When I read about a new spying plan of the UK Government this morning I thought it was an April Fools prank.
However, with dozens of reports in established media it unfortunately appears to be very real.
According to a report in the Sunday Times ministers are planning to introduce a law that will give the Government access to all emails, browsing habits and text messages of the public.
The legislation is expected to be launched during next month’s Queen’s Speech.
Under the proposed law Internet providers have to install hardware to allow the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) access to the personal information.
While emails and text messages can’t be read, the Government will be able to see who’s communicating with who.
Nevertheless, if passed the new legislation will be a HUGE boost for the VPN providers that still respect people’s privacy.
The Home Office confirmed the plan in the following statement.
“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.”
“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 communications.”
Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, was shocked when he heard about the plans and said:
“This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran.”
“This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses.”
“If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?”