've seen how much coverage the downing of websites against SOPA got - so how about putting a standard protest banner on sites to show your opposition to the bill. Same deal with Facebook - put a "badge" on your wall. And Twitter - include a special hash tag in all messages.

My Thoughts

First of all, I live in America, so this doesn't directly affect me. Remember the SOPA protest a couple months ago? That worked quite well; there wasn't a single person with Internet access who didn't know about it. That seems to be the best way to stop a legislation, pretty much give it a lot of negative publicity. Also, sign your e-petitions and write to your Congres... Senato... whoever you write to in the UK.

SOPA Protest

I agree with jarubyh. I live in Canada so this doesn't impact me either but neither did SOPA, however, I promise you that nearly every Canadian noticed when Wikipedia was down that day and everyone was talking about it (not just geeks) as well as Canadian politicians. All you need to do is convince some very large and important websites to agree to shut themselves down for a day...

Antisnooping distro

The disto would use full disk encryption by default.

The distro would automatically generate a PGP key when we set up our e-mail accounts, include our public keys by default with all e-mails we send and automatically encrypt messages to people we have keys for.

Web browsing would be SSL by default and through encrypted proxy servers located outside of the UK. The spooks do have access to root certs and can man-in-the-middle SSL so the browser would need a plugin that can warn if the certificate issuer for a web site changes unexpectedly.

If all else fails we can move to China. They've less CCTV there too.

Junk mail to GCHQ

Instead of 'return to sender' on the envelope of junk mail through my letter box I'm going to provide a return address of 10 Downing Street instead.

And whilst I'm at it I'm going to sign up for all of the junk mail I can and provide GCHQs mailing address.

If they want to read my mail they can effing have it.



Pony Express

I think the 'who's in charge' question is the big one here. If such a law were to go through, then at a minimum we'd need to insist on it being symmetrical, so that everyone - even us law-abiding citizens - would have access to the data the spooks get, including being able to instantly and easily know when our communications are being tapped. Let's face it, the government couldn't keep a lid on a jam jar, so they might as well open it up officially anyway.

To answer the actual question, I think we should demand the above in one or, preferably, all of the following ways:

- Banner ads on all UK websites proclaiming "[MP's name] wants to read your emails, chats and cloud documents as easily as (s)he can read this website"

- Letters and petitions to MPs, delivered by messenger on horse, foot or bicycle (to both attract attention and make the point that some things still aren't tracked)

- A dedicated offshore website to publish whatever Semi-Anonymous Penguin catches politicians doing online. :o)

38 degrees

I went the 38 degrees petition route but agree emailing MPs is good too. 38 degrees have 100000 signatures apparently...

Cowords will be trated acordingly.

Stop paying taxes.

Absolute Power corrupts absolutely

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those words are emphatically correct. Governments only stay in power because the people they govern allow them to stay in power and it is the people’s responsibility to keep them in check and not allow them to run amok. Allowing the government to browse through everyone’s personal correspondence without benefit of probably cause or warrants is like letting a group of perverted fraternity brothers to browse through sorority lingerie drawers without checks. Eventually the sororities will be without lingerie and bare to the world just like the citizens will be if this legislation is passed.

Would Never Work

The Government has a history of failure when it comes to major IT projects. The Tax Office, NHS, DWP were all going to get all singing all dancing systems but just ended up with a steaming pile of fail.
Why do we think this will be any different?
They have no idea what would be involved in such a system and would award the tender to the cheapest bid.

It's a gas.

If this goes through, EVERYONE should start including a paragraph in their emails, full of expressions like: "It's a gas", "the party kicked off like a bomb", "what's your poison?" etc etc.

If a pair of human eyes has to check every email that gets flagged up because of a dodgy key word, this could bring the system down very quickly.

Awareness to the general

Awareness to the general population is the most important aspect as I see it.
This has to be front-and-centre in the popular media, and ensure maximum exposure through social networking sites.
If the average person knows about this and it's talked about/discussed/debated, only then will our voices be heard.

Some options to support might be :-

1. EFF sponsorship and creation of a full page advert in main UK newspapers.
2. Newsnight - it's got a huge following and influence with the middle-classes, who will be outraged.
3. Question Time - someone go to the show and ask the question of the panel.
4. Social networking to cover awareness, and links back to a single e-petition to get over the 100,000 votes needed for anyone in power to take this seriously.

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