http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolic ... cy-wright/ The government’s proposal for data communications surveillance will be invasive and costly with minimal effectiveness
Posted on May 8, 2012 by Blog Admin...
One of the most worrying objections lies not in the proposals themselves, but instead in the lack of transparency that surrounds them. Despite the sweeping nature of the changes that have been implied, extremely little detailed information regarding the implementation of the policy has been revealed to the public. This has forced civil liberties campaigners, such as those who attended the recent LSE-hosted ‘Scrambling for Safety’ event, to extrapolate from the stated aims of the new proposals, from details of previous and existing schemes, and from known technologies. This has led, inevitably, to accusations from proponents of the CCDP that any criticisms are unfounded scaremongering.
When we examine what has been said about the newly-revived proposals, the most notable aspect of the rhetoric, as with earlier proposals under Labour, is the assertion that they are nothing new. Instead, we are repeatedly told, these programmes are merely a means by which law enforcement and intelligence services can ‘maintain’ or ‘preserve’ existing capabilities required for fighting terrorism. If our phone records are already subject to monitoring, what possible objection could there be to extending this to details of emails, web pages, social media, and Skype?
This argument relies on a fundamental misconception. Despite any superficial similarities between old and new communication technologies, it is both disingenuous and dangerously simplistic to consider access to phone records as a useful analogy for making policy about combined access to email, web, social media and other internet traffic. The extent to which we use these new services is vastly greater, the information that they reveal about our habits and interactions greater still. This is further amplified by the ease with which these separate records can be correlated and cross-referenced. A closer analogy than logging telephone calls is the noting of every conversation we have, every book or newspaper article that we read, every shop that we visit and what we buy, as well as a host of other interactions that together make up a frighteningly detailed picture of our life and habits.
Dr Joss Wright obtained his PhD in Computer Science from the University of York in 2008, where his work focused on the design and analysis of anonymous communication systems. Dr. Wright has provided advice to the European Commission, as well as a number of EU research projects, on the social, legal and ethical impacts of security technologies, and has also written articles on privacy, social media and online activism for the Guardian and Observer, amongst others