Governments around the world have been tightening the noose around the privacy rights of their citizens on the pretext of security. Now, the government in UK has lead the charge by proposing to monitor all forms of electronic communication without any warrants. This has naturally met with a lot of criticism and opposition.
The legislation actually allows Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to monitor all forms of electronic communications within U.K. While the government is trying to sugar-coat this bitter pill by saying that all this monitoring will yield is logs of calls and such data and not their content, it is really hard to believe. Besides, one step on that side of citizens’ privacy rights and the government can then go a long way without being stopped.
The argument from the government in its favor is what we used widely today to shut up any debate: ‘It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.’
The spectre of security and crime has always been used to implement such measures and same goes for now. ”Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications’, the official spokesperson further elaborates.
Privacy activists are naturally agitated and are fiercely opposing it. According to Open Rights Group, ‘Of course the security services should be able to get a warrant to monitor genuine suspects. But blanket collection, without suspicion, or powers to compel companies to hand over data on the say-so of a police officer would be very wrong. The saga of complicity between senior police officers and Murdoch’s journalists should tell us how vulnerable people’s privacy can be. The government should stand by the commitments both parties made before the election to protect our privacy.’