In a move that even the most nonchalant of privacy advocates is crying foul over, the UK has put into effect a European Union directive which mandates the archival of information regarding virtually all internet traffic for the next 12 months. The program formally went into effect Monday.
The data retention rules require the archival of all email traffic (the identities of the sender and receiver, but not the contents of the messages), records of VOIP telephone calls (traditional phone calls are already monitored), and information about every website visited by any computer user in the country. The rules are being pushed down "across the board to even the smallest company," as every ISP large or small will be required to collect and store the data. That data will then be accessible -- to fight "crime and terrorism," of course -- by "hundreds of public bodies" to investigate whatever crimes they see fit....
The privacy implications of the rule are enormous, as everything UK citizens do online will now be under the watchful eye of EU's powerful Home Office. One privacy advocate, whose anger is clearly barely being held back, called it "the kind of technology that the Stasi would have dreamed of." Naturally, the government counters that this kind of information has already proven invaluable in tracking down criminals, including the killer of an 11-year-old boy a couple of years ago.
Ah, the old If-it-saves-even-one-child-it's-worth-it argument.
Probably the same argument that the Obama administration intends to make for providing the President and Secretary of Commerce virtually the same level of power over the internet with the Cybersecurity Act of 2009....
Funny, aside from Libertarians, all those folks who got around to protesting the Patriot Act and then took up telecom immunity, are pretty much nowhere to be found on this one.