• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Investigatory Powers Bill and Privacy Protections in the UK

Since writing about the threat of iPhone privacy in the US and the UK in January, political lines have been drawn with Mark Zuckerberg siding with Apple and Bill Gates standing with the FBI in this ongoing debate. But how private is the information on our iPhones in the UK specifically?

Apple has been buttressing its claim in recent years that it sells products, not personal data like two of its competitors, Facebook and Google. A recent article in Macworld.co.uk, analyses privacy with Apple and Google and concludes that data is safer with Apple for the following reasons: the passcode on the iPhone locks out the user for one minute if the passcode is wrong for six tries and can be set to erase data if the passcode is wrong 10 times; the Touch ID fingerprint scanner; the Secure Enclave which “uses a secure boot system to ensure that it the code it runs can’t be modified”; Apple is demonstrating its commitment to user privacy by refusing to cooperate with the US government in unlocking iPhones (in large part because with the latest technology, Apple cannot break into the iPhone); and Google has demonstrated in the past that it is hostile to user privacy.

In the UK Apple has likewise let its position related to privacy be known: “Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a “backdoor” in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.” Conversely, a recent poll has shown that the majority of the general public (60%) in the UK is actually supportive of measures where the government should be able to monitor communications in questions of national security in a poll conducted by Comparitech.com: “[T]he study found that 49 percent of the 1000 people questioned from the UK (nationally representative) cite national security as having more importance than an individual’s right to privacy.”

Of all the actors in media and communications, Amar Singh, chair of ISACA, a UK security advisory group, finds these results troubling, especially when “so many are willing to sacrifice their civil liberties and privacy for claims of protection. Let’s not forget that no government has a stellar record in protecting their own information and if technologies are updated to allow ‘free access’ for the government, then criminals will no doubt be able to obtain the same.” And the Information Commissioner’s Office, the government watchdog criticised the internet connection records that would be revealed, “Although these are portrayed as conveying limited information about an individual they can, in reality, go much further and can reveal a great deal about the behaviours and activities of an individual.”

On the other side of this argument, the UK government has expressed that it does not want backdoors to encrypted messages but instead is asking that companies decrypt messages on demand. This is a contradictory policy as the government is expressing two antithetical ideas about privacy: we respect privacy, except when we do not. The Investigatory Powers Bill, also called the “Snoopers’ Charter,” will be introduced into the House of Commons this week. Home Secretary Theresa May has recently been accused of trying to rush through this problematic surveillance law before the EU referendum later this year. May, who is overseeing the creation of the IP Bill, witnessed similar changes blunted in 2012; nevertheless she now proposes 86 changes to the current spying laws. Recently May told a group of MPs and Lords that companies would be obliged to remove electronic protection on information when a warrant is issued.

Lord Strasburger, a Liberal Democrat peer who sat on the joint committee, criticised the bill stating: “The real reason is that although the Home Office pretends it wants a mature public debate, actually it does not like having to justify what would be the most intrusive snooping powers any Western government has into its citizens’ private lives.”

As American citizens discovered after 9/11 and more recently with the NSA files, the line between personal privacy and public safety is inscrutable when the politics that determine this line are constantly shifting.

More articles by:

Julian Vigo is a scholar, film-maker and human rights consultant. Her latest book is Earthquake in Haiti: The Pornography of Poverty and the Politics of Development (2015). She can be reached at: julian.vigo@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
stclair
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail