Mike Odysseas
Mike Odysseas

Member Article

Government cyber-snooping plans “pointless and embarrassing?

Mike Odysseas shares his views on the Government’s ’cyber-snooping’ plans.

Plans for Government, police and intelligence officers to be able to monitor anyone’s real time phone and internet records will be pointless and a major embarrassment if they appear in the Queen’s Speech.

Quite simply, the plans do not take into account what is realistically feasible. The timing of the leak of this story is an attempt to make it “old news” when it is included in the Queen’s speech, and no wonder. It is hugely flawed. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be expected to hold the information on behalf of any government department. Some ISP’s could choose to sell their new ‘legal snooping’ database, as BT attempted two years ago but failed due to consumer backlash.

Additionally, it’s likely that the £2bn+ cost to businesses of this bill would be passed on through government taxation or higher charges for consumers. Firms like Odyssey Systems, smaller ISPs, will suffer, along with millions of consumers.

This appears not to have been thought through or even had input from any industry experts. The reality is that it is highly unlikely to be able to work in the way suggested, making it a pointless exercise, the cost of which will undoubtedly be borne by the consumer through taxes or increased charges.

From the ISP’s perspective, most of the services involved are secured in such a way that not even the ISP can tell what the user is doing. All that is available is what account logged on and the time they logged on. There is no real proof that it was the account owner who logged on. The actual data transferred would itself be unreadable and would definitely not reveal who the user was contacting or the content of the conversation.

The aim of the legislation is to allow very close monitoring of an individual’s entire communications, to include Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Skype etc. All these services use highly encrypted security that not even the government can bypass. However, the government can already get all this information and much more, directly from service providers such as twitter, with a simple warrant that is not even signed by a judge.

As is clear from recent comments from pro civil liberties organisations, this new legislation is clearly an attempt to get access by the state to all communication information for every single UK citizen simultaneously and without any due process. The original bill allowed the police, councils, quangos and 650 other public bodies unfettered access to the information, and this will arguably be the case in the new proposed legislation.

We have to ask - what is the purpose of listening to the general background chatter of the public at such great expense when we could be saving that money to keep open valuable schools and hospitals. It seems that everyone, except the government, knows that even the most stupid terrorist would communicate with a throw away PAYG mobile which avoids traceability. Logically, this bill will only drive the more intelligent terrorist to permanently secure their communications so that they could not be intercepted, something they may not be doing today because they have no reason to believe they are being monitored.

With one fell swoop the government is decimating civil liberty and preparing a new generation of terrorists to circumvent legislation which already works perfectly well.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mike Odysseas .

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