Target: Prime Minister David Cameron
Goal: Provide answers for and discontinue recent wide-scale and invasive data surveillance
Evidence has recently come to light that the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been responsible for intercepting and collecting vast amounts of data from unwitting internet and phone users in both the U.K. and abroad. The government has not been forthcoming on the scale or nature of the collection, despite the serious breach in both ethics and international etiquette that it poses. This type of wide-scale, unexplained surveillance of civilian communications is unacceptable, and must be explained and ceased.
The interception, which began in 2011, involved the tapping of over 200 fiber-optic cables linking the U.K. to the internet at large, through which communications from both Europe at large and North America flowed. It is believed that this information has also been shared with the United States National Security Agency (NSA), itself under public scrutiny for questionable surveillance. The information intercepted would allow GCHQ and NSA agents to pinpoint the identity and locations of users conducting searches of interest to them without consent, and regardless of whether or not said user was suspected of criminal activity.
Although this type of wide-scale supervision is legal under U.K. law, other nations have called it into question. However, the U.K.’s foreign secretary has refused to answer for this breach in civilian privacy, declining to comment when Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of Germany confronted him regarding the surveillance. A recent U.N. report, although not addressing this or the NSA’s breaches specifically, has stated the danger that civilian communications interception poses to a democratic society.
It is the responsibility of the British government to explain the scope and reasoning of this wide-scale data interception, both to its own citizens and those of other nations. Furthermore, legislation should be put into place limiting the power of the GCHQ to perform interceptions of civilian data in the future, barring exceptional circumstances.
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron,
The Government Communications Headquarters has recently been implicated in wide-scale data interception from civilians both within the U.K. and without. While technically legal, this violation of civilian privacy is deeply unethical, particularly considering that it involved sharing this information with the U.S. National Security Agency.
Government transparency is an essential part of any democratic society. It is vital that the GCHQ reveal both the extent and purpose of this widespread interception if the U.K. is going to retain its credibility as a defender of privacy rights.
[Your name here]
Image Credit to the GCHQ via Wikimedia Commons