16 Jul 2008


Hi all,

Given the importance of such data in the McCann case where Gerry is refusing to disclose details of texts sent to him from a mystery person the day before Madeleine died and the day after, and his extensive use of his computer (which he just happened to have handy) and presumably mobile to access the internet/send messages via both, I think the report below raises an interesting dilemma. I am sure none of us relish the thought of the government being able to read and listen to everything we do, it is a gross invasion when we have to think, hang on a minute could someone be listening in to this? But do the benefits outweigh the costs?

There can clearly be no doubt the police are struggling to successfully prosecute Kate and Gerry even though they know for a fact Madeleine died in their apartment at a time when only the McCanns could have been in that apartment with her. In the climate in the UK of such a massive number of children going missing every year, c. 77,000, most of these by various issues of foul play, I think it is right that we utilise the technology to investigate and prosecute such people. Maybe the McCann
case could have even been the inspiration behind this idea given it was initially proposed earlier this year! If you have parents who behave as badly as this and then blatantly refuse to co-operate in the investigation then surely the police should have all weapons in their armoury against them to get them successfully prosecuted and locked up. Children above all, must be protected from wicked people. There are many more serious crimes against children that spring to mind where such detailed records would be so helpful to tracking down traffickers and paedophiles etc, apart from killers.

What do others think?

Viv x

Big Brother database recording all our calls, texts and e-mails will 'ruin British way of life'
By Matthew HickleyLast updated at 1:36 AM on 16th July 2008
Comments (9)
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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.
But the privacy watchdog, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, warned that the public’s traditional freedoms were under grave threat from creeping state surveillance.

Big Brother: Critics warn our surveillance culture is going too far
Apart from the Government’s inability to hold data securely, he said the proposals raised ‘grave questions’.
‘Do the risks we face provide justification for such a scheme in the first place? Do we want the state to have details of more and more aspects of our private lives?
‘Whatever the benefits, would such a scheme amount to excessive surveillance? Would this be a step too far for the British way of life?’
It is thought the scheme would allow the police or MI5 to access the exact time when a phone call was made, the number dialled, the length of the call and, in the case of mobile phones, the location of the handset to within an accuracy of a few hundred yards.
Similarly for e-mails, it would provide details of when they were sent and who the recipients were. Police recovering a suspect’s computer would then be able to trawl through hard-drive records and recover particular messages. The content of telephone calls could not be recovered unless they were being intercepted at the time.
Mr Thomas’s warnings were backed by privacy campaigners, who claimed such Big Brother powers would give Government agencies unprecedented abilities to trawl through intimate details of ordinary people’s private lives at will.
He used the launch of his annual report to speak out after ministers signalled their intentions in their programme of legislation earlier this year, describing the new Bill as ‘modifying procedures for acquiring communications data’.

Warning: Information Commissioner Richard Thomas
There are fears that the data will be shared with foreign governments – such as the Americans demanding personal details of air passengers – accessed by internet hackers or lost by bungling civil servants.
Opponents pointed out that town halls are already using extraordinary surveillance powers under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to investigate minor issues such as littering, or checking whether parents are abusing school catchment area rules, and they could be given access to almost unthinkable levels of personal data under the new scheme.
Currently police and MI5 can access customer records stored by telephone companies, but only with a warrant to examine individual accounts.
Mr Thomas said: ‘I am absolutely clear that the targeted and duly-authorised interception of the communications of suspects can be invaluable in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime.
‘But 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.
'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?’
Opposition MPs said the Government’s dismal records on safeguarding private data – most notably the loss of the entire child benefit database holding millions of people’s financial details – showed it was incapable of safeguarding such a vast volume of information safely, and the scheme should be dropped immediately. An estimated-three billion emails are sent in Britain every day and last year 57billion text messages were sent.
The Home Office yesterday defended the need to keep its surveillance powers up to date with changing internet technology, and said full details of the plans would be published this year as part of a new Communications Data Bill.
Officials said the internet was rapidly revolutionising communications and it was vital for surveillance powers to keep up with technology in order to fight serious crime and terrorism.
DNA database
Britain's crime-fighting DNA database was the world’s first, in 1995, and is now the world’s largest.
Originally samples were taken from those arrested but destroyed if they were not convicted. Today anyone who is arrested - even if innocent - has DNA taken without consent, even if it has nothing to do with the case. It is added to the database, and stays there forever. It is virtually impossible to have it removed.
Unsurprisingly, new entries are being added at the rate of more than a million a year.
Number plate checks
Police forces use hundreds of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras across the UK, some at fixed sites and some in cars.
Computers are able to compare numbers with a national database of cars which may be stolen, or whose owners are wanted for questioning.
Each check takes around four seconds.
Since last year, the Government has been developing a central database which also records the details every time a car passes an ANPR camera, anywhere in Britain.


viv said...

