Tuesday, April 07, 2009

If you ain't got nothing to hide

MI5 From yesterday, all UK ISPs began keeping records of emails and online phone calls as an EU directive on data retention that already applied to telecoms providers was extended to ISPs. ISPs are now legally obliged to store details of emails and internet telephony for 12 months as a potential tool to aid criminal investigations. The content of emails and calls will not be held, but ISPs will record the date, time, duration and recipients of online communications.

It may not be very trendy to say so, but my reaction to this news is: good!

Although it's possible to imagine circumstances in which this information could be abused, anyone who wanted to do this already could (if you seriously think the Security Service - MI5 to you - couldn't get this information if it wanted to, you're deluding yourself). I'm far more concerned about the effect this will have on perceptions of the internet, and as far as I'm concerned, they're positive. When we all lived in small rural communities, we were subjected to this level of scrutiny all the time - it's called social cohesion. The idea that the internet is a complete free for all where anything goes is dying. Good.