UK Set to Infringe on Online Privacy Under National Security Guise

The UK is set to go the US way by tightening its grip on online freedom and privacy. The government of the UK is using the excuse of taking care of national security interests to take away the citizenry’s rights to online privacy. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the government will focus on encrypted communication.

In a move that is all but set to irk UK citizens, the government has stepped up its efforts to snoop, watch and observe private communication over the internet in the UK. The expected moves to infringe on the rights of the British people to privacy have been lent moral support by the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks in France.

In what is turning out to be the practice in many countries, a terrorist attack is almost always followed by an unfortunate affront on the rights of citizens under the excuse of safeguarding national security. The practice of governments using the fear generated by a terrorist attack was set by the US, which passed a set of laws which basically all but did away with privacy as far as internet communication goes. The US ran a surveillance program that is today well known as the PRISM program under these laws.

The UK has been accused of invasion of its citizen’s privacy of before. The focus then was on suspicious emails and phone calls. The people of the UK raised concerns and in a move to protect themselves started adopting techniques to keep their information and communication private.

A recent report online stated that six in every ten UK internet users are worried about their privacy this year more than they were last year. The report further established that the people were more worried over their information being leaked by companies rather than being accessed illegally by the government. While it looks like the UK internet users are aware of the danger that they gave online, it is worrying that they are  focusing on the danger that seems least  threatening to their online privacy.

The government poses the biggest risk to online privacy. Utterances like “”The attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face, and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in order to keep our people safe” by the UK Premier show that the governments are willing to put in resources to access private information under the guise of security.

One might wonder why the government is a big threat to online security. Well, there are three main reasons why the government is a big threat. One is because the government has massive resources. The second is that the government can legislate to make invasion of privacy legal and the third is because the government can always find a convenient excuse lie the recent Paris attacks  to convince a large segment of the population that its actions are not only justified but also necessary.

By focusing its efforts on encrypted communication, the UK government is going after people who have taken deliberate steps to stay private online. In the words of David Cameron, “terrorists must not win”. Indeed there is a need to secure the nation, but there has to be reluctance to invade into the privacy of law abiding citizens whose only fault is trying to defend their privacy.

Top/Featured Image: By Acts of Union 1800 / Wikipedia (

Pierluigi Paganini Cyber Security Analyst; Member, European Union Agency for Network and Information Security Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group; Founder, Security Affairs Blog. Co-author of The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World.
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