Do Internet Privacy Regulations Need to be Updated?

December 9, 2013 in News by bbadmin

Reform Government Surveillance Group has

Once again internet privacy has hit the headlines, with eight of the world’s leading technology firms calling for a reform of the current regulations.  Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo have united to petition the US Government.

Their Reform Government Surveillance Group has drafted a letter in which they recognise the need for governments to gather information, but they say: ”The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our Constitution”

While the number of requests is a concern, the companies would also like to be able to publish more precise figures to help alleviate the concerns of customers and internet users in general. Currently they are only allowed to publish very wide bandwidths, which are about as useful as not publishing the information at all.

Publishing Requests for Information

Many people are willing to sacrifice a degree of online privacy if it means increased security. However there may be a limit to what people are willing to accept. The threat of terrorism has perhaps helped Governments use our fears to increase surveillance, but as that threat diminishes more and more people will want to preserve their liberty.

Over the last decade the internet has grown into virtually every aspect of our lives. Whole industries have formed around it. So what will happen if people lose faith in it? It seems almost unthinkable, but there could come a time when paranoia of government surveillance drives people away from the internet. If this does happen then the economic effects could be disastrous.

Changing the regulations around internet privacy may help to restore trust, but this is not guaranteed. Many people believe (and probably rightly so) that Governments will continue to collect the information illegally anyway.

Move the Internet Out of America

The vast majority of requests for information have come from the US Government. This may only be the tip of the ice berg, with various scandals surfacing about their role in spying on internet communications and even ally governments. So should internet infrastructure be moved into a more trustworthy and transparent country?

During a meeting in Uruguay in October some of the largest internet governance groups, including the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), came together to express their concerns over internet privacy. Moving ICANN out of the US could help to preserve privacy and free expression.