Planned UK Laws Provoke Internet Privacy Concerns

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Internet privacy and civil liberties experts in Britain are up in arms about UK ministers’ plans to introduce new laws allowing police to increase their monitoring of citizens’ email and social media accounts.

The planned legislation would allow police and other security forces to collect data from Internet Service Providers about the identity of users communicating online but not the content of the conversations themselves, reports The Guardian . Officials are framing the measure as a weapon in the United Kingdom’s struggle against terrorism.

Haltemprice and Howden Conservative Member of Parliament David Davis was very critical of the legislation, which he deemed an unnecessary and egregious violation of citizens’ privacy rights. “What is proposed is completely unfettered access to every single communication you make,” Davis said. “This argument it doesn’t cover content -- it doesn’t cover content for telephone calls, but your web address is content. If you access a [website], that is content.”

The legislation would not be without precedent. Germany attempted to implement a similar measure two years ago, only to be met with a barrage of some 35,000 complaints to the supreme court, which led to the law being struck down. “I suspect the same would happen here,” Davis told BBC Radio 4.

While those in favor of the changes might claim they are necessary to combat terrorism, one could easily point to the current use of communications data being used to thwart attacks in the UK as evidence that police and security forces don’t need the increased access to citizens’ data.

The Internet privacy changes are planned for a May proposal from Queen Elizabeth II, who has just recently learned of the existence of the Internet.

Image: The Guardian

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