The new communication bill, aka snoopers charter, was launched last week. It gives the government the power to force mobile and internet service providers to store details of UK citizens’ phone calls, emails and Internet usage for a minimum of 12 months. However, no sanctions can be applied to companies outside of the UK, such as Google, Facebook or Twitter. Instead the government will collaborate with them to recover the required data. In addition, officials have also admitted that there are “black boxes” that can be used to collect data in transit.
There are two points to consider here;
- Your Google searches,Facebook posts and Tweets are stored in the companies respective systems for up to and beyond a year, even if you delete it. So even though you may clear your browser cache, Google will still retain your searches. When you search or post from your mobile device, your location is stored effectively tracking your movements over the year and more. Does it actually matter? If you’re up to no good it may, but as a UK citizen do you really want big US corporations storing this information about you? How can you prevent it? You can’t – unless you stop using them altogether.
- The second point to consider is the “black box” which collects data in transit. I doubt this black box will be storing everyones data, but it will be scanning all transatlantic data for keyword, phrases or voice messages. Again does this matter? I would have thought that most international crime organisations would be employing some kind of encryption anyway and would be using anonymous proxies to cover their tracks.
In the end it is going to cost the UK tax payer in excess of £2 billion over the next decade. Good money well spent? I’ll let you decide.