Privacy on a fast-track to nowhere?

UK Westminster
Maybe those missing files fell in the river? [Credit:Marius745 (Own-work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

The UK government announced something quite unusual last week, in the form of a rushed plan to "fast track" new laws on compulsory data retention into place.

The fast track element worried many, as this is a sort of emergency parliamentary process used to force rules into place in a hurry, without the usual debates and votes that we, as a democracy, tend to expect to see.

The government said this new set of rules on what user data ISPs and phone companies are required to keep is needed because the EU kicked out our old ones, and if we don't get new laws in place the ISPs and telcos may start deleting their records on what we've been doing and who we've been calling, rather than storing them in case they're needed in some future criminal investigation.

The conspiracy theorists on the internet said, well, they said quite a lot.

Enormous brother

The best ZINGER of the week was found on the Guardian, where reader Lierbag had the crowd heaving and up-voting like mad with his response: "Although if you're part of an establishment paedophile network, none of your records will apparently be retained."

That, international readers, is a reference to some other UK-specific news from last week, in which it was revealed that a dossier allegedly detailing high-profile political paedophiles was accidentally lost by… high-profile politicians.

A little further down the page, commenter Peccadillo summarised the unfair treatment perceived by the common man, suggesting: "If we break the law, we get prosecuted by a government agency, but if a government agency breaks the law, they change the law. And they wonder why they are so despised!"

Losers gonna lose

The 'comedy' filing mishaps at the heart of the UK government were also highlighted by FT reader Paamery. They filled us in on another terrible accident that befell our leaders: the "losing" of some files to do with the UK's role in the rendition shame. He said: "It's funny that while the government wants to retain unfettered access to our private data and communications, it seems unable to ensure that its own records are kept properly."

It's not really funny. Not like a joke. It's more like a weird, suspicious case of irony that's been dreamed up specifically to ensure stacks of negative comments and bizarre conspiracy theories hit the internet.

Reader David Tallboys is not laughing either, raging: "I am staggered at how easily the British have surrendered their rights and freedoms. Once you start an Inquisition (or GCHQ) and task it to root out heresy (or terrorism) it will continue to find and redefine heresy or terrorism in order to self perpetuate itself. We already have local authorities using terrorism legislation to snoop on rubbish bins."

And commenter Whistler made a mockery of the entire thing, asking: "Is it not easy for potential terrorists to get around all electronic tracking by merely posting letters?"

World in motion

Over on ComputerWeekly, reader GRH was busy educating commenters about how it's going to be from now on. He said: "It is all smoke and mirrors. The Government will do what it wants - there is no freedom just the illusion that you have a choice. Steadily the world is entering a fascist state step-by-step to the NWO and Agenda 21."

Don't look up Agenda 21 unless you want to spend a lot of time reading weird things that probably aren't true. It's either some boring UN paperwork or an attempt at population control by the secret lizard-people, depending on which side of the arguments you tend to believe.

Commenter WelshGuy is pretty disillusioned by it all, but to a slightly lesser extent, asking: "This begs the question of why bother voting at all - none of the parties ever question anything. Nothing changes, no effects on ordinary people? Yeah, right. If that was the case why would they bother doing this in the first place?"

So they can claim expenses for all the fact-finding trips to mobile companies and ISPs headquartered in the Bahamas?

Earth control

There was masses conspiracy chit-chat over on the Daily Mail, where investigative commenter Nowhere went a bit 'David Icke' and explained that it's: "All part of the Bilderberg/New World Order plan - create a reason to usher in martial law etc - they can now no longer be bothered to be subtle about it."

Although he didn't say how recording data showing who you've phoned over the last 12 months is connected to the lizard-people at the heart of the NWO.

LadyJBritish is equally outraged by the unfairness of the system and the way it's always us lot seeing our traffic recorded, claiming: "Them; innocent until proven guilty - the rest of us; guilty until proven innocent. Why else are we ALL going to be under observation when most of us are guilty of nothing at all? One day we will wake up and wonder where our liberty went."

It's OK; details of where our liberty went will be recorded by Google, the government, the FBI and anyone else with a half-decent computer and reliable internet access.