The 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.
- Green Cross Code for the Internet is another Government mess (grahamjones.co.uk)
- UK News: Backlash grows over GCHQ ‘snooping’ (walesonline.co.uk)
- GCHQ Launches Cyber Expert Online Recruitment Initiative (prweb.com)
- Theresa May defends email surveillance plans (guardian.co.uk)
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+