This is from the official court documents, clearly investigators would not say to a Supreme Court Judge that Gerry received 14 texts the day before Madeleine died and 4 the day after, if this were not true. But Gerry just denies it. Well this just shows what a liar he is and just how much this man has to hide. 14 texts THE DAY BEFORE.......now what if our government could just access those, well maybe they already can. As part of a criminal investigation, they can get access to phone records, that is a fact! We should never forget that the Portuguese are investigating the McCanns for homicide and concealment of the corpse and in UK law under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 that means we can also investigate and prosecute them, even though the crime was committed abroad. This last happened in 2005.

Viv x

According to court documents issued by Portugal's supreme court, police applied to seize his phone records after learning of the alleged messages.

Investigators claim 18 text messages were sent to Mr McCann from an unidentified number around the time Madeleine vanished in Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.

It is alleged that 14 messages were texted on May 2 and four more on May 4.

But the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Gerry had no knowledge of the texts and received a handful of calls on his mobile in the days before his daughter disappeared.

The documents reveal that public prosecutor Magalhaes e Meneses also sought access to text and phone messages from 10 mobile telephones thought to belong to the McCanns and seven of their friends.

He also asked for a full list of all the calls made between the group from when they arrived in Portugal on April 28 and when the McCanns left on September 9.

But the supreme court issued a detailed ruling rejecting the application.

It also revealed that Kate and Gerry McCann could face charges of neglecting their daughter on the night she disappeared.

The police inquiry also covers possible abduction, homicide and concealment of a corpse, the documents say.

But Mr Mitchell emphasised the court papers did not mean such a charge would materialise.

He said the couple vigorously denied neglecting Madeleine and welcomed the fact that abduction was also being considered by detectives.

He said: "This court document outlines the areas of the investigation and in no way suggests Kate and Gerry will be facing any such charges.

"Equally we have heard nothing officially to suggest any such area of investigation is being considered.

"However, we do note that abduction is apparently one of the parameters and we welcome that because that is what Kate and Gerry and their friends have said and that is what happened.

"If there is any suggestion of neglect charges being considered that will be vigorously denied because the legal advice that Kate and Gerry have received both in Portugal and Britain is that legally speaking everything they were doing that week was well within the bounds of responsible parenting."

A neglect charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. But it is understood for such a charge to stand up the prosecutors would have to show the McCanns intended to neglect Madeleine

docmac said...

I have no problems with it at all. Considering what the true intent of the legislation is, why should a law-abiding citizen be concerned that the authorities have the ability to discover that they called their bookie from the local? And why would anyone be paranoid enough to worry that anyone would actually order the retrieval of this information?

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

ICantThinkOfAName said...

I just don't trust Governments, Present or Future.

LittleGreyCell said...


I am completely and utterly against this!

I have nothing (illegal) to hide, Docmac, but the idea that there would be legislation enabling government agencies to listen at will into my private conversations, or look at my private emails, is totally abhorrent to me. Why should they be allowed a secret window into my private life because of the likes of the McCanns?

How would this information stop them from shooting dead completely innocent people on London tube trains?

Apart from anything else, as we see virtually every week in the UK, one institution or another REGULARLY loses giant databases (often which have not been encrypted) containing extremely sensitive personal information. One of the latest examples is the disc containing the bank account details of ALL UK citizens who currently receive Child Benefit going astray a few months ago. This means that unscrupulous beings might now, as I write this, be hacking into my bank account at will!

Who is to say that any other information gathered by the government cannot fall into wrong hands?

The medical profession recently 'lost' the professional and personal details of every doctor applying for a job.

Or, read this about the proposed DNA database for every UK citizen:


"Following the loss last week of the personal and bank details of 25million Britons, there is now concern about the security of genetic information held by the authorities. Ministers have been accused of creating an "Orwellian database" that is open to sinister forms of abuse".

But the real problem I have is the one of the fundamental right to personal privacy in what is supposed to be a liberal democracy. I am sure there are agencies very interested in who I vote for, what my medical details are, whether I'm having an affair with my someone famous...all of these things should be private unless I choose to reveal them to people. They are none of the government's business.

Currently, this New Labour administration has legislated for an excess of 600 agencies (including local councils) to be able to legitimately place 'bugs' into houses if they suspect people of fly-tipping and such-like. This legislation was originally designed as an anti-terrorist measure, not to spy on people who MIGHT be breaking LOCAL BYLAWS.

A few weeks ago there was a story in the papers about a woman who, along with her children, was physically tailed, with a car following her day and night and sitting outside her house noting down what time she switched the lights on and off.


At the moment there has to be official approval for each individual request for the monitoring of telephone calls and emails. If the law was better developed in this way the courts would have approved such monitoring in the McCanns case and the police would have had access to the information they wanted about those 14 text messages.

I wholeheartedly believe THIS is the way to go: improve the law - still subject to individual case approval, mind - relating to suspects of MAJOR crime, rather than intrude on the privacy of every UK citizen - in excess of 60 million people - to monitor those whom officials only SUSPECT of being complicit in something illegal in the first place.

Sorry for the rant - it's something very close to my heart!


LittleGreyCell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LittleGreyCell said...

Above post removed because it popped up on the wrong thread.

Still, after all this time, I don't understand how it works!!!