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2009: April-June

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27th June   

Indian Identity...

India looks to ID cards for its 1.1 billion people
Link Here

India is to embark on a plan to provide each of its 1.1 billion-plus citizens with a national identity card. It will be the largest citizens' database in a democracy. Only China has a larger scheme.

The government claims that the scheme, to be finalised over three years, will help in the delivery of vital social services to the poorest in society who often lack, or are at least told they lack, sufficient identification papers. The government has long complained that most of the money set aside for the neediest is diverted as a result of corruption, and it believes the cards could help to tackle identity theft and fraud.

At a time of increased concern over the threat of militant violence, the government also hopes that the creation of the scheme will boost national security and help police and law and order officials. The creation of the ID or Unique Identification Number (UID) was a major plank of the manifesto of the ruling Congress Party during the recent election.


22nd June   

Personal Spies...

Canada eyes hijacking ISP customer personal data without warrant
Link Here

Canada is considering forcing ISPs to reveal subscriber data without a warrant.

Twenty-first century technology calls for 21st-century tools, Injustice Minister Rob Nicholson said in announcing two new bills.

The Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act and the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act would require ISPs to install intercept-capable equipment on networks and provide authorities with timely access to subscriber personal data.

The new law wouldn't provide authorities with additional intercept powers. Police would still require warrants for communication interception, the government said.

Specifically, the law would:

  • Allow authorities to get access to information on any Internet subscriber, including name, home address or email, all without a warrant.
  • Force ISPs to keep a copy of the data generated by people under investigation on their company hard drives to prevent suspects from deleting anything incriminating or of evidence.
  • Make all telecom companies invest in technology that allows for the interception of Internet communications.
  • Let authorities remotely activate tracking devices that may already be embedded in your cellphone or car without your knowledge.
  • Allow law enforcement to get data on where your communications over the web are coming from and who they're going to.
  • Make it against the law to arrange the sexual exploitation of a child with a second person over the web. 

The government said it would subsidize some of the ISPs' costs for the program.


10th June

 Offsite: Watching Over Our Shoulders?...

Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism
Fighting Nineteen Eighty-Four

See article from


2nd June

 Offsite: Who's Watching the Watchers?...

Link Here
Ex spy chief hits out at state surveillance without legislative oversight...

See article from


31st May   

Update: Drinks Police...

ICO seeks to prevent police from insisting on ID scans and CCTV in pubs
Link Here

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is demanding new government guidelines to stop police making unfair requests to pubs and clubs around the use of CCTV.

The ICO is to make the plea in response to the government’s plans for a mandatory code of practice for the industry.

The ICO fears police are using licensing conditions to make pubs install CCTV or identity scanners, which can provide information on their drinkers.

Under the new mandatory code of practice consultation, the government avoided plans to make CCTV a blanket condition for all pubs, but councils will be able to force outlets in trouble-spots to operate surveillance if it feels it is needed.

Deputy information commissioner David Smith said strict new rules to reign in police demands were still required and urged clarity in the code: The question is whether we are going too far and is this surveillance at a level that is unacceptable that doesn’t justify the benefits. Pubs and clubs should not become information gathering sources for police.

An ICO spokeswoman later said: There needs to an absolute reason why CCTV or ID scanners need to be in place. We understand that CCTV can serve an important purpose, but we don’t want licensees to feel they have to have CCTV to have a licence.


31st May   

Electronic Police States...

UK leads the so called free world
Link Here

An electronic police state is quiet, even unseen. All of its legal actions are supported by abundant evidence. It looks pristine. An electronic police state is characterized by this:

State use of electronic technologies to record, organize, search and distribute forensic evidence against its citizens.

In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email you send, every Internet site you surf, every post you make, every check you write, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and they are held in searchable databases, for a long, long time. Whoever holds this evidence can make you look very, very bad whenever they care enough to do so. You can be prosecuted whenever they feel like it – the evidence is already in their database.

Our rankings for the year of 2008 show China and North Korea occupying the top spots as the most complete Electronic Police States in the world, followed by Belarus and Russia. Next, however, we leave communist and recently-communist states, with the UK (England/Wales), the United States and Singapore following closely on their heels.

