All those cliches about Big Brother or The Man watching everything you do online are usually just jokes. We try to explain away the idea that Zuckerberg wants to know every minuscule detail of your life by taking it to a ridiculous point.
But while this is happening, you also have governments around the world making it more difficult to keep your anonymity, or even just having the freedom to browse anything you like without fear of it all being noted down.
China is massively strict in what it allows citizens to do. So are North Korea, Egypt, and Ethiopia. And now, thanks to a secret initiative under the ‘”Snooper’s Charter,” the United Kingdom, could be joining those ranks, according to a piece on Wired.
Two unnamed internet service providers, along with the Home Office and the National Crime Agency (NCA), have been conducting data collection tests for the last two years. The tests are being lumped in as part of the controversial Investigatory Powers Act, and depending on the results, we could see the data being rolled out nationally. If successfully pushed through, this could create a dangerously powerful tool for what is allegedly a democratic union.
If those in charge were a little more open and honest about what’s happening, people in the UK might feel slightly more secure. However, many elements have been “shrouded in secrecy,” and parts of the legislation are even being challenged in court. Nothing says ‘have faith’ more than a trial that’s had no public announcement for a system that people within the industry literally aren’t allowed to talk about.
We see what you’re doing…
The idea behind it is that your ISP can create Internet Connection Records, or ICRs. Your metadata will be collected. For reasons. Obviously. It doesn’t quite go into the minuscule details, but if required, the government will be able to see you’ve been on KnowTechie, but not that you’ve read this specific article (or if you need a way to chill out after reading this brain burner, Ste’s review on The Gold Edition Storz and Bickel Volcano vape).
Times, dates, sites browsed, and how long you’ve spent on each domain can all be stored by a web or phone company. For up to 12 months, if signed off and ordered by a judge. Even more worrying, some of these orders have already been made in the real world.
That these data requests will theoretically be possible en masse feels like a case of your ISP trying to “collect the haystack in order to identify two needles,” says Heather Burns, policy manager at the Open Rights Group.
Look, I understand the logic of “well if you’ve got nothing to hide then you’ve got nothing to worry about.” I really do. But to secretly test something like this? Something that will give the UK government free rein to inspect almost every aspect of your online life?
Do you invest in cryptocurrencies? Have an affinity for one specific type of porn (including pee porn, fisting, and/or squirting – all of which are illegal in the UK)? Viewing any of these may result in automatic tracking and logging. Again – for up to 12 months. If signed off by a judge.
It’s all just so incredibly invasive, and it makes you wonder where it’s going to stop. The government has already tried to ban memes (yes, really). What’s next? Are they going to push the boundaries and move on to collating the exact articles and pages you browse?
All this is without considering the idea that your security could be compromised. After all, there were multiple data breaches across all government departments between 2019 and 2020.
You can’t be trusted
Whatever way you look at it, it’s a concerning sign from a parliament that’s been tightening up on the freedom of its population recently.
The UK is a nation where you can peacefully watch a soccer game or celebrate a title win without worrying about social distancing or by being reprimanded too harshly by the police. It’s also a nation where a peaceful, socially distanced vigil for a murdered woman is forcefully broken up by the colleagues of the man who is accused of murdering her. You have to wonder how far things are going to go.
Have any thoughts on this? How do you feel about these rules being brought forward by the UK government? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.