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England Seems to Think Snooping to Stop ‘Cyberbulling’ Is Actually a Selling Point

Some might find this argument in favor of expanded surveillance a bit underwhelming.

"You've got nothing to fear, unless you've ever been rude to anybody on the Internet and that's hardly anybody, right?"Credit: UK Home Office / photo on flickrI suppose we should give the Brits points for honesty, maybe? In America, authorities have insisted that federal surveillance of Americans was solely for the purpose of stopping potential terror threats. It's a complete lie, we've come to realize. Federal and local law enforcement officials have been using various tracking and surveillance tools for the purpose of domestic crime-fighting and have been keeping it a secret from courts and defendants to the point of even dropping cases rather than having to reveal the truth.

In England, though, they're being completely clear that they intend to potentially use expanded surveillance authorities for more than just fighting terror. The United Kingdom is considering the Investigatory Powers Bill, which would authorize the bulk collection of Internet users' communications data and require Internet Service Providers to maintain and provide data for law enforcement officials, without a warrant, and would require U.K.-based companies to allow the government to bypass encryption.

British media outlet The Times (paywalled) discovered over the holidays that the government hopes to use this vast new power to fight not just actual threats of violence, but "cyberbullying." And apparently the British government seems to think this is a selling point for the law. Techradar lays it out:

The new spying laws outlined in the Investigatory Powers Bill will let police track down and unmask anonymous online trolls with the help of internet service providers, which will be forced to keep a record of connections made by individuals.

The revelation was made in a letter written by UK Home Secretary Theresa May in response to a question from MP James Cartlidge, obtained by The Times.

"Interned connection records would update the capability of law enforcement in a criminal investigation to determine the sender and recipient of a communication," said May, "for example, a malicious message such as those exchanged in cyberbullying."

While May's remarks put a more positive spin on the bill, it's unlikely to give opponents a change of heart. The bill will still be opening up the UK to mass surveillance, with ISPs logging internet records of all users.

Two countries separated by a common language and all that. "No, we will actually use this law to snoop on our own citizens and charge them with domestic crimes. Isn't that great?" The use is justified by Cartlidge because "cyberbullying" causes "nasty, psychological attacks that particularly affect young people."

The Independent notes that similar surveillance authorities passed by China garnered international outrage, while for England, we have Apple warning that the law would endanger the privacy and security of the citizenry.

Oh, and it goes without saying, this doesn't mean that the citizenry could get the same access to the history of their public officials' online behavior.

Photo Credit: UK Home Office / photo on flickr

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  • Sevo||

    "No, we will actually use this law to snoop on our own citizens and charge them with domestic crimes. Isn't that great?"

    But wait! There's MORE! We'll criminalize certain speech and YOU won't know what that is until you 'speak' it!

  • Brochettaward||

    It goes deeper than even that. This is impossible to enforce on a wide scale so the law can only be used selectively. It is a law, but one that can only encourage the rule of man. When you pass so many shitty laws that no bureaucracy can possibly enforce them, and when everyone is guilty of breaking some petty rule...the rule of law ceases to exist.

  • Quixote||

    This is, in fact, much-needed legislation and we should rapidly expand our own government's surveillance powers too, so we can clamp down on some of the dangerous trolls who have been using offensive "parody" to stir up unwanted controversy on our great university campuses. Let's find more of those menacing criminals and put them in jail where they belong. See the documentation of America's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • ||

    England is lost.

  • Drake||

    England is just a fading old dream.

  • Rhywun||

    Green & pleasant land my ass.

  • Jerryskids||

    I read a couple of the articles about China passing laws to keep an eye on "terrorists" with the plain slant that what China was doing was just plain wrong because we all know that what China means by "terrorists" is "anybody that criticizes the Chinese government", and yet everything they were doing seemed no different than what our own government is doing. Can people really be so blindly ignorant as to believe the only problem with the Chinese government having that much power is the fact that it's the Chinese government and that our own government can be trusted with that kind of power because it's our own? Does it not make a difference whether our government is headed by Hillary Clinton or Rick Santorum, Larry Flynt or Jerry Falwell? It reminds me of how in the latter days of the 2012 campaign when it looked like Romney would win and Obama suddenly got real damn interested in drawing up some strict legal guidelines for how much the President could conduct foreign policy via dronestrike but then when the threat of a Romney administration passed it seems the Presidential dronestrike program needed no oversight after all.

  • Idle Hands||

    Can people really be so blindly ignorant as to believe the only problem with the Chinese government having that much power is the fact that it's the Chinese government and that our own government can be trusted with that kind of power because it's our own?

    Yes.

  • d3x / dt3||

    "...plain slant..."

    RACIST!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Can someone please explain to me exactly what the fuck "cyberbullying" even is?

  • Citizen X||

    It is sort of like this (featuring Warty and his robot friend).

    Or you could ask Niketh Velamoor. He seems to have some interesting ideas about the subject.

  • R C Dean||

    Saying mean things on the internet.

    The bill will still be opening up the UK to mass surveillance

    That horse left the barn a long time ago.

  • Rhywun||

    AKA "juvenile bluster". Here we just ominous threats. There it will likely be a gaol sentence.

  • MokFarin||

    You made someone feel bad. On the internet. You monster.

    But don't worry. Soon scum like you will be locked away for life so that no one is even offended again. Adversity must be done away with, despite it being a core concept of the development of humanity over the last million years or so.

    (Also, sarcasm.)

  • Chip Woodier||

  • sarcasmic||

    Can someone please explain to me exactly what the fuck "cyberbullying" even is?

    Have you ever confronted a moron on the internet and pointed out to them that they are a moron and explained to them why they are a moron?

    If so, then you are guilty of cyberbullying.

  • CZmacure||

    I don't know what it is, but it's been superseded as a fear-mongering term by "Cyber-Violence" ... which is just as incoherent a formulation as it sounds.

    http://time.com/4049106/un-cyb.....-violence/

    The specific report in question has been discredited because it contains materials sourced from, among other places, Lyndon Larouchies... really too rich.

  • Rhywun||

    "cyber touch is recognized as equally as harmful as physical touch"

    Cyber bollocks.

  • Grumpy Old Timer||

    This is what happens once the populace is disarmed and cannot fight back. The whores, liars and elites (sorry for the redundancy) decide what is and what isn't permitted with no agreement of the citizens required.
    The west is doomed as it follows Rome's path.
    Enjoy.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    They will breed a nation so repressed that it will soon burst its seams and boil over in unrestrained actual violence. You can't keep people cooped up mentally and expect sanity to result any more than you can coop them up physically.

  • Adans smith||

    First off,in the good old U.S,A it's all about the drug war. I wonder though,when did the English become such pussys?I guess that's true here also,I was bullied as a kid,in a real physical way. learned to box and took ti quan do.That solved my problems.

  • R C Dean||

    I wonder though,when did the English become such pussys

    In all honesty, I think it was the trauma of the two World Wars.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Thanks folks. So in other words it means absolutely nothing and absolutely everything. Christ, people with even a little bit of power really do suck.

  • ubik||

    Was born in the UK but am now a US citizen.

    None of this surprises me in the slightest.

    At this time just ponder and appreciate the thinkers and writers behind the Bill of Rights, particularly the first and second.
    If these had not been stated explicitly, given current attitudes, the US would be in exactly the same position. Not that the present situation is exactly wonderful.

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