September 7th, 2002, 03:28 AM
Mainstream News; Privacy; Post 9.11
I am very pleased to see that the BBC is reporting about our privacy being eroded away in this day and age, since last year.
The UK is one of the worse places in the world for privacy with the internet playing a huge part in the erosion of rights, a report has found.
A 400-page study compiled by Privacy International and the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center paints a grim picture of the state of privacy in a post-11 September world.
There has been a systematic attack on the right to privacy by all levels of the British Government
"The internet is being turned into a surveillance device and eventually surveillance will be a core design component of computers," warned Simon Davies, head of Privacy International.
Privacy advocates have been shocked by the swift introduction of terror legislation following the 11 September attacks.
Increased sharing of information among governments, greater surveillance of communication systems and a huge interest in people-tracking technology such as biometric systems are all trends identified in the report.
Davies: UK antagonistic toward privacy
The report found that Britain had one of the worse records for mass surveillance and cited a catalogue of alleged illegal spying and surveillance activities by UK agencies.
"The UK demonstrates a pathology of antagonism toward privacy," said Mr Davies.
"There has been a systematic attack on the right to privacy by all levels of the British Government."
"We need specific and targeted measures so that agencies can tackle the new terrorist threat" Home Office spokeswoman
One of the biggest issues in the UK in recent months is controversial legislation which requires internet service providers to keep records of text messages, e-mails and websites.
It is contained within the troublesome Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act which is causing big headaches for government.
Plans to extend e-mail and mobile phone snooping to a wide range of government bodies have already been put on hold.
Officials are also struggling to overcome technical problems such as how to install so- called black boxes in internet service provider's networks to enable them to intercept data communications.
The government said the RIP Act has been introduced to ensure that snooping by law enforcers is closely regulated.
"We recognise that some of the investigatory powers, such as the interception of communications, are intrusive and that is precisely why the RIP Act imposes strict regulation on the use of these powers," said a spokeswoman for the Home Office.
"The events of September 11 mean the nature and level of the threat is different and we need specific and targeted measures so that agencies can tackle the new terrorist threat," she added.
The report is due to be launched at a conference on the impact of September 11 on privacy in London on Friday.