For Privacy's Sake

‘Big Brother is watching you’ is a bit of a cliché but the Investigatory Powers Act is eerily close to it.

A common (and foolish) line that is regularly touted by defenders of invasive government policy is that, "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide." And therein lies a serious problem, because what the people making that defence fail to recognise is that there is now an open door to change the way in which a government governs the country. The Conservatives at Westminster have implanted a seriously invasive policy which deserves more awareness and more attention than when it was first enacted.

The Investigatory Powers Act was enacted in 2016 and it compels the likes of phone companies and internet service providers to log an individual's browsing history, social media, phone calls, online gaming and texts. In short, an individual's entire online profile. The organisations that have access to this do not require suspicion of criminal activity to intercept what you send or call online.

These companies are now legally required to hold these as well as offer up any information that various government bodies request. The list of organisations that have access to your entire internet history is extensive. It may be argued that that's all well and good when used for the correct reasons but, with legislation like this, it opens up a serious debate on the right to privacy.

By forcing internet providers to maintain a copy of everyone's actions online, it opens up multiple avenues to obtain information about a person. The power to access an individual's personal data is open to abuse by those who are able to request it. Who becomes liable when there's a cybersecurity attack in which your information is taken? It could be by an individual looking to blackmail you as easily as it could be by a government looking to control you. The issue with this legislation is it has allowed the creation of a virtual door where one shouldn't exist at all.

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the term 'doxxing', for those of you who aren't aware the dictionary definition is: "The search for and publishing of private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent." The Investigatory Powers Act has opened up access to your entire online footprint. That picture you sent to your ex. Your political affiliation. Who you text, email or call and the contents of each. Your interests. Your health worries. What you look at online. Your sexual preferences. Your religion. Everything. This allows the government access to it.

Would you allow a complete stranger to read everything you've got on the device you're reading this article with?