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UK Government Plans 10-Year Database of Citizens' Travel 289

Posted by timothy
from the always-on-vacation-in-oceania dept.
moderators_are_w*nke writes "The UK government is planning yet another database to track its citizens, this time keeping track of their movements in and out of the country for ten years. Just like all their other databases, this one 'is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and [of course] terrorism.'" I'd be very surprised if the US is not already doing this, and just not making a point to let anyone know.
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UK Government Plans 10-Year Database of Citizens' Travel

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  • Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:00AM (#26780893) Homepage Journal

    I'm sick of hearing that we, here in the UK, are 'marching toward' a Police State (I think we essentially have one, it's just being applied in a low-key and selective manner at the moment). May I make an appeal that we can all agree that the bunch of ex-communist sympathisers who rule the country at the moment, at least WANT a police state?

    Then perhaps we can move forward instead of repeating the self-defeating 'walking toward' mantra.

    • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:09AM (#26780933)

      If Wikipedia's definition of a police state is accurate, the fact it's applied "in a low-key and selective manner" really does mean "marching toward" rather than "having arrived".

      We can only hope that the western world, having known freedom, will revolt while they still have enough of that freedom left to effectively do so. Not saying that time is now, but if the governments keep heading in the direction they are, it's only a matter of time.

      Ideally, one would vote the nations out of these issues instead. But if all the parties are caught up in the hysteria, what's there left to do.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        >>>We can only hope that the western world, having known freedom, will revolt while they still have enough of that freedom left to effectively do so.

        Dear British Cousins,

        If this law to track citizens' movement were passed in America, we would exercise our second amendment rights. We would tell our parliamentarians: Real this law or die. Government is there to SERVE the people, not to be a master. Politicians who desire to be masters need to be "fired" by their employers, the People.

        A concerned l

        • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nursie (632944) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:52AM (#26781361)

          How's that working out for you?

          The US already does much of the stuff the UK does. You have free speech zones, warrantless wiretaps, your homeland security theatre...

          The US public is too complacent to revolt, and too "patriotic".

          • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556) on Monday February 09, 2009 @09:27AM (#26782259) Journal

            warrantless wiretaps of overseas calls

            Fixed that for you.

            The US public is too complacent to revolt, and too "patriotic".

            Eh, you may have a point there, but the 2nd amendment raises an interesting issue. Historically the right to keep and bear arms came from the Common Law. In the UK you've allowed parliamentary supremacy to take away this time honored right. If they can do it to that right then why can't they take away your right to a trial by jury, your right against self-incrimination, or any of the other rights that you hold so dear?

            Say what you will about the United States but at least it takes more than a majority vote in the House of Representatives to start taking away our rights. You'd also need a majority vote in the US Senate, the signature of the President (or 2/3'rds vote in the aforementioned chambers), the acquiescence of the 50 States and the Federal judiciary.

            • by Nursie (632944)

              "Say what you will about the United States but at least it takes more than a majority vote in the House of Representatives to start taking away our rights. You'd also need a majority vote in the US Senate, the signature of the President (or 2/3'rds vote in the aforementioned chambers), the acquiescence of the 50 States and the Federal judiciary."

              Wow, what a load of old cod.

              You might need that to do certain things, and do them by the book, but it seems to me that you can get away with what you like so long a

              • Re:Police State (Score:4, Interesting)

                by Shakrai (717556) on Monday February 09, 2009 @10:02AM (#26782561) Journal

                You might need that to do certain things, and do them by the book, but it seems to me that you can get away with what you like so long as you cover it up for a bit and then grant retrospective immunity to everyone involved. And if you think your government, with all it's DHA, TSA and other such stuff isn't keeping a record of everywhere you go, well... I disagree!

                Keeping a record of everywhere I go doesn't violate my rights. I question why the government needs such a record but if you think this started with TSA you are sadly mistaken [ezpass.com].

                Surely the last government proved to you that the US executive can and will do whatever they like?

                Actually, SCOTUS shot down several policies of the US executive so I think my underlying point still stands. The worst problem of the last eight years wasn't Bush (every single President since Washington has tried to expand executive power) but the manner in which the Congress rubber-stamped his policies for the first six years.

                Also, who cares whether the calls were made to/from overseas places?

                Historically the Government has had broader powers [wikipedia.org] at the border and some of your rights may not apply when crossing that border. That doesn't mean I support all of those powers (if the call is between two Americans I don't think they have any right to be listening) but claiming that this is something new shows that you haven't really researched the topic as throughly as you should.