1. China
2. North Korea
3. Belarus
4. Russia
5. United Kingdom: England & Wales
6. United States of America
7. Singapore
8. Israel
9. France
13.United Kingdom: Scotland
15.South Korea
20.New Zealand


28th May   

Update: Kiss of Death...

CCTV is bad enough but with religious police watching too...
Link Here
Full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Saudi Arabia's religious police want to install surveillance cameras in shopping centres throughout the country in order to watch young people. We will place surveillance cameras in all shopping centres and public places to monitor the behaviour of young people, said General Abdel Aziz al-Hamin, chief of the committee for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice.

Our objective is to correct the mistakes made by some youths, in order to protect their moral integrity, said al-Hamin.


16th May

 Offsite: Control Freakery Fetish...

Link Here
Full story: CCTV for Pubs...Government dictating CCTV for pubs and off licences
Fetish club forces ID scanner climbdown

See article from


15th May   

Updated: Contact...

ContactPoint database opens to detail all children in England
Link Here

The ContactPointl database featuring the details of every child in England will be officially launched next week, despite lingering concerns over safety.

Contactpoint has also been described as almost certainly illegal by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, a civil liberties group, following privacy and security concerns.

From next week, 800 people in 17 council areas will be trained to use it. The trial covers local authorities in the North West, as well as officials working for two charities - Barnardo's and KIDS.

Earlier trials of the system have already uncovered a series of errors.

The Conservatives have already pledged to scrap the database.

Tim Loughton, the shadow children's minister, said: Despite serious and widespread concerns about the security, integrity and necessity of this database, ministers seem determined to bulldoze it through.'


8th May   

Updated: Manchester Muggins...

Manchester will be the first town where £60 ID cards are available to volunteers
Link Here
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards

Manchester will be the first city where people can voluntarily sign up for an ID card.

Anyone over 16 in the city who holds a UK passport will be able to apply for a card from the autumn at a cost of £60. People will be able to enrol in post offices and pharmacies.

The Manchester launch will mark the beginning of the main phase of the ID scheme which ministers say will culminate in cards being available nationwide by 2012.

No mention in the article about whether volunteers will become liable to nasty fines should they not inform the state about changes of address etc


7th May   

Updated: Everyone's a Terrorist...

Police abuse their stop and search powers
Link Here

Police Officers were last night accused of abusing their powers after it emerged just 1% of around 124,000 "suspects" targeted for stop and search in 2007/08 were arrested - and only a fraction of those were for terrorism related offences.

The Metropolitan Police saw a 266% increase in stop and searches There was also a sharp rise in the number of times the public had to justify their activities to police in so-called "stop and account" incidents.

Members of the public were stopped and questioned by officers more than 2.3 million times last year after a rise of 26%.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: People will be highly suspicious about the scale of stop and search under terror laws. This will only serve to reinforce the view that many anti-terror powers are being used for unrelated purposes.

Home Office figures showed a total of 124,687 people were stopped and search under anti-terror laws in 2007/8, up from 41,924 in 2006/7. But only 1,271 arrests were made as a result and just 73 of those were for terror offences.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: These statistics will only fuel the fear that anti-terror powers are being overused by the police and for reasons other than they were intended for.

Update: Piloting a partial stop to stop and search

7th May 2009. Based on article from

Police have bowed to mounting opposition and are to pilot partially reducing their use of controversial terrorism powers that allow them to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion, the Guardian has learned.

Stop and search is one of the most draconian powers employed by police in the war on terror and a constable's right to use it will be severely curtailed under plans unveiled today. In a document seen by the Guardian, senior officers admit that the hundreds of thousands of stops carried out under the power had damaged community relations and reversed fundamental principles of civil rights.

Critics say that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows stops without suspicion, has alienated British Muslims without producing little or no benefit.

Usually an officer requires reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing to stop someone, but officers have been able to use the power across London since the July 7 terrorist attacks.

Under the new plans, Scotland Yard will effectively remove an officers' power to stop people without reason, although they will keep the power for special circumstances when authorised by senior officers.

Police will in future usually use section 43 of the Terrorism Act, which says an officer needs reasonable suspicion that someone is involved in terrorist activity before they can be stopped.

The exceptions will be around important landmarks such as parliament, key government buildings and Buckingham Palace, which are thought to be of heightened interest to terrorists because of their iconic status. The power may also apply to large train stations and places people gather in large numbers.

