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 Post subject: Open Democracy: Does the government need new internet ...
PostPosted: Wed, 27 Jun 2012 10:16:36 +0000 
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Does the government need new internet surveillance powers?
Gilbert Ramsay , 21 June 2012

The UK faces a range of cyber threats to its security – including terrorist cells, child pornography and cyber-crime. Are they enough to justify extending the government’s powers of online surveillance?

Surveillance of citizens by governments is generally a bad thing. All things being equal, the more of it the worse. So regardless of the specific details of the legislation the government is going to propose in relation to the real time monitoring of Internet and mobile phone traffic data, it is something we should have a negative presumption about. In advance of knowing exactly what is being proposed, I don’t intend to jump on any bandwagons about an Orwellian extension of state power. There will be plenty of opportunity to do that, and to do that with greater authority and seriousness when the time comes. Instead, let’s consider the other side of this particular utilitarian balance sheet. Does giving the government new Internet surveillance powers (whatever they are, exactly) actually offer any benefits for society?

Whenever a new piece of cyber-surveillance is proposed, the same three issues are always brought up: terrorism, child pornography and cyber-crime. And sure enough, it is these three issues that supposedly justify the renewed intrusion this time around.

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