                "Shouldna bin talkin' to them furr-ners anyway"?

                Yes, any American that might see the historical basis for this kind of policy is automatically the stereotypical xenophobe and can be dismissed as such.

            • Re:Police State (Score:4, Interesting)

              by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:24AM (#26783651)

              Eh, you may have a point there, but the 2nd amendment raises an interesting issue. Historically the right to keep and bear arms came from the Common Law. In the UK you've allowed parliamentary supremacy to take away this time honored right. If they can do it to that right then why can't they take away your right to a trial by jury, your right against self-incrimination, or any of the other rights that you hold so dear?

              As an American, I find that a little misleading. The second amendment is not going to do a jot for you if the feds decide its time to SWAT you out of existence. Its at best a palliative that gives us a false sense of security. As to the right to trial by jury, there are plenty of people our government is holding, who do not even "exist", let alone are ever tried, or tried by jury.

              Say what you will about the United States but at least it takes more than a majority vote in the House of Representatives to start taking away our rights. You'd also need a majority vote in the US Senate, the signature of the President (or 2/3'rds vote in the aforementioned chambers), the acquiescence of the 50 States and the Federal judiciary.

              Nice in theory, but doesn't work in practice. Frighten the congressmen/women enough, fool the people enough and you can make them dance any which way you want. Even allow the President to declare war on a neutral country in the name of national security, or pay billions to fight STDs in the name of economic stimulus.

              The reason is that our media is a part of the establishment. Whether its CNN's love affair with the Democrats or Fox's marriage to the Republicans, an ignorant, naturally insular populace such as ours is ripe pickings for these charlatans who call themselves our leaders. We are pretty much as scr*w*d as the Brits are. Except that most them know it. We still are living in our fantasy land.

              • Re:Police State (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Shakrai (717556) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:38AM (#26783899) Journal

                As an American, I find that a little misleading. The second amendment is not going to do a jot for you if the feds decide its time to SWAT you out of existence.

                Well I would dispute that notion (it would matter if the Feds decided to SWAT a whole bunch of people out of existence) but that wasn't the underlying point I was trying to make. My underlying point was that the people of the UK sheepishly agreed to surrender a right that they had held for hundreds of years. That's a pretty dangerous precedent to set, IMHO, and why should we believe that any of the other rights will be respected if that one wasn't?

                As to the right to trial by jury, there are plenty of people our government is holding, who do not even "exist", let alone are ever tried, or tried by jury.

                The difference between someone captured on the battlefield and someone captured within the United States should be plain to everybody. Do you also think that we lost the right to trial by jury because we didn't afford it to the POWs we captured in the Civil War/Spanish-American War/WW1/WW2/Korea or Vietnam?

                Even allow the President to declare war on a neutral country in the name of national security

                I opposed the Iraq War but you should at least acknowledge that it was the stated policy [wikipedia.org] of our country since the 90s to change the regime in Iraq. It's not like Bush picked a random country off to map to invade and bullied Congress into letting him do it.

                or pay billions to fight STDs in the name of economic stimulus.

                Well, I oppose that too, but it's interesting that you are bringing up pork in a discussion about civil liberties. Which civil liberties do I lose if Congress decides to fight STDs? My right to keep and bear chlamydia? ;)

                The reason is that our media is a part of the establishment.

                The media has it's own agenda -- selling copy. I would dispute that you can make a blanket statement that 'the media' is part of 'the establishment'. 'The media' is a pretty broad term. Slashdot is part of the media. Is Slashdot part of the establishment? How about 2600? They part of the establishment?

                We are pretty much as scr*w*d as the Brits are. Except that most them know it. We still are living in our fantasy land.

                I disagree. The fact that several states stood up and told Washington to fuck off with regards to Real ID tells me that we are far ahead of the Brits.

            • Re:Police State (Score:4, Insightful)

              by scruffy (29773) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:23PM (#26784771)

              warrantless wiretaps of overseas calls

              You must have missed this story:

              http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/01/nsa-whistleblower-says-journos-were-targeted.ars [arstechnica.com]

              "The NSA had access to all Americans' communications: faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications," said Tice. "It didn't matter whether you were in Kansas in the middle of the country and you never made any foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications."

