Apparently the UK government is considering introducing mass surveillance and storage of our communications on social networking sites. The EU Data Retention Directive, which states that ISPs have to store customer traffic for a year, doesn’t cover them but that might be about to change.
If it isn’t bad enough having to worry about potential employers poking about on social network profiles, now the government is in on the act two. It’s not that I personally have anything to hide but in principle it takes the notion of transparency to a whole new level.
The operation is estimated to be costing a cool £46 million over 8 years, so understandably there’s been a few complaints. And what about all the data breaches we’ve had recently: should we be comfortable with all our communications data being in government hands?
The government sees this sort of thing as being vital to the fight against terrorism and cyber crime but although social networks are a useful tool for group formation, I can’t see them being used much for covert activity. Even if it is happening then such communications will be moved elsewhere. Can the £46 million pound price tag be justified by what can only ever amount to being a preventitive measure?
Unsuprisingly, comparisons with Orwell’s dystopian future have already begun and this time it’s justified. I often think people make too much of a big deal about data issues, like with the recent facebook debacle, but basic privacy is something we’ve all come to expect from democratic society. This could really stifle the freedom and creativity that the internet has encouraged.