Don't Bring Out the GIMP

The government is once again bigging up the need for the proposed Interception Modernisation Programme (aka the GIMP) by arguing that it’s essential to collect and retain all social networking traffic in order to catch paedophiles.

This is one of the most spectacularly disproportionate schemes yet to be waved in front of the British public under the catch-all excuse of “think of the children”. There is no doubting that it’s essential to protect children online, and that any incident is to be prevented or investigated at any cost. But that does not justify the accumulation of spectacular amounts of data relating to every innocent Internet user, just to find the few that have malicious intent. The proposal is disproportionate from a privacy perspective, and could not possibly be as cost-effective as providing proper resourcing to the police in place of the token funding they currently receive.

I think we need to add a new rule to the Laws of the Bleedin’ Obvious: “Any surveillance system that has its construction justified for child protection reasons, whilst not delivering child protection as its sole objective, is not justifiable.” The short form of that rule (you may recall we simplify these for certain policy makers so that they can understand them) is “If you need to use kids as an excuse then give up and go home.”

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Toby if the Government really wants to solve the problem, a database is not the answer. They just need to make DNA sampling compulsory for all residents and get GPs to retrofit embedded RFID and 3G microphones to all patients. Probably be a lot cheaper. We need properly joined-up thinking not poorly conceived (but joined-up) databases. ColinB
The BBC today reports that social networking sites could be monitored "to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites". This suggests a few possibilities 1) They read and understood Toby's new Law of the Bleedin' Obvious and dropped the claim to use the data to help catch paedophiles 2) They wanted access to the social networking site communications data all the time and use whatever media story they can to justify it.