The second instance where the power to stop and search without suspicion will be where intelligence suggests there is a specific threat or top officers decide that there is a need to use the power to prevent and deter terrorist activity, and this could also apply to state events such as Trooping the Colour and the State opening of parliament.

Four London boroughs will pilot the new practice. They are Southwark, Brent, Newham and Tower Hamlets. It is expected the change will apply across London by the summer. Other police forces across Britain are also expected to implement the changes.


4th May   

Updated: Expenses Allocated for Dubious Purposes...

UK Government snooping continues despite apparent climb down
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

The home secretary has vowed to scrap a ‘big brother’ database, but a bid to spy on us all continues.

Spy chiefs are pressing ahead with secret plans to monitor all internet use and telephone calls in Britain despite an announcement by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, of a ministerial climbdown over public surveillance.

GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, is developing classified technology to intercept and monitor all e-mails, website visits and social networking sessions in Britain. The agency will also be able to track telephone calls made over the internet, as well as all phone calls to land lines and mobiles.

The £1 billion snooping project — called Mastering the Internet (MTI) — will rely on thousands of “black box” probes being covertly inserted across online infrastructure.

The top-secret programme began to be implemented last year, but its existence has been inadvertently disclosed through a GCHQ job advertisement carried in the computer trade press.

Grabbing favourable headlines about the climbdown on a central database, Smith announced that up to £2 billion of public money would instead be spent helping private internet and telephone companies to retain information for up to 12 months in separate databases.

However, she failed to mention that substantial additional sums — amounting to more than £1 billion over three years — had already been allocated to GCHQ for its MTI programme.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said Smith’s announcement appeared to be a smokescreen. 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.

Update: GCHQ on Mastering the Internet

4th May 2009. See press release from

Presumably in response to the Sunday Times revelations above, GCHQ have issue a rare press release:

Just as our predecessors at Bletchley Park mastered the use of the first computers, today, partnering with industry, we need to master the use of internet technologies and skills that will enable us to keep one step ahead of the threats. This is what mastering the internet is about. GCHQ is not developing technology to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain, or to target everyone in the UK. Similarly, GCHQ has no ambitions, expectations or plans for a database or databases to store centrally all communications data in Britain.

Because we rely upon maintaining an advantage over those that would damage UK interests, it is usually the case that we will not disclose information about our operations and methods. People sometimes assume that secrecy comes at the price of accountability but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, GCHQ is subject to rigorous parliamentary and judicial oversight (the Intelligence and Security Committee of parliamentarians, and two senior members of the judiciary: the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner) and works entirely within a legal framework that complies with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The new technology that GCHQ is developing is designed to work under the existing legal framework. It is an evolution of current capability within current accountability and oversight arrangements The Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 underpin activities at GCHQ - both existing systems and those we are planning and building at the moment. The purposes for which interception may be permitted are set out explicitly in the legislation: national security, safeguarding our economic well being and the prevention and detection of serious crime. Interception for other purposes is not lawful and we do not do it. GCHQ does not target anyone indiscriminately - all our activities are proportionate to the threats against which we seek to guard and are subject to tests on those grounds by the Commissioners. The legislation also sets out the procedures for Ministers to authorise interception; GCHQ follows these meticulously. GCHQ only acts when it is necessary and proportionate to do so; GCHQ does not spy at will.

Update: ISPs Unimpressed

4th June 2009. See article from

Jacqui Smith's plan to have ISPs create an enormous federated database of all online communications is receiving a frosty reception from the industry, multiple sources have revealed.

Many in the industry are currently working on their written objections to the proposals, which are known in Whitehall as the Interception Modernisation Programme.

ISPs are worried that the Home Office does not understand the scale of the technical challenge involved in monitoring and storing data on every communication via the internet. They fear the spiralling costs associated with government IT projects and resent being forced to devote resources to the plans.


28th April   

Update: Monstrosity Unveiled...

Government unveil their ideas for a searchable databases of communications
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

Communications companies are being asked to record all internet contacts between people to modernise police surveillance tactics in the UK.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith stepped back from a single database - but wants companies to hold and organise the information for the security services.