        • Re:Police State (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hobbit (5915) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:59AM (#26781399)

          If this law to track citizens' movement were passed in America, we would exercise our second amendment rights

          I hear this sort of thing a lot from Americans, but it really isn't borne out by the evidence.

        • by N1AK (864906)
          Tell me when the British people sit by when it is discovered that our government has been illegally and secretly spying on its own citizens. Right about then you'll have shown us to be just as spineless in the face of the police state as you are.

          You can keep polishing your rifle while dreaming about storming the capital building, but frankly with their 3 million military personnel I doubt you'll have them quaking in their boots.
          • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:48AM (#26781609) Journal

            The eastern Europeans stormed their capitals in 1990-91, and in the face of an armed communist military, and yet they still managed to reclaim their freedom.

            • by Yokaze (70883)

              > The eastern Europeans stormed their capitals in 1990-91

              Hardly an argument in favour of the 2nd amendment, as they overthrow their dictatorships without yielding any weapons (in 1989 [wikipedia.org], btw).

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by tolgyesi (1240062)
              People are sheep. They revolt when someone makes it the craze/fashion/whatever, but then let the country become the same crap as in the west. Here in Hungary we can choose between two similarly corrupt parties, just like everywhere else I see.

              I have seen some good ideas to change things. For example to allow voters to say yes to more than one candidate - so they can vote for the third or fourth party and can still have a say in the fight between the two strongest. Here is one such site: http://www.rangevo [rangevoting.org]

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Voters don't even know how to punch-out a chad*, how on earth would they handle a scoring system??? I don't think that would work. Maybe we could get away with Australian ballots, where you assign 1 for your favorite (McCain), 2 for your second favorite (Harry Browne), and so on, but that's about it.

                *
                *I think it was less stupidity, and more laziness. The instructions said to verify the holes were punched out of your ballot, prior to handing it in, but like a typical school student, SOME of the voters wer

          • You can keep polishing your rifle while dreaming about storming the capital building, but frankly with their 3 million military personnel I doubt you'll have them quaking in their boots.

            True. It's the loyalties of those 3 million military personnel, and recently released veterans, that are the ultimate limit to the power of our government.

            Of course, it helps that the recently released veterans do have rifles. A lot of them also know exactly how the US military fights an insurgency.

        • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:45AM (#26781601)

          If this law to track citizens' movement were passed in America, we would exercise our second amendment rights. We would tell our parliamentarians: Real this law or die. Government is there to SERVE the people, not to be a master. Politicians who desire to be masters need to be "fired" by their employers, the People.

          I wish Americans had the testicular fortitude to do this. Unfortunately since, idk, the civil war we have been pretty trusting of government (even if we talk a lot of smack about Washington and politics). In fact, not only are we not willing to give an ultimatum to the Federal government, we keep electing politicians who ensure more of the same (albeit in different trappings sometimes). The only way something like this would ever happen is if the economy when to complete shit and you had large numbers of people (> say 30%) unemployed and the rest unable to live in any sort of comfort. Americans are just too comfortable to make real change.

          • Re:Police State (Score:4, Insightful)

            by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Monday February 09, 2009 @10:22AM (#26782749) Homepage

            The only way to get a revolution (almost anywhere) is by hitting people directly in their pockets. American Civil War: slaves were a cheap workforce and not having them or having to pay them was bad for a lot of people's business. Thus they revolted. Same goes for the Soviets. They went along as long as they weren't affected. As soon as people started disappearing on large scales and the whole 'communist' thing meant that they were working but weren't getting food but the big wigs in the Party did get all the perks of the communist idea they started revolting. Same for the French: As long as they had it fairly good they went along. But then when the government started raising taxes to the point of famine they started revolting. African nations the same: as long as they are fed they will be fine with whatever ruler comes along, have 1 group/tribe/area excluded from food and that group is larger than a village, that group will start a rebel movement or a civil war. Israel-Palestine is trickier because they will kill each other because they hate each other but the same goes there: having 2 states is all fine and well even with the occasional bombing but one side starts to close borders and rationing food/gas/supplies and you'll have a revolt.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by damburger (981828)

      Please don't try to make this a left-right issue; the Tories only ever oppose such plans to gain political traction. Much of the mentality of New Labour is inherited from their ideological forebearers in the Tory party.

