I know we are not talking about a war of independence here, but there are interesting parallels in terms of how these two governments on either side of the Atlantice view access to data on the Internet. The U.K. is proposing in recently introduced legislation, the Investigatory Powers Bill, that they would have access to citizens’ “Internet connection records,” for up to a year. This would not include the actual content of the Internet activity, but if deemed necessary, they could obtain a court warrant in order to collect this additional information.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is perhaps the strongest advocate for the Bill. “Do we need that data when people are using social media to commit . . . crimes rather than just a fixed or mobile phone? My answer is yes.” For many Americans this more expansive type of government oversight may be seen as a threat to our engrained sense of individual liberty and independence. We may even feel compelled to declare our own “inalienable right” to freedom from such government surveillance.
Who ever thought that social media would become a tool for terrorism? But this may have only been inevitable. These powerful new communication tools are in all of our hands to be used for either good or evil.