Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has urged the people of Britain to stand up to the Conservative party’s decision to reintroduce the so called ‘snooper’s charter’, which will significantly extend the UK’s surveillance powers . Talking at the Web We Want Festival in London’s Southbank Centre, Berners-Lee warned that Britain has ‘lost the moral leadership’ on privacy and surveillance, and that it needs to strongly reconsider its position if it wants to remain a ‘worldwide leader in the promotion of good governance of the internet.’
The speech came in reaction to a far reaching new Investigatory Powers Bill, which was announced by the leader of the Conservative party, and Prime Minister David Cameron, during the Queen’s speech last Wednesday.
The new charter will allow for the sweeping collection of Britons’ electronic communications both via web and social media, extending the security services’ warranted powers in order to legally allow for the bulk collection of content. This includes forcing technology and communications firms to retain all internet browsing records, text messages, and phone call data for a minimum of twelve months.
This is in addition to the expected part of the bill, which allows the government to close down any premises and arrest any person who is believed to be endangering the workings of democracy in the country. From the talk,
‘The discussion [in the Queen’s Speech] of increased monitoring powers is something which is a red flag … this discussion is a global one, it’s a big one, it’s something that people are very engaged with, they think it’s very important, and they’re right, because it is very important for democracy, and it’s very important for business. So this sort of debate is something that should be allowed to happen around legislation. It’s really important that legislation is left out for a seriously long comment period,’
Berners-Lee made it incredibly clear that a free and open internet for all must be fought for at all costs, and made a strong point of criticizing Britain’s draconian moral stance on privacy for its citizens, commenting that since the Edward Snowden revelations,
‘[Britain] has lost a lot of that moral high ground, when people saw that GCHQ was doing things that even the Americans weren’t’ So now I think, if Britain is going to establish a leadership situation, it’s going to need to say: ‘We have solid rules of privacy, which you as an individual can be assured of, and that you as a company can be assured of.’
Going on to comment further on how it affected businesses working in Britain, he continued,
‘If you want to start a company in Britain, then you can offer privacy to your users, because you’ll know that our police force won’t be demanding the contents of your discs willy-nilly, they’ll only be doing so under a very well defined and fairly extreme set of circumstances.’
Showing just how out of touch with popular belief British ministers are(and in stark opposition to Berner-Lee’s stance,) Home Secretary Theresa May commented that these new measures were largely necessary, and come as a direct result of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, which has betrayed his country of birth (America) and negatively affected the UK’s national security, thereby endangering lives.
During Tim Berners-Lee’s speech, the main aim of which was to spread the five main points of the Web We Want campaign – freedom of expression online and offline, affordable access to the net, protection of user data and privacy, a decentralized and open infrastructure, and net neutrality – the inventor of the World Wide Web went on to criticize the idea of rolling out a limited version of the internet for places that currently have no access, specifically referring to Facebook’s Internet.org project as something that people should ‘just say no’ to,
‘In the particular case of somebody who’s offering … something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no. No it isn’t free, no it isn’t in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something … [only] giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards.’
With bulk data collection on its way for all citizens living on the British Isles, the use of VPN to keep your communications and web browsing habits private is strongly advised, at least then, you will afford yourself a little privacy in the narcissistic and violating climate which the draconian government seems to think is in everyone’s best interest.
Perhaps downloading an encryption app for text messages and phone calls for your smartphone or tablet might also be a good idea. Snowden himself recommends encryption products such as TextSecure by Whisper Systems (or Signal for iOS). Do not forget also that Whatsapp offers in built encryption, and is therefore a reasonable option for anyone that wishes to send messages that are not openly available to inspection by GCHQ.
‘We should expect attacks on encryption, which protects all our security.’
Anyone interested in protecting their privacy is advised to head on over to the Open Rights Group’s (ORG) web page where it has started the ‘Don’t Let it Bounce Back’ campaign, which aims to ‘stop the Snooper’s charter’ with a new petition,
‘Do we really want to live in a country where the police tries to access all of our text messages to our loved ones, the emails from our friends, the Facebook messages we’ve sent and the Snapchat photos our friends send us?’
Here at BestVPN we strongly encourage any British citizen who cares about privacy to join ORG’s campaign and sign the petition… we wish them the best of luck!