Does the UK Government understand the Internet?

Email SnoopingThe simple answer is a straight “no”. Indeed, their latest daft idea to allow GCHQ to monitor the fact that you are reading this blog post is about as much sense as getting Eric Pickles to run the 100m against Usain Bolt at the Olympics. The Government argues that they need to monitor our every move online because it is the only way of really keeping up-to-date with terrorist activities. Whilst combating terror is clearly vital, the Government appears to think that the evil amongst us is in every home of the land.

Perhaps Government ministers need to know some things about the Internet. For a start, if terrorists are using email to help create their plots there is a chance they will be using high level encryption. And to crack that would take the computers at GCHQ combined with the might of every other computer in the world about 1,000 years or more. And if they can’t afford to use encryption technologies, once the Government starts snooping, all the terrorists will do is go back to old technologies, such as the postal service. So you can expect the Government to want every letter we send opened.

Perhaps Government ministers need better advisers. After all, the promise of a complete “e-government” has yet to be fulfilled, where we can do more than just get a passport or a new driving licence online. Many departments are making services available, but there is widespread variation in techniques and methods, only serving to confuse. Whatever advice the Government is getting, it isn’t producing the promises made.

Perhaps Government ministers need to spend more of their time online. Many of those apparently Tweeting and blogging are doing so using interns and constituency volunteers. Instead of doing the work themselves, a number of politicians have “outsourced” it (no doubt “on expenses”) and therefore have no real direct experience of the web themselves anyway.

Actually, what the Government needs is what every self-respecting business owner should be doing about the Internet: get the facts, get the best advice and get active online. Far too many business leaders make assumptions, get cheap advice and don’t take an active part in the online world.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
@chriscfox It was a bit of both. - 6 hours ago
Graham Jones

2 thoughts on “Does the UK Government understand the Internet?

  1. I think the government understands the Internet as a threat to their power having witnessed the Arab Spring, UK riots of last year and the hacking DoS activities of Anonymous and other Hacktivisits . They are also under pressure from lobbiests including the record and movie industries who demand that individual copyright infringers are identified and preferably publicly executed. The only way the government can see to meet these threats is to control the Internet and all its users by full monitoring. As you correctly point out this has little to do with terrorism as terrorists will use encryption. VPN, code words, proxies, word of mouth or even hand delivered notes and carrier pidgeons. So who is behind the push to real time monitoring? Simply it is the IT companies who stand to gain huge multibillion pound government contracts and contracts from ISP’s. The lure for them, like the ID card scheme before it, is that it wont work, will be late, will suffer from requirements creep and need constant maintenenace to keep up with the ever changing Internet use. It is now a well known fact that Whitehall manderines recieve many gifts, hollidays and go on corporate junkets, from the companies lobbiests in order to sway them to a particular point of view. Indded we now know that even an audiance with the PM can be bought with a donation to the party. The danger of course is that we proceed with these daft ideas on the understanding that we will always have a benign government, if at some time in the future the country slips to the extreme left or right then the monitoring will be used to track down and persecute any opposition. Imagine what Adolf Hitler would have done with this technology… and then step back from the abyss.

    • Thanks for your comment Graham. I agree that many big businesses will gain greatly from this proposal. After all, the amount of server storage space that will be needed and constantly added to is boggling.

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