Sunday, 22 July 2012

Does Privacy Matter Any More?

I've been working my tail off to get some opposition going to the Government's latest attempt to erode our freedom, the Communications Data bill. Meanwhile, I've learned that this is going global and I've heard nothing back yet from the Home Office, which I have sent an FOI to find out whether G4S will be involved. All this is bad enough, but I find that the biggest problem I'm having with this is getting people to give a damn about digital rights. How can I get them on board?


Global Big Brother


I'm not joking or exaggerating, this is a global phenomenon, driven by the big multinational corporations. These are the countries that are under surveillance:



  • Australia

  • Egypt

  • Eritrea

  • France

  • India

  • Kazakhstan

  • Malaysia

  • New Zealand

  • Russia

  • South Korea

  • Sri Lanka

  • Thailand

  • Tunisia

  • Turkey

  • United Arab Emirates


The rest of Europe and the Americas have legislation in the works and if we don't fight this off, we'll have Big Brother watching everything we do online like those poor saps in the list above.


What's behind it?


On the face of it, this is all to protect us from the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse, pictured left. What is actually happening is that security contractors are lobbying for more power and profit. The things they're trying to get — and they've got the security services on board for this — are astonishing.



  • All our mobile phone conversations

  • GPS tracking via our mobiles

  • All our emails

  • All our social media conversations

  • All details of where we go and what we do online

  • All our snail mail


I'm not kidding, that's what's in the Communications Data bill and there are variations of this in Canada and the USA. The countries in the list above already have this crap going on.


Our public bodies want access to our information


And if that's not bad enough, our local authorities now want access to the above list of information. In an article in the Independent, it has emerged that public bodies such as the UK Border Agency — much of which is run by G4S, and local authorities — who have been told by Theresa May they need to make "a business case", want access to our internet data and information about phone calls we've made. It's a private information feast and they want an invitation.


Hang on a bit, did anyone notice the words "business case?" What's that about? I'll have to put an FOI in to find out why a business case needs to be made to get hold of information to catch the internet bogeymen they're supposed to be protecting us from.


The only thing that's keeping this at bay is the ACTA defeat in the EU and their knowledge that the nerds are going to fight the Hell out of this. The EU has a load of consultations on at the moment and I've already requested one on net neutrality. I'm hoping the Communications Data bill will be rejected in Parliament, but if it's not, our last, best hope is the EU Parliament, which has actually been very good about this kind of thing because, let's be honest, they cave in to pressure from the internet.


So why are the public not all up in arms over this?


No snoopingThey ought to be absolutely hopping mad but they're not even aware of it. Don't they read the papers? Is it not coming up in the televised news? Aren't they being told about it by their friends? Most people I've conversed with who don't spend as much time on the internet as I do don't seem to be aware of it and don't seem to see it as their problem. Apparently, it's more of an internet problem. We really need to get the word out, but what can we say?


Well I suppose I could go leafleting again, like I did in June for ACTA, but meanwhile, if everyone could just share this post around and ask people to write to their MPs (use http://www.writetothem.com) to ask them not to vote for the Communications Data bill in September, that would be a start. I can't see this situation getting any better unless people start kicking off about it.

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