      The fact that a bunch of old trots and stalinists could so easily switch over to thatcherism to me shows a fundamental similarity; the cynical treatment of man as an economic machine, a belief in political and economic rationalism to the point of total dehumanisation, and a utopian vision tha

    • by mikeb (6025)

      A pound to a penny that is not about terrorism but about taxes. Whenever you see a government doing ANYTHING these days, I strongly recommend that you think 'Hmm, is this revenue related?' before considering anything else.

      The UK apparently believes that it's losing around GBP 15 billion per annum in tax to various offshore and other borderline legal tax avoidance schemes.

      One such scheme is to claim that you are non-resident for tax purposes. It used to be the case that you could be non-resident and visit fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nursie (632944)

        Whist tracking down tax avoidance is good, I can't help feeling they could save us a buttload more money by getting rid of all their surveillance crap and cutting deeply into public spending.

        Make the UK a genuinely low-taxed capitalist country (as it damn well should be, even with the NHS) and the rich won't feel as much need to evade.

    • If this is a police state, where are my doughnuts?!

      - Aggrieved Sugar-Deficient Brit

  • by Goffee71 (628501) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:05AM (#26780915) Homepage
    ...is going straight to jail(the new Morcambe Bay maximum security anti-terror gulag!)Look at all those dodgy Twitter posts - America, Australia, America, Luxembourg - the chap is a one-man axis of evil!
  • No big deal. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You have had this for years. The government holds your travel records for the last 30 years, then they are moved to the national archives where they are public domain. They are often used when you apply for dual citizenship.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:09AM (#26780931)
    Oh goody, more security theatre.

    If the plan is to see how many baddies go to "suspect" countries (obviously with nefarious intent - not simply because they might have family there, or like traveling), then it's easily negated by traveling to a "friendly" country and booking onwards from there. As usual with govt. hare-brained schemes, this will track the millions of holidaymakers and completely miss any people who have half an interest in concealing their true intentions. Meantime, we are all tracked, tested, tagged, followed and surveilled to an even greater extent. All this does is add to the general sense of oppression in the country, and adds to the sheer volume of innocous data collected - while leaving those with both the motivation and the organisation free to carry on as they wish, safe int he knowledge that the "intelligence" services are snowed under in an avalanche of useless data.

    • What's all this good people bad people bollocks? The information is far more likely to be used for marketing than for counter-terrorism.
    • by julesh (229690)

      If the plan is to see how many baddies go to "suspect" countries

      What makes you think that's the plan? Info on travel to any other country is useful in catching benefit fraudsters and tax dodgers.

  • by Malc (1751) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:12AM (#26780947)

    ... that they're not already doing this.

    I believe Canada does it. When I returned to Canada last year from one of my trips, the guy at the border swiped my passport, looked at the computer screen, and commented on how much I travel. He hadn't even looked at all the visas and stamps in passport.

    The US has definitely been keeping track of everything for years. When I went for the final interview for enrolment in the Nexus programme, the US immigration guy swiped my Canadian passport. After a while he asked me what happened at Detroit in Oct 2000. I'd been refused entry whilst travelling on my British passport, before I had Canadian permanent residency and long before citizenship, but he'd connected my two passports.

    • by MarkRose (820682) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:01AM (#26781149) Homepage
      Canada has been for years, yes. The only time I have not had my ID scanned when returning to Canada was on a tour bus where the guard just looked at my passport. The US guards are particularly anal. Last time I crossed into the US, the guard accused me of trying to move there because I had crossed a week earlier. Although there is one crossing where I've never had trouble -- because there is no guard [wikipedia.org].
    • Same here but this article is probably about taking that data and archiving it in a database elsewhere with a nifty web front end so higher ups can import it into excel and fabricate correlations before leaving it on a running laptop on the tube after going to the pub and having a drink or 10 too many.
    • Considering 99.9999% of people traveling are legit, it must be sooo brain dead boring asking the same questions, quizing people, interogating people, and finding out most are legit, and very very very few are crims/baddasses.

      How sad it must be to go home and say, "F*CK, I screened 8200 people, and only 1 hit!!!, what a dull day!"

      That must really make them eager to bust people, be over zealous and find the most minute thing to detain people on.

    • But what *did* happen at Detroit in Oct 2000?

