The Cost of Government Online Snooping

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: June 15, 2012 at 4:31 am

cyber snoopingIt's hard to overlook the suggestion that the British government is engaging in a widespread clampdown on the web by stealth. 

Last year there were suggestions by politicians that the state should have the ability to 'turn off' social media during riots and other periods of unrest, this was despite proof that social media did not contribute to the troubles.

That was followed by a court order demanding that ISPs block access to file sharing website Pirate Bay, and rumors abound that the government would like to block access to adult sites as standard, with users having to 'opt-in' (and then presumably be added to some kind of deviants watch-list).

You would perhaps expect such attacks on our liberty from a country such as Iran, but Britain?

The Guardian reveals today that government plans to snoop on our email, Facebook, Twitter and other web usage will come with a whopping price tag of nearly £2 billion, with this figure reported as conservative.

The plans will require both phone and Internet companies to collect and store 12 months worth of web and mobile phone data so that police and intelligence services can access it.

Security services may want access to things such as email addresses, phone numbers and communication history.  It will remain the case that they will not be allowed to access the content of emails, texts, mobile calls and other confidential web use without a warrant signed by the home secretary.

Over half a million requests for information are made every year by security officials, and Theresa May regards this as vital in fighting terrorism.

She told the Sun: "I just don't understand why some people might criticize these proposals. I have no doubt conspiracy theorists will come up with some ridiculous claims about how these measures are an infringement of freedom. But without changing the law, the only freedom we would protect is that of criminals, terrorists and pedophiles."

Of course to be truly Orwellian they would need to be able to track our thoughts as well, although you can't help but suspect that they'd be only too happy providing the technology existed.


About this article

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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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