A week barely seems to go by any more where our government, or another government or organisation with influence, fail to propose a method to limit the privacy of its citizens, with most recent note to their use of the internet.
Despite having shot-down Labour plans just prior to the shift in government, the Conservative government is expected to revive calls for mass monitoring of internet traffic in the form of the 'Communications Capabilities Development Programme'. The new law will require both ISPs and other communications providers to hold onto transaction logs of all communications, be they messages on an MMO, e-mails, Skype calls or twitter messages, for a period of one year, with the government expected to propose the plan sometime in May.
The details of each transaction to be recorded would include contact details, email addresses and phone numbers and, whilst actual message content would not be recorded, all the details that are stored will be readily open to inspection by law enforcement. We somewhat suspect that, were there enough hard disks for the right price, the government would also propose recording of actual message content.
"The coalition opposed Labour's plans in opposition. Now, despite civil liberties commitments from the Conservatives and Lib Dems, Home Office officials are planning to push through the same on-line surveillance capabilities." stated the Open Rights Group, "They are not telling Parliament, and hope they can slip commitments to build these new surveillance plans before the politicians really know what they are proposing. The plans are a huge waste of time and money, as well as being a huge intrusion on our civil liberties. Online government surveillance is the last thing we need right now."
Aside from the clear violations of privacy, our concern also lies with elements of the new legislation that would require ISPs to be responsible for holding onto data, where past experience tells us just how easy it is for private data to be leaked or misused for other purposes.