UK Public Likely Wary of Plan for 'Live' Digital Surveillance by Government - eMarketer
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UK Public Likely Wary of Plan for 'Live' Digital Surveillance by Government

Leaked scheme probably won’t lessen an already high level of concern about online privacy

May 8, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

The UK government is allegedly exploring a plan for near-live surveillance of UK digital communications, according to a document leaked to a digital rights watchdog group that may be a draft of such a plan. It’s a scheme unlikely to go over well in a country where surveys find a majority of internet users don’t trust the government to protect their digital privacy.

An apparent UK Home Office consultation document posted online last week by digital privacy and free speech group Open Rights Group outlines a plan that would allow the government to access UK internet users’ digital communications—including encrypted communications—within 24 hours under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA). Also known as the “snooper’s charter,” the IPA was created to aid UK law enforcement in anti-terror efforts and became law at the end of last year.

The Home Office, which is responsible for immigration, security, and law and order in the UK, had not publically commented on the document’s leak as of late Friday.

Recent studies show UK residents have little faith in most entities to safeguard their personal information. And this latest revelation isn’t likely to increase their trust.

Organizations/Entities that UK Consumers Trust with Their Personal Information, March 2016 (% of respondents)

A study conducted in October 2016 by Innofact for management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, found that 68% of UK respondents didn’t trust the UK government to protect their privacy, while only 6% fully did. Approximately 70% of respondents thought government could “easily access internet histories and most personal, health and financial data.”

Overall, when asked about their fears concerning their digital lives, privacy was respondents’ biggest concern, with 43% saying they were pessimistic about it. Unfortunately for those folks, the IPA and its powers won’t inspire much optimism.

A March 2016 survey of UK consumers ages 15 and older conducted by Communications Consumer Panel and Ipsos MORI found a similar lack of trust in the government.

Only about one-third of respondents trusted the government with their personal information—not exactly a vote of confidence.

Cliff Annicelli

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