Barely five months ago the Liberal Democrats campaigned to remove all unnecessary data storage. However it has recently emerged that plans, proposed by Labour to monitor and store all internet and phone data, are being considered again by the coalition government.
The inception modernisation program, created under New Labour, is a system designed to monitor and store much of the traffic passing through the internet and the telecommunications networks to prevent and document terrorist activities.
However, the initiative failed following a massive public outcry at the perceived violation of privacy.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review, published on 19th October, states the program is needed to “preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework.”
This statement is debatably at odds with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition agreement declaring the “ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason”.
Many have viewed this as another example of a u-turn from the Liberal Democrats, who appear to be further capitulating to the demands of the Conservatives.
Furthermore an investigation by the London School of Economics estimated the total cost of the project in excess of £2.5 billion.
The program may be of special concern to the teenage and student population, who already have much of their private lives displayed on the internet. But does our use of networking sites, such as Facebook, negate our right to complain over this attempt to breach our privacy?
Arguably Facebook, with its prominent emphasis on photos and chat, ismore intrusive than any legal program the Government could desire. Facebook boasts over 500 million users, and with the average user having over 130 friends and the complex security settings baffling many; it is more than likely most of your ‘life’ (photos, conversations, chat) can, and has, been viewed by any one of the multitude of ‘friends’ you have added over the years.
In this respect what the Security Review is suggesting is arguably little more than what most people have already signed up to. Obviously social networking sites, once you have the measure of them, provide security and privacy settings which can be set by users according to their personal preferences.
Despite our generation’s tendency to over expose themselves on the internet there is clearly a massive gulf between posting photos and conversations, to be viewed by old friends, and a program that would actively track our conversations and interactions. It can clearly be argued that a program such as this goes against British ideals of civil liberties and many of the policies of the Liberal Democrats.