Announcing a consultation on a new strategy for communications data and its use in law enforcement, Smith said there would be no single government-run database. But she also said that doing nothing in the face of a communications revolution was not an option.

The Home Office will instead ask communications companies - from internet service providers to mobile phone networks - to extend the range of information they currently hold on their subscribers and organise it so that it can be better used by the police, MI5 and other public bodies investigating crime and terrorism.

Presumably to add a networked SQL facility to enable the authorities to search across databases with such questions as give me a list of all mobile phone users in Heathrow last Thursday who regularly read jihadist websites.

Ministers say they estimate the project will cost £2bn to set up, which includes some compensation to the communications industry for the work it may be asked to do.

Advances in communications mean that there are ever more sophisticated ways to communicate and we need to ensure that we keep up with the technology being used by those who seek to do us harm.

It is essential that the police and other crime fighting agencies have the tools they need to do their job, However to be clear, there are absolutely no plans for a single central store.

What we are talking about is who is at one end [of a communication] and who is at the other - and how they are communicating,

Communication service providers (CSPs) will be asked to record internet contacts between people, but not the content, similar to the existing arrangements to log telephone contacts.

But, recognising that the internet has changed the way people talk, the CSPs will also be asked to record some third party data or information partly based overseas, such as visits to an online chatroom and social network sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Security services could then seek to examine this data along with information which links it to specific devices, such as a mobile phone, home computer or other device, as part of investigations into criminal suspects.

The plan expands a voluntary arrangement under which CSPs allow security services to access some data which they already hold.

The consultation document is entitled Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment


25th April   

Update: Monstrosity Unveiled...

Government prepare to unveil their ideas for a searchable database of communications
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

Every phone call, email or website visit will be monitored by the state in a searchable database under plans to be unveiled this week.

The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database.

The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners, and the country's data protection watchdog last night warned the proposals would be unacceptable .

A consultation document on the plans, known in Whitehall as the Interception Modernisation Programme, is likely to put great emphasis on propaganda about the threat facing Britain and warn the alternative to the powers would be a massive expansion of surveillance.

But that will fuel concerns among critics that the Government is using a climate of fear to expand the surveillance state.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, the country's data watchdog, told the Daily Telegraph: a Government database of the records of everyone's communications – if that is to be proposed – is not likely to be acceptable to the British public. Remember that records – who? when? where? – can be highly intrusive even if no content is collected.

It is understood Thomas is concerned that even details on who people contact or sites they visit could intrude on their privacy, such as data showing an individual visiting a website selling Viagra.

The proposed powers will allow police and security services to monitor communication "traffic", which is who calls, texts, emails who, when and where but not what is said. Similarly they will be able to see which websites someone visits, when and from where but not the content of those visits.

However, if the data sets alarm bells ringing, officials can request a ministerial warrant to intercept exactly what is being sent, including the content.


19th April   

Update: Town Hall Stasi...

Restricting council snooping powers to higher ranking officers
Link Here
Full story: Council Snooping...Concil snooping for trivial reasons

Town Hall Stasi are to be stripped of the power to spy on residents suspected of 'bin crimes' and dog fouling.

Rules unveiled by the Home Office will prevent councils from using the anti-terror Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for trivial offences.

Launching a consultation on the future of RIPA, ahead of a final set of rules due later this year, the Home Office raises the prospect of Town Halls being stripped of the right to use the Act.

However, they may be allowed to continue using it for restricted offences. The new rules are also likely to see the power to make a RIPA authorisation passed to executive officers only, rather than low-ranking bureaucrats.

The local government minister, John Healy is writing to councils to say their future use of the powers must be proportionate.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith spewed the usual propaganda about the draft rules: Our country has a proud tradition of individual freedom. This involves freedom from unjustified interference by the State. But it also includes freedom from interference by those who would do us harm. The government is responsible for protecting both types of freedom.

Despite the proposed crackdown, councils are likely to fight to keep many of their powers. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: Parliament clearly intended that councils should use powers under RIPA, and they are being used to respond to residents' complaints about serious criminals, like fly-tippers, rogue traders and people defrauding the benefits system.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'This consultation is a tacit admission by the Government that its surveillance society-has got out of hand. For too long, powers we were told would be used to fight terrorism and organised crime have been used to spy on people's kids, pets and bins: Without reform, RIPA will continue to be a snoopers' charter. Ministers must ensure that this consultation results in real changes and not just warm words.

