We seem to be at a disturbing point in the history of the internet where our freedom and privacy are seriously threatened. The UK, US and UN all have control proposals being considered at the same time, which makes us wonder why there is so much focus, and a rush to establish control.
In the UK.
Home Secretary, Theresa May has expressed that the draft of the Communications Data Bill (also known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’) will give police more powers to tackle organised crime, paedophiles, and terrorists, and that any opposition to the legislation will reduce the efficiency of the police in detecting crime. Unfortunately for her, the proposed legislation goes much, much further than the impression she is attempting to give by sensationalising and playing on people’s fears. Perhaps the only ones we have to fear are May and her cronies.
She gives the impression that only basic details of emails and visited webpages will be kept and be available to police – not true.
The Communications Data Bill will compel ANY ‘communications service provider’ to retain detailed information about their users for twelve months. In effect, this means that ANY communication via the internet will be subject to the bill. Email, browsing history, instant messaging, Skype calls, other VOIP, VPN traffic, Facebook, other social networking, mobile communications using the internet networks and anything else that uses the internet will be monitored.
You may think that the bill won’t affect you because you are a law-abiding citizen – think again. The main problem with the way ‘communications service providers’ will be required to maintain data on their users is security. For example, if a user visited their personal banking site, everything they do will be recorded. If you have passwords or personal information you use during an internet session, these could be severely compromised by providers recording your internet activity. All it would take is a determined hacker to gain all of the personal information you used. The fact is that hackers get into systems that are supposed to be impenetrable all the time. Think of the valuable information they could get about all the users of a service provider.
As we have seen in fairly recent history, the UK government will attempt to put legislation into place that erodes our rights, although at the time they will dress it up as something to protect us from our false fears.
Take a look at the proposed legislation for yourself. You will see that there are very vague definitions that could be used for purposes other than what we are led to believe is its intended use. This is another step towards the Orwellian state.
In the US
A US whistleblower, William Binny, has exposed how the FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including senators and other government officials. Bonney worked as a code breaker and mathematician for the NSA (National Security Agency) in the US and resigned in 2001.
Bonney warned that the US stores email information and will use information against anyone it deems to be a threat to the US. The monitoring of email communications by the FBI using a device known as ‘Naris’, is against the US constitution claims Bonney.
After working for the agency, Bonney decided he could no longer be associated with violations of the US constitution.
The full interview with Bonney can be read on the Russia Today website here
In the UN
The UN International Telecommunications Union’s internet regulation treaty talks started this week in Dubai. The talks have sparked protests and criticism from Google and other organisations concerned about regulation of the internet and the threat to an ‘open internet’.
The current event sees government regulators from 193 countries considering the overhaul of existing regulations which were last updated in 1988. Each country has been asked to contribute to the debate by submitting their own proposals – some of which have been described as ‘alarming’ by the US.
“There have been active recommendations that there be an invasive approach of governments in managing the internet, in managing the content that goes via the internet, what people are looking at, what they’re saying. These fundamentally violate everything that we believe in in terms of democracy and opportunities for individuals, and we’re going to vigorously oppose any proposals of that nature.” Said Terry Kramer, the US Ambassador to the talks.
Another disturbing proposition by a group representing major telecoms companies such as Orange, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telecom, have been lobbying governments to introduce what they describe as a ‘quality based’ model. This model would mean that internet providers having to pay to ensure their quality-critical content is delivered to minimise buffering (such as video). An idea that would mean those with big budgets would be able to swamp the internet with their content.
One of the architects of core components of the internet, Vint Cerf, said “A state-controlled system of regulation is not only unnecessary, it would almost invariably raise costs and prices and interfere with the rapid and organic growth of the internet we have seen since its commercial emergence in the 1990s.”
Other concerns have centred on control of the net and security and freedom issues. With control of the internet being regulated by governments, there is a serious risk of civil liberties being ignored and a surveillance culture spreading.
The talks are only open to governments – which is a concern for many companies and organisations currently involved in the internet world. Google itself has also run an “open internet” petition alongside the claim: “Only governments have a voice at the ITU… engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.” However, the ITU has pointed out that Google has a chance to put its views forward as part of the US’s delegation to the conference. “They are here, and they’re telling everyone that it’s a closed society,” said Dr Toure when asked about the firm’s campaign.