In case you’re at all worried about the authorities pulling you up on your communications once the Investigatory Powers Bill kicks in, it looks like you don’t need to worry because you’ll be censoring yourself anyway! According to a new study, believing you’re under surveillance leads you to do away with that whole pesky ‘freedom of speech’ thing that we’ve all become so lackadaisical with, and comes just as major tech companies push for more changes to the incoming ‘Snoopers’ Charter’.
Participants in the study were ‘primed’ to believe their e-comms were being watched by the government, and then asked a series of questions about how likely they’d be to give opinions on potentially controversial current events.
Taking into account a whole mess of different factors, the study found that if participants believed they were being watched they felt they’d be less likely to say what they really think (something that the cast of The Only Way is Essex should arguably put some serious thought into). The conclusion may sound unsurprising, but the implications for free speech if May gets her way are pretty bleak. If you’ve ever read the book 1984, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The other thing that the survey found was that those who were the most conformist were also the biggest supporters of government surveillance policies. The ‘nothing to hide nothing to fear’ mindset is understandable until you realise a) it’s kinda the principle of the thing and b) what about when the government starts talking crazy and saying things like the only type of music you can listen to is Justin Beiber (the early years) or that vinegar should be outlawed? What then?
The researchers summed it up well by saying: “This study shows [surveillance] can contribute to the silencing of minority views that provide the bedrock of democratic discourse.”
As well as the whole self-censorship thing, it seems that many still think the Bill is wooley at best, as major US tech firms call for it to address more of their concerns before it gets finalised on 5th May. Tech firms including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, UKFast and Twitter have all voiced their fears.
They said: “As we made clear in our evidence to the joint committee, the actions the UK government takes here could have far-reaching implications – for British citizens, our users and for the future of the global technology industry.
“Decisions made today about UK legislation will set precedents which may be copied elsewhere and have wider ramifications for all parties, both in the UK and overseas.”
The specific areas of concern are: ‘The bill’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, the lack of clarity around encryption, judicial authorisation, bulk collection, transparency, judicial process, oversight, and network integrity and cyber security requirements’. Some fairly important things then.
A final shot across the bows of the bill was splashed across today’s papers with the news that the collection and storage of personal communication records will cost £1.2 billion – seven times the originally estimated £174 million. Possibly time to reconsider?
For more information on the security solutions that we offer take a look at our website or give us a call on 0208 045 4945.