Yeah, we’re fucked. Our civil liberties, if ever we had any, are on the verge of being stripped right from underneath our noses. The Home Office is hell bent on pushing a piece of legislation through that will allow 653 governmental offices to have access to every phone call, text message, email, and website we visit. Agencies like the police, local councils, the Financial Service Authority, the ambulance service, fire authorities and even prison governors.
What’s really insidious about this gig is that these folks will not require the permission of a judge or magistrate to get our information. All they’ll need is permission from a senior police officer or the equivalent of a deputy head at a local authority.
The “government” says it needs this kind of easy access to help fight terrorism. Please! That old chestnut!
They, and I’m using ‘they’ deliberately because there doesn’t seem to be any names associated with the ‘they’ in government who are pushing so hard to strip our liberties away.
The Home Office did a six month consultation to find out if they had any support for this idea. Only a third of the respondents approved. 50 percent of the folks believed that the scheme lacked sufficient protection against the abuse of our personal data that these yahoos would have access to.
This new level of access would fall under the foul Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) or as I call it, the Rest in Peace all of our privacy Act. Communications companies will be forced to keep all of our emails, phone calls, and every web click for a year. And guess who has to pay for all of this? Yes that’s right – Us, to the tune of £2 billion over 10 years.
There are a couple of sane people in government who are opposing this move vocally. Chris Grayling has been quoted as saying “The big danger in all of this is ‘mission creep’. This government keeps on introducing new powers to tackle terrorism and organised crime which end up being used for completely different purposes. We have to stop that from happening.”
To give you an idea of what it would be like to have your information out there in the open, I pilfered someone’s mobile and this is what I found:
Bob: so what have you been up to today?
Sue: well….sending you emails…reading some Keats letters!! No idea how I ended up there…but i did…an unplanned interruption…reading some book about how to teach your dog new tricks…called management and organisational behaviour!!
Bob: keats as in john keats? one of my favorite poets
Sue: it seems if you give your dog – errrr – workforce treats they perform better
Bob: will you be able to teach me some new tricks?
Sue: what do you want to learn?!!
Bob: hmmmm… dangerous question
Sue: mmmm, yes.
Ok there is no Bob and Sue, but you get the point. Our private conversations are at their mercy, whoever they are. You would hope that they would use our private information responsibly, but what guarantees do we have? Who will be watching the watchmen?