Sunday, 1 April 2012

Government plans to read your emails, texts and lives

The government and secret service have plans to monitor all communications between civilians in the UK. Internet firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail and other online firms will have an obligation to provide access to the government to our private communications. The agency demanding this is GCHQ. All this, the government argues, is to reveal potential terrorist threats which would normally go unseen and to boost the war on terror.

As emailing, texting, phoning and facebooking are so woven into our lives, the government will be able to see everything we do. Privacy would cease meaning in a such a scheme.

The problem is that this monitoring of our private 'spheres' of life (for a more in depth understanding read John Stuart Mill's- On Liberty) breaches our liberty and our right to live in a democracy and not in a 'big brother' dictatorship state.

An argument for this change is the simple case that we have nothing to hide from the government... the people that do hide illegal practices or abuse the justice system will be caught and on average more justice will be served. Also more potential terrorists will be investigated hence a smaller chance of actual terrorist attacks.

This at first seems a legit argument but the fact that most of us are good citizens doesn't allow the government to swarm over our lives. Officials, which happens now at times, may abuse this system and share certain information which was supposed to be kept private, they may even intercept your conversation even if it was completely innocent. Democracy and a liberal society will only truly flourish and progress if there is actual liberty to communicate privately and to communicate without fear of impingement or ear-wigging of the government.

Also it hasn't been explicitly shown that this monitoring system will actually be an aid to national security. The masses of information will almost be mathematically impossible to decipher based on vague empirical criteria used to catch terrorists. They should carry on with the usual system i.e. asking for warrants to investigate certain conspicuous groups.

This system of monitoring will also face expensive and impractical legality issues e.g. interfering a patient-doctor communication goes against the doctor confidentiality legislation. Also if information is bought up from a private conversation, should the people involved be informed of this?

They should invest more money into more security in public transport such as the underground, national rail and buses so that they could possibly detect terrorists there. Although many fear this intervention plan maybe too late as damage can be done even then.

I feel that the government has not yet justified itself fully for implementing this scheme and I feel that it would cost too much (remember that deficit thingy we are already in?) it is also going backwards politically as we are trying to liberalize our society not have it become a transparent big brother one.

Let's hope the house of lords will keep this from becoming law and even better... let's hope this is an April fools joke.

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