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Britain Wants to Read Your Text Messages, Emails, and Basically Everything

I admit to not knowing the breadth of privacy laws in every country (I barely know them here) but I have to say I was completely surprised to read a report that Great Britain is laying out a plan that would allow its government to allow “state surveillance to cover every phone call, email, text message and internet visit.”

I really despise the Patriot Act and the bad law it has generated and I feel like government uses the terrorist excuse to broaden its power over citizens and trample on our rights.   Maybe GBers feel different about this.   Karen?

Edited to add:   I had forgotten to mention the spying on its citizens that the US does as reported by ABC wherein Americans in the Middle East had their phone calls tapped by NSA so that agents could listen to the US citizens having phone sex and other totally benign but private discussions.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Anion
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 11:40:32

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

  2. NKKingston
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 12:35:14

    They keep announcing things like this, but most of the time they’re just displaying their ignorances of the internet. Considering most CCTV doesn’t actually get watched, the chances they’ll ever find time to look at even a fraction of all the emails, texts and website hits is pretty slim.

    This is not to say that I’m not completely and utterly against this, but considering that our own elections are too far off, I suspect this is more to do with that than actual security; after all, it’s been – what? – five years and they still haven’t got ID cards off the ground. The government talks loudly about infringing privacy in the name of national security, but it doesn’t actually seem to be able to do it.

  3. Ann Bruce
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 12:57:02

    Considering most CCTV doesn't actually get watched, the chances they'll ever find time to look at even a fraction of all the emails, texts and website hits is pretty slim.

    But you can have software filter on key/trigger words.

  4. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 14:27:36

    No, as far as I know, this isn’t at all popular over here, which might well explain why it was just recently announced that the plan has been delayed (though not dropped completely):

    The government has confirmed plans to give police and security services more power to store e-mail and phone data will not be in the Queen’s Speech.

    Jacqui Smith said on Wednesday a consultation would be held on the controversial plan in the New Year.

    But the home secretary did not say if it would be dropped from the government’s legislative programme for the next Parliamentary session.

    Commons leader Harriet Harman earlier confirmed it would be delayed.

    Ms Harman faced calls in the Commons from the Conservatives and Lib Dems, who both oppose the plan, for a debate on the draft Communications Data Bill, in which it was due to be outlined. (BBC News)

    On Monday the Government had to announce that another of their proposed measures to combat terrorism (which many other people felt excessively infringed civil liberties) would have to be shelved:

    Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has told MPs that plans to extend terror detention to 42 days will be dropped from the Counter-Terrorism Bill.

    It follows a heavy defeat for the government in the House of Lords, which threw out the plan by 309 votes to 118. (BBC News)

  5. Jenre
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 14:37:08

    The government is always coming up with ideas on how to restrict our privacy. These ideas are drawn up and then generally discarded around election time, only to be picked up again when they think we’ve forgotten about it. Basically, I think the government would be hard pressed to get public support for this – even if it is in the name of anti-terrorism and judging by the government’s recent record on accidently losing discs/lap-tops/files containing the private data and bank details of thousands of people, the idea of finding, and then safely storing, personal information seems laughable.

  6. Marianne McA
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 04:49:25

    I could be persuaded either way.

    Theoretically, I’m a Guardian Reader and appalled by the invasion of privacy – but practically, if the Troubles restarted and the security forces weren’t reading the e-mails of everyone who might be involved, I’d think they weren’t doing their jobs. Needs must.

    I don’t think it will happen – too undoable, too expensive, too open to abuse.

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