It was only a week or so ago that the government announced their plans to monitor electronic communications – being emails, texts etc.
And now we have another privacy matter in the news – ISPs being asked to restrict content, although at the minute this is being limited to adult sites and illegal downloads.
But I do wander where people’s common sense lies.
People were complaining that they did not want the government to see the SMS and e-mail messages that they sent and received; but they were completely missing the fact that not only do many people *already* get visibility of this information, but the government was only going to make the “meta” information available – not the content – without a warrant. In essence, they would know that you sent something to someone, but without probable cause, they couldn't do anything about it.
Surely this shouldn't offend or upset the majority of people, unless they have something to hide?
And surely they already know that their ISP or mobile provider already has access to the entire contents of their messages – and of course, do you think that these companies hire people for their security awareness or character? Or just to get a job done?
If people want privacy, then they really need to wake up and realise that the “normal” mechanism we use to communicate daily – SMS, Email, Telephone, even the mail to a degree – can be intercepted by virtually anyway – government or non-government.
And now ISPs are responsible for filtering content.
To be honest, I really don't like this idea. At all.
The thought that our government can dictate what content is, and is not, available via the internet disturbs me greatly, and has this distinct feeling of heading towards something akin to the “Great Firewall of China”. Perhaps we are going to become a data island, and all traffic will be monitored, logged and allowed / denied at point of entry (edge switches etc)? Maybe the government will get the ability to key word monitor this traffic and red flag events and people?
While I do applaud the movement to try and clean up the internet – and specifically, remove the seedy elements of the internet, I do understand (as I bet many people do not) that these elements are wholly responsible for the early internet – and that without their continued investment the odds are that what we have today would not exist. Instead, we would probably still be using dial up BBS’s and Gopher.
I would much rather see ISPs (and in particular router manufacturers) releasing easy to use routers with more comprehensive firewalls and filtering routines. That way if people WANT to filter their traffic (i.e. to protect children and such), then they can. But no way do I see that this should be forced upon ISPs by legislation.
While I think that technology allows us to give away far more than we should (GPS data on twitter posts, foursquare checkins, Facebook, etc), I don’t think legislation is the way to control this. Perhaps education on users would be a better router, but no-one seems to be willing to step up and take the lead. Perhaps the technology vendors themselves need to start looking out for users’ privacy instead of the bottom line?
Or perhaps users just need to stop being so naive and thinking that vendors DO look out for their privacy, and that everything is safe?