PRISM and the currently shelved Draft Communications Data Bill

PortcullisThere’s been a lot of noise about the PRISM surveillance program (American spelling because it’s American). There’s a ton of stuff about it on Wikipedia.

A few people asked whether I was going to write a blog post about it. I wasn’t. Lots of people earn their living just looking at this kind of stuff.

There is one thing worth considering though that particularly springs to the forefront of my mind and that relates to the Draft Communications Data Bill that was recently dropped by the Government from the Queen’s Speech.

Without understanding fully what PRISM actually does and what data it accesses I imagine that the capability is pretty similar to what might have been demanded of the ISP industry by the Comms Data Bill.

My biggest objection to that Bill was that it was a serious threat to the personal privacy of every individual in the country because of all the data that would have been gathered. Availability of the data = inevitability that the data would have been leaked. The only way to not have that data leaked would be by not gathering it in the first place.

History shows that the most likely source of such a leak is internal to an organisation, be that within the ISP storing the data or from the negligence (laptop left in taxi etc) of the civil servant or member of the security forces looking after said data.

Well the fuss about PRISM has demonstrated that this is exactly so. Important information was leaked from within the US security establishment by an insider, Edward Snowden. The same can be said of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks.

The only way of not having the data in the public domain is not to keep it in the first place.  I’m not going into a lengthy debate re the rights or wrongs of what the USA is actually doing with PRISM. Just that we should bear that in mind whenever the next attempt to introduce the Draft Communications Data Bill comes along, as it inevitably will.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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