(c) 2010, The Wor(l)d Has Changed
Yet another blow to your privacy, specifically the Internet privacy of British users, was dealt in the United Kingdom yesterday. It is believed to be a precedent that will be followed by other countries. It's been nicknamed the Snooper's Law or the Snooper's Charter and what it allows is terrifying. Tim Berners-Lee has a lot to say about the topic. If his name doesn't ring a bell, Tim Berners-Lee is the man who really did invent the Internet -- sorry, Al Gore -- and is currently head of the World Wide Consortium (W3C), is founder of the Web Foundation, and is co-founder of the Open Data Institute in London, England. Berners-Lee calls the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is the British legislation's official title, a "security nightmare". James Blessing, the Chairman of Internet Service Providers Association, called the bill "a zombie which has been [around] since 2007, [but now] it's alive". Even whistleblower Edward Snowden referred to the bill as the West's most extreme surveillance program ever.
Why all the hub-bub? Well, what the English Parliament did was to require all records from any Internet service provider (ISP) or any messaging service -- yes, that means smartphones, iPhones, etc. -- of sites visited or used by anyone in the United Kingdom to be kept for one year. That's right, all records kept for one year. A petition against the bill was started after the bill passed, but has garnered more than 100,000 signers. That means it will be debated in Parliament, but will likely have no effect on the bill.
How did this happen? A couple of factors played into the result. For one, English politicians are not well-versed in technology, or even just the Internet itself, and therefore had nothing of their own foreknowledge with which to decide. That ignorance also played into a second factor of those same politicians turning a deaf ear to pleas against the bill from the technology industry in general, privacy supporters, and Internet service providers. It was along the lines of thinking I don't know that much, so why learn anything more?
Clearly, those same politicians took no account of what the result of the bill passing would be.
In this upside-down year of 2016, one must also consider a likely third factor: living in a post-Brexit vote world. So much going on can cloud one's (or even a collective's) perception. Not to mention the Investigator Powers Bill being over 500 pages long certainly did not help.
The bill further loosens Internet security in the UK by allowing any entity at all, from the local police all the way up to any government body, to legally request any information whatsoever. As the bill stands, no independent body can "mind the store", as it were, about who is requesting and what is requested. Additionally, new legal punishments are included for "offenders".
In light of what happened yesterday in England, it would seem that the security and liberty destroyers' clarion call of If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear is still, as 100% logical as it sounds on the surface, an effective persuasion. In a perfect world, that would be certainly true. It may take a lot of terrible things to happen first, but people are slowly beginning to learn that that very persuasion is, in fact, a perversion of the truth.