The Draft Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snoopers’ Charter has been proposed by the Conservative Party following the recent general election. The party claim that the bill will aim to “provide the police and intelligence agencies with the tools to keep you and your family safe” from terrorism and other threats to our wellbeing. However, it will mean that absolutely everything that you do and every move that you make on the internet, both at home and at work, could be accessed by police and government agencies as and when required. But how could this affect your business?
Firstly, the scheme means that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will be required to hold the information about your internet activity. This means that people that you don’t want monitoring your actions, aside from the government, might be able to view what you have been doing. The best case scenario would be that your employees could see the sites you have visited, but a worse result might be hackers. Of course, if a hacker gains access to your ISP, they would be able to learn a lot about your life just from the websites that you visit such as: who you bank with, where you shop and any journeys or tips you may make. What’s more, if you store client data on an online platform, system or database, hackers could also access this.
However, according to a recent study carried out in the United States, has proved ineffective at helping cases overall, having made a difference to 1.8 percent of cases, at most. This means that, overall, this storing of mass metadata (the information that the government wishes to collect) is not worth the money that is spent on it.
If you presume that no one would be interested in monitoring your online activity, you could be wrong. Over the past two years, the police have made over 700,000 requests for personal metadata (such as text messages, emails and phonecalls) and every two minutes, a request has been granted. It is predicted that, with the Snoopers’ Charter, the number of such requests will continue to increase and the government is already building profiles of people and their online habits.
Whilst there is not a lot you can do to prevent the government from monitoring your online activity, you can take measures to reduce the risk of hackers gaining access to such information. Ensure that online chat rooms and videos are encrypted at both ends. You should also ensure that all security codes and passwords for websites are known by only those who need to use them and that they are changed as regularly as is practical. In terms of general web use, a virtual private network (VPN) will encrypt information from the point of your computer to the point at which it leaves the network, making it difficult for snoopers to find its origin.
In order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is best to treat any data you deal with or create on the internet, as if it is being read by any one- even when you think it is a private email.
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