First we have a European Data Directive - this has been passed and is now being implemented by member nations, here's it's full title -
Directive on Mandatory Retention of Communications Traffic Data
Basically what this directive does is to force all ISPs to hold and store all our data including emails, which web sites we visit, instant messaging, pretty much everything we do on line and they MUST keep it for two years.
An Electronic Log of everything you do online for two years.
That's pretty much it and the reason they are doing this ? Well it's the usual one - terrorists and criminals, if Governments spy on their entire population then they're bound to catch up with a few of the thick ones.
But it gets worse, well in the UK anyway (don't laugh in the US the same is happening there!)
Intercept Modernisation Programme - UK Government
Of course from the governments point of view they love having all our records stored in big logs which they can access. Unfortunately there is a little bit of protection in that they need some approval before accessing your data. They need a warrant based on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), not that it's very hard to get one - they've already been granted to allow to spy on a family to check if they were in a school catchment area and thousands of other trivial tasks.
But mass surveillance would be way more effective if it was just stored centrally on some huge central database - that way Home office staff could just view the electronic footprint of anyone they wanted by clicking a button. How handy to have a list of porn sites that a political opponent has visited in the last two years.
But of course there's a few areas we need to close up - things like twitter and facebook need monitoring obviously as terrorists would obviously use these to plan
I read this little funny quip from the Guardian web site regarding this (EmmaLB)
Looking at the Facebook news feed, you can see they have a point:
"OsamaRokz only has four more hours on this dialysis machine!
"AbuHZ sent OsamaRokz a poppy plantation using the growing gifts application
"OsamaRokz thinks the wifi reception in this cave sucks
"OsamaRokz posted a video: 'Death to the Great Satan, part 735'"
I'm afraid it's closer to the truth perceived by some of these experts than we realise. Here's a quote from a Home Office Spokesman
"We have no way of knowing whether Osama bin Laden is chatting to Abu Hamza on Facebook. Or terrorists could be having a four-way chat on Skype," he said.
SO this is why we will all be monitored 24/7 electronically just in case Osama makes that mistake of filling in his profile a little too accurately on facebook or accidentally twittering his coordinates.
Of course the added insult that these huge information surveillance systems being prepared to spy on you and me - will of course be funded by us. They will of course cost billions and will obviously overrun and be hit by 'technical problems' which will be fixed by even more tax payers money.
Still I should always try and see the bright side, I work in the IT industry and it really is great having all these Government spying projects around - they keep lots of us in work and pay very well. Obviously I'd prefer to keep my freedom instead but that doesn't seem to be an option in Europe at the moment.