Monday, April 27, 2009

UK political fears of surveillance state

"Communications firms are being asked to record all Internet contacts between people as part of a modernisation in UK police surveillance tactics. The home secretary scrapped plans for a database but wants details to be held and organised for security services. The new system would track all e-mails, phone calls and Internet use, including visits to social network sites. Ministers say police need new tools to fight crime but opposition MPs and campaigners have raised privacy fears." Read the detail of the BBC report here.

From my school boy history I remember that in World War Two the Allied forces were able to gain lots of useful information from studying the communications traffic between Axis forces, well before they'd broken the 'Enigma' code system to understand the content of messages.

People often argue that there's nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong. But that only is true so long as those in authority are broadly sympathetic with my values. And that can change pretty fast - see last week's US Department of Homeland Security report identifying those who oppose abortion on demand as a potential right-wing extreme terrorist threat.