Thursday, 12 November 2015

Secrecy - it's time to open the curtains.

The World Wide Web was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. He wrote the first web browser in 1990 while employed at CERN in Switzerland.  A NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee as the world's first web server and also to write the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, in 1990. By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web:the first web browser (which was a web editor as well); the first web server; and the first web pages, which described the project itself. 

We embarked on an Age of Information, we entered an Age of Access to Information and we also started the unending Age of Trying to Protect Our Personal Information. No-one doubts that in many ways, the advent of the internet has been a powerful force for good. It has brought about benefits in education, in medical science, in raising awareness of natural disasters, in humanitarian crises and in everyday keeping in touch.  It gives us one-touch access to entertainment, instant news and weather updates, ways of communicating that just twenty-five years ago were pure science fiction.

Unfortunately, like all forces in the known universe (and in a Galaxy far, far, away) the WorldWideWeb has a dark side. A secret side. There exists a hidden, corrupt and encrypted Dark Web.  This is a murky, shadowy place, originally a place for storing case sensitive government information but it has grown exponentially to become the meeting and trading place for drug dealers, hackers, paedophiles, illegal arms dealers, assassins and terrorists.  This 'under-world web' is used as a one to one, private meeting space, by all the low-life scum of the earth, to convene and ply their despicable trades.

So the scene is set.  The wonderful innocent child, (www) is infiltrated by the evil alter-ego, The Dark Web. Enter the challengers.  The Police, GCHQ and The Security Services advise our Government that this new terror exists and threatens our family values, our National Security, our bank accounts, our personal information, in fact everything that a wholesome British subject holds dear.  The Government have to act - don't they?  We want them to protect us - don't we?

Enter the heroine - Teresa May (Home Secretary).  She wants to introduce a new law.  A law that will allow CGHQ, The Security Services (and sometimes the police), to look at the web activity of people suspected of endangering our way of life.  The Investigatory Powers Act, will throw open the curtains and allow the criminals who occupy the dark side of hyperspace to be brought to light. Mrs May has a long hard battle ahead. A battle with certain internet providers, who believe that strong encryption will be under threat if the bill becomes law and with idiots like Frankie Boyle who make comedic mileage out of the most serious issues of the day.  Oh yes, he can be funny. Not everything in life is a laughing matter.  

For me it is simple.  If you have nothing to hide, then why would you be afraid of scrutiny?  This is not a bill that threatens our freedom. On the contrary, those who oppose it do.  On a macro-level, the bill will be a big step towards preventing paedophile networks and trade in illicit goods, including; ivory; rhinoceros horn; exotic pelts and drugs.  It will help to stop the trafficking of human beings for the sex trade, prevent the murder of innocent holiday makers and curtail the actions of those who exploit the innocent, the poor and the vulnerable. 

On a micro-level it may prevent this..

              A whispered utterance in semi-darkness,
              an innocent face shares a sinister tryst. 
              "You mustn't tell, this is our little secret."
              A world of fear.
              A world of dread.
             No visions of sugarplums, tucked up in bed.
             Surely the most vile encryption
             is when those who can protect 
             choose not to listen.
Thanks for reading.  Adele


Steve Rowland said...

Thanks Adele. A most interesting and thought-provoking post and a very effective poem.