  • More security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by retech (1228598) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:27AM (#26780987)
    Somehow just does not make me feel more secure.
  • by itsybitsy (149808) * on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:45AM (#26781071)

    An project open to the public is hereby initiated to track and publish the movements of ALL GOVERNMENT STAFF from ALL branches and departments of ALL governments in ALL countries around the world. No government business is to be carried out unless all participants are video recorded and broadcast LIVE to the public around the world. No business of the public is valid unless it's public! Track all government officials, staff, employees. Record when they are with you and publish on the web. Develop and design tracking systems to monitor all communications of all government operatives anywhere and anywhen, anyhow. Their work is not valid public business unless it's fully PUBLIC!

    Little Brothers Unite Against the Oppressive Big Brothers.

  • by damburger (981828) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:03AM (#26781155)

    ...it is going to be left on a train by some retard in the civil service.

    I don't know what is worse - totalitarian government collecting information on us all or totalitarian collecting information on us all and then fucking losing it.

    Writing this, I do feel perhaps I am exaggerating a bit with the word totalitarian, considering some of the other regimes that have been described as such. So I would be interested to get some perspective from someone who lived in Eastern Europe under communism (was it really 20 years ago? fuck I am getting old) and now lives in the UK - on a scale of 1 to Glorious Peoples Republic Knows What Is Best For All, how buggared are we at the moment?

  • So this is different from the current state of things... how? I guarantee every time you enter or leave almost any country, it's already logged. Particularly the more technologically advanced countries we know as the "First World".

  • I'd be very surprised if the US is not already doing this, and just not making a point to let anyone know.

    If the US does this, it's fairly recent; the US did not use to keep a lot of records. And if they don't let anybody know about it, that means that they can't be using it as part of regular legal proceedings (otherwise you'd know about it), which is a big part of the reason why people are concerned with the government collecting all this data. And US government agencies are restricted in the kind of da

  • Using facebook, twitter and all that crap, we practially give away our privacy... so why blame the government for just downloading what is publicly available?

    We all notice what is going on. And we all care... for about 5 seconds. And then we're distracted again.

    I'm sure I care about my privacy... but I just don't spend enough time on it to really get involved in any revolt against the police state. Unless you can really revolt using twitter or facebook. I fear that a proper revolt is still done with barrica

  • DDOS (Score:5, Funny)

    by giafly (926567) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:27AM (#26781271)
    If you live in Eire or Northern Ireland, near the border, please could you spend a few minutes stepping from one to the other.

    Not only will this improve your aerobic fitness, but all your "journeys in and out of the UK" could help overload this stupid system
  • Cool... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:27AM (#26781275)
    ... this can only lead to one thing. A huge project costing many hundreds of millions, which will then run over budget by at least a multiple of two, as well as be delivered years late, and finally be scrapped when it can't handle anywhere near the number of records it was designed to handle; as well as having no meaning querying facility.

    I just love it when the government wastes my money like this. It's so much more interesting to watch than when they build stuff that's actually needed like clean waste disposal sites, fresh water reserviours, and public transportation infrastructure. That stuff is usually completed on time, under budget, and works as advertised - how boring.
  • Whenever I used to visit Italy before the borders agreement, hotels and boarding houses used to take your passport away and record details that went to the police. As for Switzerland...I remember crossing on a small country road over the Jura once. One of our party had his passport in the trunk, and took several minutes to find it. This immediately caused the border guard to decide that he had been hoping to get across the border without showing it. We were held up for half an hour while, I think, they inve
    • Lots of other countries may well be worse, and we may well not be in a police state yet. But you concede that civil liberties are being threatened by some in the government. Thus we are moving towards a police state, even if we are a long way off. Two obvious questions are:
      • how close should we get to a police state before you think it is dangerous? (or, less contentiously, how much government snooping is reasonable, for the greater good?)
      • And should we encourage people to get used to asking questions ab
  • I am a US Citizen and my partner is English. A lot of people may not know this, but when you fly into the UK and you are not a citizen, you are subjected to extremely close scrutiny. You are required to provide proof of onward travel. Every time I go there now, I am very nervous because I may be accused of overstaying my visa -- not necessarily in UK, but elsewhere, like Europe -- anything that may cast doubt on my tourist status while in UK. True, my partner is English and we are not married, but I am basi

  • ... who sees it beneficial to know about the terrorists travel history. It could help to know that he visited a brother in Amsterdam the month before and gambled at Las Vegas before blowing himself up.

    Seriously?

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:33PM (#26790219)
    This just in, the Home secretary announces that the database will be hosted on a laptop left on the passenger seat of a car.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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