Friday 13th November 2015 will be forever a day etched in the memory of Parisians and those around the world who witnessed on mass the terrorist atrocities as they unfolded across social media and world news.
While France mourns the loss of civilian lives in the tragedy some in the UK have used the opportunity to push what was originally coined as the Snooper’s Charter and now known by the official name the Investigatory Powers Bill to the forefront of the consciousness of the British public.
There is nothing like a terrorist attack to give ammo to those in the upper echelons of society to force their opinion of how surveillance should now take on an even bigger brother approach.
Within 24 hours of the attacks a member of the British House of Lords, Lord Carlile was calling for the Investigatory Powers Bill to be pushed through and that “we must let our security services and police get on with the job, and equip them with all the powers that they need”.
In an article published in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, Lord Carlile states that terrorists use the internet to communicate and while he is not calling for blanket surveillance he does feel that the security services need increased powers to be able to monitor terrorist activity. On the face of it the statements are fair and just, not one person for or against the Snooper’s Charter wants to see more terrorist attacks but nor do we want our freedoms and civil liberties to be curtailed as a result of them.
Clueless “Lords” making technology demands
Clearly Lord Carlile does not understand how the internet works and simply by logging the websites that all users in the UK visit will not stop terrorist attacks. Encrypted communication is possible in a number of ways and none less so than by using services that fall outside the jurisdiction of the UK. While large corporations are more likely to co-operate in decrypting data (although this itself would not be without a lengthy legal battle) there are other communications tools made by individuals or groups of individuals who may not even be possible to be located to request such decrypting.
So while the terror attacks in France may be a good opportunity for unelected “Lords” from the UK to spout fear-mongering rhetoric the reality is the same. Logging the nation’s website history will solve very few crimes as criminals and terrorists are always one step ahead of the authorities in any capacity and will always find ways to circumvent such logging requirements.
As the average Joe or Josephine will have his or her interest in mental health websites, BDSM fetishes or other private fantasies logged the criminals and terrorists who the law is aimed at will be spending their time circumventing the requirements using tools further at reach than the security services will have access to.
If a $7 VPN service will defeat the logging requirements then don’t they think criminals have something slightly more sophisticated up their sleeves?
Whose going to pay for the IPBill anyway?
In a country that is cutting back on spending and public services the issue of the cost of the Investigatory Powers Bill has also come to the forefront of thought. Logging the website usage of every citizen in the UK will be a costly business and this will either need to be paid for by the government itself using tax payers money or by the Internet Service Providers and other carriers of content.
ISPs have already stated that if the costs are placed on their shoulders then these that are likely to be so large will need to be passed onto the consumer which, in essence, means larger household internet bills to pay for the spying of your own use.
The BBC report that the government have stated they will offer £175 million over a period of ten years to help with the costs but as ISPs are still unsure about the cost implications of storing and safeguarding such information it is impossible to know if this will be enough. Either way by increased bills or using tax payers money it is us the everyday citizen who will be covering the cost of a law we never asked for.
So the IPBill debate rumbles on and any terrorist activity between now and the resolution of the bill will no doubt be used to garner support for the government’s plans.
Image courtesy of nipitphand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net