Sir Tim Berners-Lee is pleading with the UK government to put a stop to a bill that would allow intelligence agencies to monitor citizens emails and social media accounts. The bill in question, intended as a counter-terrorism measure, has been in discussion for some time.
Berners-Lee serves as an the adviser to the UK government on ways make public data more accessible has called the bill “a destruction of human rights”. He also believes it will make peoples’ most personal information “vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials.” reports the Guardian.
According to the father of the internet, “The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing”. Something that is dangerous no matter whose hands it is in.
“You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites… or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.”
Many bills intended to regulate our content online have been popping up in the last 18 months. Anti-piracy bills such as SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA were a big deal in the United States, but the proposed UK bill goes far deeper than these controversial bills.
The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous. It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and [could be] used, for example, to blackmail people in the government or people in the military. We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused.
A number of governments appear to now view social media as a potential threat. Following a court ruling, the Indian government urged 21 companies, including technology giants Facebook and Google, to censor offensive material published through their services. Under China’s great firewall, has many Western social media sites are blocked. Although Russia has not banned social networks, there has been suspicion that a number of monitoring sites were deliberately hacked during its recent contested election
As it stands, the proposed UK bill will allow the GCHQ to monitor all Skype, email, and social media communication, as well as log every website that Britain users visit. Berners-Lee suggests that an independent third-party would have to be involved to help monitor the government’s actions. At the end of the day someone is monitoring someone else.
The bill is set to be discussed during the Queen’s speech on 9 May.