Home Office Consultation: Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice

See consultation from
See also  consultation document [pdf]

Passed in 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (called RIPA), created a regulatory framework to govern the way public authorities handle and conduct covert investigations.

This consultation takes a look at all the public agencies, offices and councils that can use investigation techniques covered by RIPA, and asks the public to consider whether or not it's appropriate for those people to be allowed to use those techniques.

In light of recent concerns, the government is particularly interested in how local authorities use RIPA to conduct investigations into local issues. Among other things, in order to ensure that RIPA powers are only used when they absolutely need to be, the government proposes to raise the rank of those in local authorities who are allowed to authorise use of RIPA techniques.

To respond to the consultation, reply by email to

You can also reply by post to:

Tony Cooper
Home Office
Peel Building 5th Floor
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

This consultation closes 10 July 2009.


17th April   

Update: Better Inphormed...

EU challenges UK over Phorm whilst Amazon rejects the system
Link Here
Full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

Online retailer Amazon has confirmed that it is opting out of the controversial internet advertising service, Phorm.

The company has said that it will not allow Phorm to scan its web pages in order to serve customers with targeted adverts based on their browsing habits.

The Phorm technology, known as Webwise, has been at the centre of controversy in recent months. Last year, BT allowed a trial of Webwise to go ahead without the explicit consent of users. It has now started a new trial of the technology on an opt-in basis only.

Although Phorm has been cleared by the Information Commissioner’s Office of any concerns regarding data or privacy, the European Commission has announced that it is starting legal action against the UK government for the way its data protection laws operate in relation to Phorm.

The EU telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, said : I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation.

The Commission has branded the technology as an interception of user data, and believes there is a legal need for more explicit seeking of consent from users before such services can be rolled out.

And privacy lobby the Open Rights Group has also called on a number of websites, including Microsoft, Google and AOL to opt out of Phorm’s scheme. The group said it expected more companies to follow Amazon’s lead and opt out of the Phorm service.


15th April   

Update: Calling the Kettlers Black...

Police beating of woman G20 protestor posted on YouTube
Link Here

The unconvincing police watchdog is to investigate a fresh claim of alleged police brutality after new video footage emerged showing a woman being hit by an officer during the G20 protests.

The Metropolitan officer, who has his identification number covered up in the video, appears to slap the woman across the face before taking out his baton and hitting her on the legs. He was last night identified and suspended by the Met.

The new incident, which appeared on the website You Tube, is another blow for the Met which has already faced intense criticism over the beating and death of Ian Tomlinson.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has already received around 120 complaints about police actions during the G20 protests. The fact the officer is not showing his police ID number is reminiscent of the Tomlinson incident where the officer in question also failed to have his number on show.

Scotland Yard said the footage raised immediate concerns when it became aware of it on Tuesday afternoon and was referring the matter to the IPCC. A spokesman said: Every officer is accountable under law, and fully aware of the scrutiny that their actions can be held open to. The decision to use force is made by the individual police officer, and they must account for that.

It emerged earlier that CCTV footage of the moment Mr Tomlinson was hit and shoved to the ground by a police officer could exist after investigators admitted they were wrong to say there were no cameras in the area. Last week Nick Hardwick, chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating, said there was no CCTV footage because there were no cameras in the location where he was assaulted. But the IPCC yesterday issued a clarification that Hardwick's assertion may not be accurate and that there were indeed cameras covering the area. A spokeswoman insisted the investigators knew that from the start and have been examining hours of footage.


6th April   

Update: Watch Where You Browse...

UK ISPs retain website and email logs from today
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

Details of every email sent and website visited by people in Britain are to be stored for use by the state from today as part of what campaigners say is a massive assault on privacy.

A European Union directive, which Britain was instrumental in devising, comes into force which will require all internet service providers to retain information on email traffic, visits to web sites and telephone calls made over the internet, for 12 months.

Hundreds of public bodies and quangos, including local councils, will also be able to access the data to investigate flytipping and other less serious crimes.

It was previously thought that only the large companies would be required to take part, covering 95% of Britain's internet usage, but a Home Office spokesman has confirmed it will be applied across the board to even the smallest company.

