Privacy. A Thing of the Past?Posted: April 1, 2012
Planned government legislation will see GCHQ given the powers to monitor individuals’ online usage. To do this ISPs would be instructed to install hardware from GCHQ that would allow the government, in real-time, to monitor everyone’s online communications. While a warrant would be needed to access the actual content of such communications (messages, emails, phone calls, etc.), individuals and groups a user interacts with would be easily traceable. Information like phone numbers dialled, time and call duration, and email addresses would be visible, according to a spokesman for the Home Office. The proposed law has shocked human rights activists who fear the amount of power to spy on ordinary people it will give the government.
The director of Liberty UK, Shami Chakrabarti, said that the new legislation would be “more ambitious than anything that has been done before. It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy.” Tory MP, David Davis, also criticised the move, branding the proposed law “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state”.
Human rights activists… fear the amount of power to spy on ordinary people it will give the government.
The previous government tried to enact a similar law but was defeated by heavy opposition which included many Conservative MPs. So what’s changed? Why in this day and age is this Cold War-type law being considered?
The same spokesman for the Home Office commented on how the law would help the fight against terrorism, giving the Police the intelligence they need. However, Mr Davis pointed out that the new powers would see GCHQ monitoring ordinary people, not just terrorists and criminals.
This law would not be the first in recent months to give the government more power over ISPs. BT and Talk Talk recently lost their appeal over the soon to be introduced legislation that will force them to monitor and notify users engaging in online piracy. Where the line will be drawn between government power and personal privacy is as yet uncertain.
Information and Quotation Sources: BBC, The Independent Online.