We should be seriously concerned about Big Brother, and I don’t mean the TV show (although I suggest we worry about what’s going on with that as well :))
There’s hardly a moment from dawn to dusk, and probably the hours in between too, that we aren’t being watched and having our activities recorded. And now it’s not just in the UK, but foreign powers can snoop on us too – legally. See the report below.
Your movements are followed by CCTV cameras, some of which use sophisticated face recognition programs. Your car license and numberplate are known and can easily be checked against your payment records and if the Government succeed in creating toll roads, they will know where you have been too.
Your mobile phone acts like a tracking device and your calls show where you have been and who you have texted or called. Many cars now have trackers that can locate the vehicle anywhere. There are phone apps that let you track your friends’ location too, such as this one.
Your cash withdrawals, your credit cards and stores cards, your loyalty cards – all of these are not just useful and time-saving but they are recording your transactions. Therefore, financial institutions know your spending habits, how much you earn, what you buy and where you buy it.
- Web Link for more information: yourprivacy.co.uk
No doubt you are aware of the relentless pressure to “link your accounts” online and to use one personal name for all of them, and all the different accounts post to one another if you don’t intervene. Increasingly, blogs and websites use this online ID too, and post your web hits to your Facebook, or whatever.
But your online purchases often get publicised and recorded too, and advertising cookies track your searches and website hits.
You must have noticed that, when you are thinking of buying (say) a new fridge, or a saw, or a case for your ipod that you instantly get little adverts following you from site to site, showing you exactly what you’ve been looking at and offering similar sales. This can feel a bit spooky unless you know how it happens.
One unwary politician was scuppered because he didn’t understand this process. He visited a rival’s blog and noticed there an advert for Philipino Brides, and on the basis of what he believed to be his rival’s choice, he launched a bitter attack on him. What he obviously didn’t know was that the advert was based upon HIS (his own) viewing habits! OOPS.
There’s a big push to get everyone online and to transfer all existing records to Government-controlled databases. But this gives even more opportunity to store your information. The internet already houses a massive amount of information about you, your connections, your purchases, opinions, hobbies and political allegiances. Your internet browsing, social networking, emails and google searches are all being monitored.
Jobless remotely monitored by Government
- Benefit claimants will have their online job applications remotely monitored by the Government to see whether they are making serious attempts to find work. See this report.
- A gang of burglars who texted to one another the lyrics of rap songs about their criminal activities, were arrested when the text was found on the mobile phone. The men probably thought their communications were private, but nothing is truly private these days.
- Making a claim for welfare will be even more stressful when lie-detectors are used to monitor your phone call.
This revealing video clip examines the UK’s heavy surveillance culture, (March 2012)
Many countries throughout the world have been adding thousands of surveillance cameras to their urban, suburban and even rural areas. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has directly stated that “we are fast approaching a genuine surveillance society in the United States – a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want.”
At the end of 2006, the UK was described by the Surveillance Studies Network as being ‘the most surveilled country’ among the industrialized Western states.
On 6 February 2009 a report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, “Surveillance: Citizens and the State”, warned that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies is a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights, stating that “The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country.”
From the same year we read this: Plans to monitor ALL internet use (2009)
“Communications firms are being asked to record all internet contacts between people as part of a modernisation in UK police surveillance tactics. The Home Secretary scrapped plans for a database but wants details to be held and organised for security services. The new system would track all e-mails, phone calls and internet use, including visits to social network sites.”
But that’s just the surveillance we know about. Were you aware that foreign powers have been given access to UK emails and phone calls? (Source By Martin Beckford, Home Affairs Editor Jul 2012)
Foreign governments could be given details of Britons’ phone calls, emails and internet usage in another deeply troubling part of new surveillance plans.
Ministers have confirmed that ANY overseas country can ask the Home Secretary for communications data as part of criminal investigations. Other public bodies can also allow access to the sensitive information as long as it does not break human rights laws, it has emerged.
The disclosures have prompted fresh concerns about the scale of the Government’s plan to monitor every email, phone call and website visit in the name of national security and crime-fighting.
Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton who obtained the new details, said: “It is deeply troubling that foreign authorities will be able to access all our phone, email, text messages, Skype and web-mail data. The Government has a lousy track record of its own in safeguarding this data. And if Whitehall can’t protect our privacy, what chance when it is shovelled off to Warsaw?” (for example).
