Thursday

New UK Surveillance Laws

It's that time again, when the UK Government start trying to increase the level of surveillance in this country.  It doesn't seem to matter which party is in power, whatever promises were given, the UK Government has an overwhelming desire to spy on it's citizens.

The latest bill being presented by the Home secretary is here - Draft Communications Bill but of course it's not a riveting read.  It basically requires that all internet, email, phone communication is stored for a period of a year and gives powers to certain agencies to access that data when required.

So details of every web site you visit, every SMS you send, every Facebook update or forum post you make is recorded for 12 months in case a Government agency decides they need to see it.  There has been some slight watering down from the crazy Labour complete database proposal  Intercept Modernisation Programme - for instance now the local councils won't have access to this data by default.


But don't worry they have explained that  the data will be very secure and only accessed in very few situations.   Here's a list of situations when your Internet logs might be examined -


(a) in the interests of national security,
(b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing
disorder,
(c) for the purpose of preventing or detecting any conduct in respect of
which a penalty may be imposed under section 123 or 129 of the
Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (civil penalties for market
abuse),
(d) in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom,
(e) in the interests of public safety,
(f) for the purpose of protecting public health,
(g) for the purpose of assessing or collecting any tax, duty, levy or other
imposition, contribution or charge payable to a government
department,
(h) for the purpose, in an emergency, of preventing death or injury or any
damage to a person’s physical or mental health, or of mitigating any
injury or damage to a person’s physical or mental health,
(i) to assist investigations into alleged miscarriages of justice, or
(j) where a person (“P”) has died or is unable to identify themselves
because of a physical or mental condition—
(i) to assist in identifying P, or
(ii) to obtain information about P’s next of kin or other persons
connected with P or about the reason for P’s death or condition


Let's face it, anyone with any imagination could probably find justification under one of those headings for pretty much anything without too much trouble.

Of course no other democratic nation feels the need to extend this level of monitoring over all it's citizens.  Maybe that is because of the huge, total and complete flaw in this proposed surveillance

It's simple to bypass surveillance which means the bad guys can opt out !!

People who want to keep their privacy can avoid pretty much all of it by using encrypted connections, secure proxy servers, VPNs, security programs like Identity Cloaker or even just surfing the internet through someone else's Wifi connection. The real criminals and terrorists will do all this and more - they'll swap files and information through the Darknet, they hide their tracks using TOR and other non-internet based communication medium.

The result will be that the vast majority of terrorists and criminals won't be under surveillance just the huge majority of law abiding citizens who have nothing to hide.  It's effectively introducing a Big Brother state, destroying everyone's privacy - spying on the population because they might just catch a few extra stupid terrorists.

Remember even before these proposals the police and security agencies can already get access to your emails, tap your phone and eavesdrop on your telephone conversations.  We are already resembling the sort of surveillance states like Iran, Syria and China were personal freedoms take second place to State control.

We all know that slowly the line will be blurred about what sort of use this data will be used for.  We all know that someone somewhere will lose this data or leave it on a bus or a Soho nightclub.  We also know that the IT project to make it happen will cost a fortune, go hugely over budget and probably not work properly for years to come.


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