It's no big surprise now that many governments all over the world want to monitor the Internet usage and communications of its citizens. There's a law currently sitting around in Canada, the United States's rumored NSA surveillance facility, and the UK's rumored legislation that would force ISPs to spy on their customers. From here, it looks like the legislation in the UK is the one that has the best chance of actually being enacted.
The Telgraph is reporting that the new spying legislation will be proposed next month in the Queen's Speech. The legislation would make it so that ISPs have to install hardware that would let the government spy in real time on its citizens. It's the kind of Orwellian nightmare that many people have fought to prevent. The government thinks it has a good reason to enact such measures though - it's all about keeping you safe.
Perhaps in a way of not making it seem that bad, it is required that police have a warrant when they want to access the information. If that doesn't make you feel better, you're doing it right. The ISPs still have to keep records of all communications between yourself and groups of people. It doesn't just stop at who you talked to, but for how long and how often.
The UK government has been obsessed with security ever since they won the bid to host the Olympics in London this summer. They believe that the event will be a major terrorist target and they want to protect its citizens from any such event. A noble cause if there ever was one, but spying on your own citizens isn't how one combats terrorism and crime. It's invading the privacy of normal citizens. You would think governments would learn by now that terrorists and criminals, unless they're really stupid, don't use easily traceable and breakable forms of communication.
This news is on the heels of the NSA being called in last month to answer questions on its rumored surveillance program that would spy on every citizen in the United States. The UK is at least letting their intentions be known via legislation, whereas the NSA is rumored to be doing its dirty deeds under the noses of everybody without any kind of oversight.
The Telegraph says that a similar bill was proposed in 2006. It was eventually killed by massive outcry from citizens. We can only hope that the current bill faces a similar backlash that will eventually kill it. We'll keep you updated when the UK government formally introduces this bill.