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Email and social network surveillance

April 4, 2012

You might think that the idea of email and social network surveillance is some sort of April fool's joke, but believe it or not it’s actually true.

This Big Brother style proposal is not the first time there has been an effort to introduce communications montioring. In 2009 an unsuccessful attempt was made by the government to try and collect communication data - when costs were estimated at £2 billion to implement the project the plans were droppped. So what does this new threat of potential government surveillance mean?

Currently if there is a need to access specific email data, courts can give police permission via warrants to investigate suspicious activity. However this proposal is different in that email data would automatically be collected by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and passed onto the government (including specific details of who has been communicating with whom and when, but NOT the content of emails).

This proposal is about making the data available as and when it is needed by the appropriate authorities. However just thinking about the logistics around the storage of such an enormous amount of data poses many questions and problems -  
  • Who would be responsible for monitoring the data?
  • Where will the data be stored?
  • What is done to keep the data secure?
  • Who will pay for it?
No doubt there will be a high level of interest in these proposals, as the impact of these privacy issues is discussed and debated by businesses, consumers and politicians.

This issue isn't going away anytime soon. But it is certain it will take the relevant parties a significant amount of time, money and co-operation to implement the proposal as well as provide relevant reassurance to the public. 

Posted by Jenni Malley
Social Media, Topical email

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