25 November 2014

hacking-spyingI often speak about the need for politicians to seek out advice from businesses and industry experts when making decisions that are likely to change people’s world. Canvassing their opinions is the best way to ensure the laws being made are workable and effective.

However, it’s not always the way the government seems to operate, something we’ve seen recently with Theresa May’s suggestion that internet service providers retain data showing which IP address belonged to a certain device at a given time. In theory, the idea is supposed to help police identify criminals and terror suspects, yet in practice it would be much less simple.

As an analogy, it’s like saying you’re going to open every single packet to or from anyone who uses Royal Mail. There’s no device in this world that could manage the kind of operation Theresa May is suggesting. Even if you doubled the capacity of the people involved, it’s still too complex. It sounds a lot like this idea was generating without consulting anybody with a working knowledge of the internet.

Surely, people who are already breaking these kinds of laws are doing it regardless. It’s easy for people who know what they are doing to become untraceable using a VPN. Also, what happens when it comes to businesses, whose employees likely share the same external IP address? It would require a lot of internal monitoring, money and resources to ascertain who was sending what and when. If you factor in things like the trend for hot desking, the complexities become mind-numbing. It’s a data overload!

Whilst I’m all for stepping up our guard when it comes to counter terrorism, I have yet to see the value in this law. Where is the evidence that it will make the world a safer place to live in? ISPs already work hard to assist the police for crimes like fraud and illegal pornography. Why create another law and another layer of bureaucracy that will simply waste time and achieve very little in the process?

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