Real-time Online Snooping, Soon To Be Legal.

Posted on April 3rd 2012

Real-time Online Snooping, Soon To Be Legal.

If you're in the UK, when, where and who you tweeted, Facebooked, messaged, rang, checked in, photographed, skyped, may soon be stored and analysed in real-time by a body that most people don't trust - The Government.

A new law being proposed, the details of which are said to be released in the Queen's Speech in May, sees an extension to an already questionable surveillance state.

Surveillance without accountability, at no part of the process will a magistrate need to be involved or a warrant obtained before GCHQ (UK Government Communications Headquarters) can track times, dates, numbers and addresses of all your communications.

surveillance The extent of the surveillance has been limited so that:

"Although it is not clear what exactly is being proposed, Downing Street insisted it would not include the content of communications." ~ BBC News Online

However I would argue that by storing the web addresses that people visit, that is content and that isbeing stored. It could very easily be used to build an entire behavioural profile, and breach every privacy.

What's New?

Most people don't realise that currently Internet Service Providers, under 2009 EU Legislation, have had to keep details of users' internet access, email and internet phone calls for 12 months.  So how is it any different, why the backlash? The new legislation, in the name of protecting our freedoms and ensuring our safety, will allow GCHQ to access all the data in real-time and on demand rather than pulling it up retrospectively. As always it's a dangerous balancing act between security and freedom where both seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. The more 'safe' we try to be - by listening in on every communication - the less free we are to speak privately.

privacy

The trust in government is falling from an already low 43% in 2011 to 38% in 2012 which is only going to aggravate the situation. That's roughly 6 in every 10 people having all of their communications watched and analysed by a body they do not trust. Everything from the browsing of Facebook, Twitter, Google +, to their bank accounts, location, phone calls and Skype.

When such a small percentage of this communication traffic (if any) is going to be actual "terrorist" communication, the focus in fact becomes everybody else.

Even if there is no dubious intent at this time, the Government does not have a reputation for cyber security or independence from Private interests.This information is incredibly valuable and will be seen by many bodies and organisations as irresistible and this is a serious need for concern.

In Closing

Whenever something comes up about surveillance vs privacy, I'm always reminded of this short dialogue:

If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide!

Then why have curtains?


 

  ~ Sources

BBC News Online - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17580906
Trust in UK Bodies - http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jan/24/trust-in-government-...
EU directive from 2009 - http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:105:0054...
Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanmcintosh
http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/

MarketMeSuite Matt

Matthew Harris

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Comments

Interesting thoughts, Matthew. I differ with you in one point--I don't think security and freedom are at opposite ends of a spectrum, I think they are partners. We all differ on the tactics of security, I guess. There is no real freedom without protection/security. Keep on writing!

Thanks cksyme, 

Perhaps I didn't do that point justice in the article, I also believe that security and freedom can come together and are not always at opposites. It's just all too often I think we find that they seem at opposites. In the pursuit of one - the other is often neglected.

Thanks for your comment, I appreciate the feedback, and what I haven't been able to fit in the article will hopefully be discussed outside of it.

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