Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Governmentality and internet monitoring

The BBC reports here that communications firms are being asked to record all internet contacts between people as part of a modernisation in UK police surveillance tactics as the government backs away from the creation of a central database to record communications in the UK. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says the data is needed to combat terrorism and other crimes.

Critics have called the idea excessive and an infringement of civil liberties. Existing legal safeguards under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act would continue to apply. Requests to see the data would require top level authorisation within a public body such as a police force.

The Home Office is running a separate consultation on limiting the number of public authorities that can access sensitive information or carry out covert surveillance. Reuters describe here that the Home Office research has estimated the proposal would cost up to 2 billion pounds to implement.

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I am director of the Media and Persuasive Communication (MPC) network at Bangor University where I also lecture on political-economy of the media. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Deconstructing Privacy for Peter Lang and leading two empirical projects in connection with privacy perception and the use of new media for smoking cessation. I am author of Creativity and Advertising: Affect, Events and Process (Routledge, 2013); The Mood of Information: A Critique of Behavioural Advertising (Continuum, 2011); and Digital Advertising (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009). Please contact me at mcstay@bangor.ac.uk if you are interested in Ph.D supervision or consultancy services.