Op-Ed: Under the premise of protecting its citizens from the threat of terrorism and criminal activity the UK government looks set to extend its Big Brother stance. It seems it loves to applaud the freedoms of people in the Middle East and further afield but does not like it closer to home. The UK government and authorities utilised the full "freedom" of the Internet to help rebels mount revolutions but now want to make sure they know every piece of Internet activity its citizens undertake in the UK.
Whilst their premise that the Internet needs monitoring to prevent terrorism and criminal activity may sound both plausible and sensible most people in the UK will see the new proposals as a step way too far.
Labour considered an expansion of current UK legislation in 2006 but in the end abandoned it. Such an expansion will not be popular and will simply push terrorists and criminals underground. It will however hit ordinary UK citizens. Big Brother will indeed be watching your every move online.
As this blogger has said in the past the current UK Coalition government does no have a clear mandate to govern the UK. It is a hastily cobbled together coalition necessary when neither party could secure an overall majority win at the polls. As such the UK government has overstepped its mark time and time again. It has been a government of change. Change that has not been necessary, wanted nor constructive. On the whole it has been the Conservative part of the Coalition flexing its muscles. That said then perhaps the plans to expand Internet spying are to be expected.
Today, April 1, 2012, The Independent has reported that: "Ministers are preparing a major expansion of the Government's powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK, it was reported today. Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ - the Government's electronic “listening” agency - to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in “real time”, The Sunday Times reported."
The Independent continues: "Although GCHQ would not be able to access the content of such communications without a warrant, the legislation would enable it to trace people individuals or groups are in contact with, and how often and for how long they are in communication. The Home Office confirmed that ministers were intending to legislate “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. “It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes,” a spokesman said. “Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.”
As Nick Pickles from Big Brother watch said,“This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran.“This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses. “If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?”
OPINION: As this blogger said at the start of this report it seems HYPOCRISY remains the watchword. We berate China and Iran for lack of freedoms then come up with this. We applaud the Arab Spring as long as it is not in our back yard. We, the government, try to restrict our people, under false pretences.
This farcical UK government has just spent a week proving that they are not fit to govern. If we allow the fools to pass this crock of you know what we deserve what we get.
It will not.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog