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Should the UK be a "surveillance state" where nothing can be private?


thewilliam 6 4.9k
22 Oct 2013 10:26AM
There was a piece on the news about Sir Malcom Rifkind, one politician that I rate very highly, speaking in favour of routine surveillance of email traffic. He claims that many of the terror plots were foiled as a direct result of such eves-dropping.

My late father, who spent his working life in telecomms research, used to warn me that I shouldn't say anything in a phone conversation that I wouldn't write on an open postcard and send through the mail. Now emails are similarly insecure.

Pre 1989 East Germany was like a gigantic prison camp where would-be escapers were often shot on sight. Dissent proved a capital offence in so many cases and discovery was a near certainty, thanks to an effective network of informers.

What do readers think?

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NaturesHaven e2
3 261 5 England
22 Oct 2013 10:40AM
We're all doomed...........GrinGrinGrin
wrinkles e2
6 351 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 10:52AM
Try selling a house, and see all the crap you have too read, makes me ashamed of my place of birth.SadSadSadSadSadSadSadSadSadSad
col_c e2
1 22 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 11:15AM
In my view it is a balance between our security and our freedom from state interference. Where any of us draw the line depends on how much we care about our privacy. Personally I am not too worried as long as what the security services in democratic countries get up to is subject to some form of democratic control. As I understand it in the UK that link between the security services and democratic institutions happens through the Joint Intelligence Committee.

As well as the countries now revealed to be monitoring internet traffic in a big way as revealed by Snowden I think we can be fairly sure that all the major powers will be sniffing internet traffic. It is pretty simple to do at a basic level and it would be surprising if any state could resist the opportunity. The only new thing we have learnt from Snowden as far as I can see is the scale of the monitoring and some indications as to how the software works..

The UK Post Office was set up in 1660 by Charles II as a monopoly to carry mail and setting up private mail systems was illegal. One of the reasons for this was of course so that Charles II could steam open anyone's mail and make sure any plots against him were discovered. The more things change, etc...
22 Oct 2013 11:49AM
There are already groups of people that have automated e-mail systems that send out, reply and forward messages that contain as many of the "key words" that the surveillance systems look for, simply to overload the system.

The use of codes and security encryption systems has reached the level where technologies such as quantum computers are needed to discover the message content.

But as we all know, it's a battle that has been around as long as mankind has.
thewilliam 6 4.9k
22 Oct 2013 11:54AM
Ben Franklin said:-

Any people prepared to trade freedom for security, deserve neither and will probably lose both.
robthecamman 3 1.4k United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 12:18PM
thought it was with nosey neighbours Smile
Kako e2
8 143
22 Oct 2013 3:19PM
All pervasive surveillance technology begs the question why we still have any organised crime at all..it should be possible to identify and arrest virtually everyone involved within weeks. Why hasn't this happened...?
thewilliam 6 4.9k
22 Oct 2013 4:07PM
Would you expect total honesty from the police or politicians?
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 4:13PM
with increasing reliance on technology, my concern is not surveillance as such, but the impact if for some reason you are brought to the attention of law enforcement agencies - do you remain on a watch list 'just in case'? I think this is realistic concern because this sort of surveillance is only really effective if they can identify patterns and that, by definition, will not happen with one-off communications.
Think of the old game of 'Kevin Bacon' where you had to try an build a path from any person or film and end up at Kevin Bacon within 6 links. By that definition I could be on the watchlist for Osama bin Laden if the agencies wanted to do so!!!
Hallie e2
1 166 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 5:06PM
Where do you stop spying on your own citizens?

I believe what constitutes a 'terrorist' will become a very broad spectrum and lead to an erosion of civil liberties under the guise of 'protecting us'. It's already happening, and we have a tendency to follow the policies of the US - not the finest example of democracy Blush

Hitler may have said something along the lines of 'if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear'.

I suggest, in order to reduce the likelihood of 'terrorism' a few minor adjustments to our foreign policy wouldn't go amiss Wink
thewilliam 6 4.9k
22 Oct 2013 5:22PM
It used to be a matter of commonsense that when people make a habit of kicking dogs, it's only a matter of time before they get bitten.

Back in the Victorian era, our government very wisely decided that the Afghans were better left alone so, in 2001, why did they participate in the invasion?
Hallie e2
1 166 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 6:07PM

Quote: why did they participate in the invasion?


Everything from terrorist masterminds living in caves to women's rights Wink
spaceman e2
10 5.2k 3 Wales
22 Oct 2013 6:08PM

Quote: He claims that many of the terror plots were foiled as a direct result of such eves-dropping.


They never give any details about these foiled terror plots do they? Just a lot of vague banalities that we're supposed to believe without question.

This from Media lens may be of interest.
Hallie e2
1 166 United Kingdom
22 Oct 2013 6:17PM

Quote:They never give any details about these foiled terror plots do they?.


It puts lives at risk! Similar to the revelations of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden putting lives at risk, but no evidence of that either.

Ooops. GCHQ will be going bonkers at the mention of those three in the same sentence Tongue

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