Tuesday, 26 October 2010

If you want to read my mail, get a warrant

Any government that read my e-mail would soon be bored to tears by the horrifying tedium that is my correspondence. If you think Plashing Vole's dull, you've seen nothing compared to the stuff that goes in and out of my Mail folders every day.

But. I don't think that the state should have unfettered precautionary access to my communications. If I've been charged with an offence, or I'm a reasonable suspect, fine. But the Intercept Modernisation Plan proposes to give the state automatic access to every single electronic communication within or through the country: phones, e-mail, websites, the lot.

Yes, they probably already do this. Additionally, most of you put all sorts of things on your Facebook pages which older generations might consider private, but there's a principle at stake here. Giving the state unfettered access to our communications as a matter of right means that every conversation, every status update acquires the aura of evidence. Some humourless people, with humourless computers, are reading your texts and assuming that you're up to no good.

Paul Chambers was arrested and convicted for 'sending a menacing communication' after tweeting that

 "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"
His appeal is being heard now. OK, he's an unfunny guy - but his case is just the start. Once the Intercept proposal becomes law, you'll be one of many getting a knock on the door following a clumsy joke, a mocking phrase, a tasteless comment.

Sign the petition. It won't help, but you'll feel better. Thanks to Ewar for pointing it out.


Ewarwoowar said...

This reminds me of something a friend once told me - I still haven't decided whether I believe it or not, so see what you think.

He told me that if you send a text message to someone at, say, 1:05pm, saying something like "Terrorist plot re. David Cameron still going ahead", wait 1 minute, then send another text (at about 1:07pm) saying something like "That last text was just a silly joke - still up for meeting for a drink tonight at 9?" than the SECOND text message will reach the recipient first...

Like I said, not sure that's true, but...

The Plashing Vole said...

Try it! Seems doubtful: copying messages with keywords in them won't take any more time than just passing it through, but it's true that keyword recognition is a regular event.

I suspect that it's no use though - they might have the computing power, but you steal need large numbers of people to sift the data, which takes a long time.