As we read in today’s press, that GCHQ’s ability to be able to monitor internet traffic is being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, and that this action, in part, stems from some of the information which was leaked by Mr Edward Snowden.
Before I continue, I should point out that in the late 90’s, I had the honour and privilege of having one of the highest security clearances in NATO, whilst I was serving in the armed forces.
I say ‘honour‘ and ‘privilege‘ because being trusted with the information which I had access to was, for me, a true honour and a true privilege. Although, I must admit, knowing about the many different groups of people (and nations) who wanted to bring death and destruction to the world became quite depressing after a while.
I have never, and would never, disclose nor divulge the information which I was privy to. Even though my security clearance was in force nearly 18 years ago, I would not even entertain discussing with anyone the intelligence/information which was being fed through the Head Quarters where I had the honour of serving with some truly dedicated men and women.
Whenever I read about people’s efforts to try and disrupt and/or hinder the work of our amazing intelligence services and Agencies, it fills me with despair.
It makes me think; do the people who try to stop, hinder or disrupt the work of organisations such as GCHQ really believe that there is not a need to be on-guard against the threat which we all face?
The security services do not care if you watch adult porn (between two, or more, consenting adults) online. They do not care that you have been searching the internet for 3ft dildos. They do not care that you have been messaging someone on the other side of the planet, in the hope that the same person you have been messaging, will perhaps one-day move to the UK and marry you.
What they do care about, is hunting down the individuals behind the next terror attack. They do care about understanding where the next threat to the UK is coming from (Cyber, physical, financial or otherwise), how to stop it, and how to prevent future attacks.
I think that part of the problem here, is that some people believe there are thousands of Intelligence Analysts who spend all day, physically reading the billions of emails which are sent by millions of people each week. I think that the same people have visions of legions of men and woman sitting in a huge room individually opening BILLIONS of emails.
Its funny right? But only if it wasn’t true… The thing is, unless your communication fits a certain set of parameters in relation to, for example, terrorist activity, then your dodgy email with its dodgy attachments will fly at the speed of light down the transatlantic fibre optic cable, completely unhindered.
My point here, is that unless you are intent on bringing misery, pain and suffering to our streets, or unless you are intent on committing a crime, then you should not be worried about highly advanced computer algorithms scanning billions of bytes of data, constantly on the search for the evil which we all know really does exist.
We should not worry that our browsing history COULD be stored on a secure computer somewhere, unless, of course, we are worried that such browsing history could make us fall foul of the Law. In which case, you probably shouldn’t really be doing whatever it is that you are doing anyway!
It seems that the main ‘argument’ against the work which the security services do, and/or the manner in which they do it, is something along the lines of it: “violates the fundamental rights of individuals across the world…” And/or: “They are incompatible with open and democratic societies.” Really? well, hindering the efforts of our Security Services whilst they try to keep us safe, IS compatible with aiding they who wish to cause us harm.
And also, which individuals are having their rights violated? Which rights are they referring to? The ‘right’ to be able to commit crime maybe? As I have said above, unless you are sinister in your desires or evil in your intent, then you have nothing to worry about. And the sinister people amongst us, need to be found.
We already know that evil does exist and that there are groups of people who think that we, our family and our friends, should die just because we do not share the same views as them.
So, what is more important: that you and your family should be able to walk the streets without the prospect of being murdered and that your children should be safe from individuals like the disgusting & vile paedophiles who trawl the internet, or the fact that a very small group of individuals do not like the fact that an array of extremely sophisticated computer programmes are silently operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, trying to safeguard our right to live our lives in peace?
I am not sure about you, but I know what I would prefer. We must not try to stop the work of they who are trying to keep us safe. We must instead try to find those who wish us, or our family, harm.
I am happy for my emails/browsing history to be monitored, because I have nothing to hide, and I am not naive enough to think that my preference for being ‘incognito’ should outweigh the efforts of our intelligence agencies to keep us all safe.
After all, that is one of the reason why we pay (in part) our taxes.