The coalition are considering passing legislation that would enable GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters) free reign to monitor every e-mail, text, phone call made and website accessed by the public at large. As well as being made to store all electronic communication data of all customers for 1 year, ISP’s would be required to install boxes across their core networks, which would allow GCHQ to dip into those communications at will.
Putting it mildly this would be an affront to civil liberties. This policy raises many questions; what happens if an individual has their phone or computer hijacked by someone with an ‘illegal’ agenda? It would be left for the innocent user, whose IP address was identified as the perpetrator, to prove they’re innocence. Those who have the ability to mask their IP addresses will simply continue to do so through proxy. From a service provider view- how would VPN data be monitored? Does the coalition fully realise the scale of what is proposed? Just as a comparison is Royal Mail expected to open and copy every piece of mail it handles as it delivers it to its rightful recipient?
As of 2011, according to Ofcom, mobile and fixed line household penetration in England alone is currently at 76%, that’s over 45 million people who regularly use the voice/data networks. E-mails and texts are in the 100’s of billions, if not trillions per annum. Moreover who’s going to pay for storing all of this?