There was a furore earlier in the year when it was revealed that the UK coalition government was planning to extend Internet snooping. Under the arguments that "times change, it will help catch child pornographers and it will assist the fight against terrorists" the government expected UK citizens to just blindly accept the proposed reforms.
In the end various online petitions began and many people aired their displeasure. It is generally believed that all these changes would do is hit ordinary, law abiding citizens as the "rogues" would easily find a way around new legislation.
UK PM David Cameron announced the proposals in the Queen's Speech in May 2012. That is he secured the Queen to do his dirty work for him.
The outcry continued in varying degrees and in some ways the legislation was watered down. However it is still to go ahead. Today, June 14, 2012, UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced the proposed changes. She laid the case for them by saying they were long overdue and stressing the limits which will be applied.
Well she did not persuade us.
The changes will not be an end solution but rather the start of reform. Slowly but surely our freedoms are being whittled away. This is being done by the very officials who want countries in the Middle East and Russia to allow more freedoms.
As the Leveson Inquiry is already showing illegal phone hacking and corruption has been rife in the UK media and some police forces for years. So how can we believe that new Internet powers will be rigorously monitored and restrictions enforced? The short answer is we cannot.
Whilst traditional policing methods may need changes to encompass modern technology we should not surrender our freedoms lightly. Once gone they will be difficult to recapture. Currently it is expected that communications service providers, will have to invest in "black boxes" to store the necessary data for the required one year period of storage time. However it is also expected that the UK taxpayer will foot the bill for these boxes. A bill which could be in excess of £200million each year.
SkyNews reported that, "No warrant would be required for these surveillance operations, which would need to be authorised by a "senior officer", Whitehall sources said."There would have to be a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to trigger this sort of data collection," an official said.
"And there will be no collection of data in real time," the official added. Local authorities will be excluded from collecting data. A warrant, issued by the Home Secretary, would be needed to access the content of communications." Reassured? Probably not.
One major concern is "Who will be overseeing snooping?" It is claimed that it cannot be the judiciary through a shortage of magistrates.Well knowing this Tory led Coalition it will be a private company overseeing matters. One that is run by a Tory funder?
In spite of all the austerity measures and welfare cuts once again when it suits this government there is tons of money to waste.Whilst those in favour of the reform claim that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, we all know that is not true. Civil liberty groups and many MPs from all sides of the House of Commons are gravely concerned and we should be also.
An interesting point to note is that we in the UK are already the most snooped on nation, almost in the World. With some town and city centres flooded with CCTV cameras it can feel as if your every move is being observed. Allow the government to keep pushing through the sort of reforms reported here and that will surely be the case.
Sign our petition to Stop the expansion of UK government's Internet snooping powers
Related reading on our sister site:http://www.tekjournalismuk.com/1/post/2012/04/uk-gvernments-internet-spying-plans-so-much-for-freedoms.html
Based in Yorkshire, in the middle of the UK, almost, this blogger offers her own unique perspective on life in GB
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