Phil Noble of privacy group NO2ID, said: This is the kind of technology that the Stasi would have dreamed of. We are facing a co-ordinated strategy to track everyone's communications, creating a dossier on every person's relationships and transactions. It is clearly preparatory work for the as-yet un-revealed plans for intercept modernisation.

Another EU directive which requires companies to hold details of telephone records for a year has already come into force, and although internet data is held on an ad hoc basis this is the first time the industry has faced a statutory requirement to archive the material.


5th April   

Monitoring the Snoopers...

European Parliament suggests a database of internet snooping
Link Here

Governments should create a list of all organisations that track internet use and produce an annual report on internet surveillance, the European Parliament has said.

The Parliament also said that users' online activity should not be monitored in the fight against piracy.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted by a huge majority to adopt a policy statement on the freedoms citizens do and should have online. The statement calls on the European Commission and national governments to take action to protect free speech and halt the intrusion of criminals and industry into private communications.

[We] urge the Member States to identify all entities which use Net Surveillance and to draw up publicly accessible annual reports on Net Surveillance ensuring legality, proportionality and transparency, said the statement.

MEPs said that governments should be aware of the problems that might arise as people's internet traffic is increasingly monitored for commercial purposes: [Governments should] recognise the danger of certain forms of Internet surveillance and control aimed also at tracking every 'digital' step of an individual, with the aim of providing a profile of the user and of assigning 'scores .

They should make clear the fact that such techniques should always be assessed in terms of their necessity and their proportionality in the light of the objectives they aim to achieve; [and] emphasise also the need for an enhanced awareness and informed consent of users with respect to their e-activities involving the sharing of personal data.

The Parliament said that when it comes to ensuring that intellectual property rights are respected, Governments should make sure that the interests of business do not trump the rights of individuals.


1st April   

Spy in the Car...

Tracking devices to be mandated for private motorists
Link Here

  Good morning motorist 6374734834/3535
Ignition request denied.
Destination ExCeL is a prohibited zone,
Driving privileges suspended for 6 months!

The government is backing a project to install a communication box in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the Guardian can reveal.

Under the proposals, vehicles will emit a constant signal revealing their location, speed and direction of travel.

The EU officials behind the plan claim it will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions.

A consortium of manufacturers has indicated that the device could be installed in all new cars as early as 2013.

However, privacy campaigners warned last night that a European-wide car tracking system would create a system of almost total road surveillance.

Details of the Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project, a £36m EU initiative backed by car manufacturers and the telecoms industry, will be unveiled this year.

But the Guardian has been given unpublished documents detailing the proposed uses for the system. They confirm that it could have profound implications for privacy, enabling cars to be tracked to within a metre - more accurate than current satellite navigation technologies.

The European commission has asked governments to reserve radio frequency on the 5.9 Gigahertz band, essentially setting aside a universal frequency on which CVIS technology will work.

The Department for Transport claimed there were no current plans to make installation of the technology mandatory. However, those involved in the project describe the UK as one of the main state backers .

The European Data Protection Supervisor will make a formal announcement on the privacy implications of CVIS technology soon. But in a recent speech he said the technology would have great impact on rights to privacy and data.

The system allows cars to talk to one another and the road. A communication box behind the dashboard ensures that cars send out messages every 500 milliseconds through mobile cellular and wireless local area networks, short-range microwave or infrared.

The messages will be picked up by other cars in the vicinity, allowing vehicles to warn each other if they are forced to break hard or swerve to avoid a hazard.

The data is also picked up by detectors at the roadside and mobile phone towers. That enables the road to communicate with cars, allowing for intelligent traffic lights to turn green when cars are approaching or gantries on the motorway to announce changes to speed limits. Data will also be sent to control centres that manage traffic, enabling a vastly improved system to monitor and even direct vehicles.

A traffic controller will know where all vehicles are and even where they are headed, said CVIS manager Paul Kompfner: That would result in a significant reduction in congestion and replace the need for cameras.

Although the plan is to initially introduce the technology on a voluntary basis, Kompfner conceded that for the system to work it would need widespread uptake. He envisages governments making the technology mandatory for supposed safety reasons. Any system that tracks cars could also be used for speed enforcement or national road tolling.

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