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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

We need mass internet surveillance and data storage, quick as poss pls

A guest post from Billy Bytesworth

Who said what to whom, dates, times, data retention of traffic information... We must enact the government's planned mass internet surveillance in double quick time.  This might be a message alien to regular readers of this, the erstwhile stomping ground of a liberal who believes in privacy from state intrusion.

But there is a serious need for these measures.  A need greater than battling terrorism. A need greater, even, than stomping out copyright infringement. The reason we need a permanent immutable record of all internet transactions is clear from the shenanigans surrounding Messrs Murdoch, Murdoch, Hunt & Co.


I think we all agree it's in the public interest to do all we can to ensure we have a system of governance that works in the public interest.  A reliable and stable government is after all the most important prerequisite for a civil society.  (Dear Anons, please skip over this assertion. No need to DDoS me.)

For that we need public accountability and for that we must have true freedom of information. We must ensure from now on that secretaries of state, ministers, civil servants, special political advisers, newspaper proprietors and senior police officers will have a true and accurate aide memoire of all electronic correspondence.  Especially those tricky few emails which evade one's recollection.

That governments will be better held to account if every single email sent to or from a senior figure is captured, time-stamped, stored and made available for immediate public scrutiny I am of no doubt.

The only question is whether such a system may have the unintended and unforeseen consequences of inhibiting frank and open dialogue necessary for the furtherance of informed government.

If ministers and civil servants feel that such a system is not suitable I am willing to reconsider my position.

If those in power feel it is disproportionate to put the need of this country to have an honest and reliable government behind the need for officials and elected representatives to have a full and frank exchange of views in private, I may be persuaded...

Or maybe government officials feel such an invasive system won't end malfeasance?  Maybe they feel such a system would be disproportionate?  It would be costly, highly intrusive; yet fail in its aims, being easily circumvented by officials intent on subversion using widely-available tools to mask their electronic correspondence...

Yes, I might well come round to this view.

In fact we might even extend the principle beyond government. To furnish the right to all to be granted a level of privacy and autonomy that enables frank and open dialogue necessary for the furtherance of society and of knowledge.


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