U.S. Authorizes Mass Surveillance of Europeans
Europeans, take note: The U.S. government has granted itself authority to secretly snoop on you.
That’s according to a new report produced for the European Parliament, which has warned that a U.S. spy law renewed late last year authorizes ‘purely political surveillance on foreigners’ data, if it is stored using U.S. cloud services like those provided by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Europeans were previously alarmed by the fact that the PATRIOT Act could be used to obtain data on citizens outside the United States.
But this time the focus is a different law—the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Amendments Act which poses a much graver risk to EU data sovereignty than other laws hitherto considered by EU policy-makers, according to the recently published report, Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud, produced by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security.
The FISA Amendments Act was introduced in 2008, retroactively legalizing a controversial ‘warrantless wiretapping’ program initiated following 9/11 by the Bush administration.
Late last month, it was renewed through 2017.
During that process, there was heated debate over how it may violate Americans’ privacy. But citizens in foreign jurisdictions have even greater cause for concern, says the report’s co-author, Caspar Bowden, who was formerly chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe.
According to Bowden, the 2008 FISA amendment created a power of ‘mass surveillance’ specifically targeted at the data of non-U.S. persons located outside America, which applies to cloud computing.
This means that U.S. companies with a presence in the EU can be compelled under a secret surveillance order, issued by a secret court, to hand over data on Europeans.
Because non-American citizens outside the United States have been deemed by the court not to fall under the search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment, it opens the door to an unprecedented kind of snooping. “It’s like putting a mind control drug in the water supply, which only affects non-Americans”, says Bowden.
“The lack of attention European data protection authorities have paid to this provision has been shocking“, Bowden adds. But with FISA’s renewal and the release of the report, that could be about to change.
Most countries’ spy agencies routinely monitor real-time communications like emails and phone calls of groups under suspicion on national security grounds.
However, what makes FISA different is that it explicitly authorizes the targeting of real-time communications and dormant cloud data linked to ‘foreign-based political organizations’ – NOT just suspected terrorists, or foreign government agents.
Bowden says FISA is effectively – a carte blanche for anything that furthers U.S. foreign policy interests – and legalizes the monitoring of European journalists, activists, and politicians who are engaged in any issue in which the United States has a stake.
FISA, according to Bowden, expressly makes it LAWFUL for the United States to do ‘continuous mass-surveillance of ordinary lawful democratic political activities’, and could even go as far as to force U.S. cloud providers like Google to provide a live ‘wiretap’ of European users’ data.
U.S. officials, perhaps unsurprisingly, have continually rejected claims of mass snooping on Europeans. In a speech last year, William Kennard, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, addressed what he called the fear of unlimited U.S. government access to data, saying that all law enforcement and national security investigations in the United States are subject to legal and judicial constraints designed to protect individual privacy.
It’s certainly questionable whether a U.S. court, even in secret, would be audacious enough to actually authorize mass spying on European journalists, even if it is a theoretical possibility. But in Europe, serious skepticism remains.
Not satisfied with assurances from U.S. officials, Bowden and co.’s report calls for EU citizens to receive ‘prominent warnings’ that their data could be vulnerable to U.S. political surveillance. The report also proposes that Europeans be granted equal protection in American courts.
Email and web use to be monitored by Government and Police
The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon. Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.
The Home Office says the move is key to tackling crime and terrorism, but civil liberties groups have criticised it. Tory MP David Davis called it “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people”.
A new law – which may be announced in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech in May – would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant. But it would enable intelligence officers to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long. They would also be able to see which websites someone had visited.
Who is the target?
We are constantly told that we should support this high level of snooping because it prevents crime. (Really? Because I hadn’t noticed the crime rate going down!).
Criminals often know how to evade spy devices, whereas ordinary mortal Joe does not. He’s lulled asleep by the promise that, if he’s innocent he has nothing to fear, but is that true? Hardly! And if Joe is a Christian he should think about the amount of information he’s releasing to the public every day.
Ultimately though, nobody can hide – and that’s the aim! We may be innocent, but being a bible believer in this age is going to become dangerous eventually.
Thank GOD we “have a hiding place” that cannot be discovered: