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Summary:

Plans by the British government to give intelligence agencies access to details of every phone call, email, text and website visit made in the country have drawn plenty of anger from across the spectrum. Here’s what people are saying about the controversy.

Over the weekend details emerged about the British government’s plans to introduce new laws that would allow intelligence agents to legally intercept and monitor all sorts of digital communications, including details of the phone calls, emails, texts and website visits of every single person in the U.K.

The news may have hit on April 1, but it’s no joke. Under the proposals — which have yet to be formally published — the British intelligence agency GCHQ, the local equivalent of the NSA, would be able to access data about these communications as they wished.

It’s unsurprisingly caused a great deal of concern and outrage — particularly since the parties who currently make up the U.K’s coalition government fiercely opposed a similar bill that was put forward a few years ago when they were in opposition.

Here’s what the web is saying about the proposals.

The Sunday Times led the pack with its report suggesting that the legislative proposals could be get put forward next month, and pointing out that ISPs had been given some details last month:

A senior industry official said: “It’s mass surveillance. The idea is that the network operator should effectively intercept the communications between, say, Google and some third party. The network operators are going to be asked to put probes in the network and they are upset about the idea . . .

It’s expensive, it’s intrusive to your own customers, it’s very difficult to see it’s going to work properly and it’s going to be a nightmare to run legally.”

Meanwhile the Daily Mail, which now boasts the world’s biggest newspaper website, pointed out that the content of these activities will be captured, too — and will be available with a court order.

Internet service providers will be asked to keep records of all emails, messages on social networking sites and conversations over Skype.

The content of the calls or messages will be recorded, but the authorities will have to obtain a court order if they want to listen to or read the content.
However, the police and security services will be able to demand details of who the communication is between and what time it is taking place without a court order.

But it was ordinary users, too, who stood up to have their say. Twitter users started to flood the official channel for Prime Minister David Cameron with messages about their anger — or protesting simply by copying him in to mundane notes on everything they were doing that day.

Meanwhile another Twitter user, Ross Lawson, made the point that transparency is not two-way — particularly apposite, given recent scandals surrounding the government’s cash-for-access scheme and its relationship with those questioned over phone hacking:

And some pointed out that we’ve been here before. Security blogger Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro said news of this legislative agenda had appeared several months ago — something at the time seemed like a significant invasion of privacy:

If your national or local postal service were to open and check every letter you sent in order to keep a record of whom you correspond with, would you not be outraged? What if the postal service then made all this information available to over 600 public bodies such  as local councils and police forces on request?
 
The Home Office insist that this information is vital for fighting crime and terrorism; but is this legislation really going to be effective against the people at whom it is supposedly aimed?

The Guardian, meanwhile, makes the point about the previous attempt to legislate for this capability — saying that “Labour tried to introduce a similar system using a central database tracking all phone, text, email and internet use but that was dropped in 2009″ amid concerns from civil liberties campaigners, ISPs and mobile phone operators.

The last word, however, should go to @davidcameroon, a Twitter spoof of Prime Minister David Cameron — who came up with a proposal that could prove a lot cheaper and easier than trying to pass a new law:

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  1. gregorylent Monday, April 2, 2012

    illegal when murdoch’s newspapers do it, legal when the government does it …

    governments are becoming the enemy of people, everywhere

  2. I suspect this isnt about catching terrorists its about a crooked self serving government trying to keep its control over people. The internet is the biggest weapon we have against these corrupt politicians which is why they want to take our power away. Also, once we lose our personal privacy and freedom the terrorists have won. I suspect the idiots running the eu are partly behind this but if the legislation goes through we will never know, as our voice will be lost

    1. its nothing to do with catching terrorists its control over ever one they want they wuld not have a security problim if they did not go in to other countrys killing woman men and children

  3. theinitiativegroup Monday, April 2, 2012

    We at The Initiative Group have become very concerned for civil rights in Britain. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide and http://theinitiativegroup.org/2012/03/28/nineteen-thirty-twelve-2/

  4. ye the terrorist part is a load of bs, This is just taking the p**s though….

    Thought we were still a democracy :s

  5. It is becoming clear that our governments no longer represents the people and policy is being driven by a shadow government – the people should therefore consider it illegitimate and act accordingly.

  6. One solution to the Governments proposals would be for every internet user in the UK to email the respective departments on a daily basis thus causing a D.O.S. Whilst they claim their proposals to be of national security are they in fact accusing everyone of being a possible terrorist? What the Govenment has forgotten is that in a democracy, If they have the right to spy on everyone then we, have the right to do the same and there are more hackers out there than in the government..

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