UK Government Wants Power to Monitor Internet Users

Some fear that the new law will bring the UK on the same level as Iran or China

By Eduard Kovacs on April 2nd, 2012 11:53 GMT

The United Kingdom government wants to give organizations such as MI5 and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the power to closely monitor all Internet traffic, including emails and website visits.

Similar to countries such as China, where every move made by Internet users is carefully monitored by the local government, UK citizens may also be tracked by state authorities.

According to The Guardian, the law is expected to be announced on May 9 and it will force service providers to collect information that may later be utilized by whichever agency requests it.

“It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes,” a Home Office representative revealed.

“Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communication.”

However, while this may be a good measure to fight terrorism, organizations that fight for civil rights fear that this may pose a great threat to the customers’ privacy.

Of course, as many may remember, this is not the first time when such a law is proposed. A few years back a similar counter-terrorism legislation was being debated, but it was soon ditched because of the implications.

Now, the current coalition revived it, making Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worry once again not just because of the technological impediments, but also because many of their clients may refuse to accept such strict monitoring.

“There would be a lot of work to establish how much this would cost and then there are the moral and legal arguments about whether it could or should be done. If we were to do this then there would also be questions asked of us by our customers as well,” an ISP representative said.

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The UK government wants to keep a close eye on Internet users
   The UK government wants to keep a close eye on Internet users
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