By now, lots of people have heard about the draconian anti-privacy measures in play in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister David Cameron has announced these potential new laws while talking about a sea of change in British government — basically, his quotes show that his administration is poised to peer more closely into the lives of the average Briton, ratcheting up fines and penalties for those who protest, advocate for dissidents, or otherwise, in the mind of the administration, ‘invoke chaos.’
The new measures would do several things — among them is the idea that law enforcement would be able to more freely monitor e-mails, instant messaging sessions, Web use, phone calls and text messaging. A lot of this data will be retained, and law enforcement will have the authority to close down certain venues, online or otherwise, that are perceived to be dangerous to the government’s goals and objectives. If all of this sounds to you like the pinnacle of Orwellian big Brother overreach, you are not alone, and some of the most prominent advocates for a free Internet are not taking all of this lying down.
Tim Berners-Lee Speaks Out
Decades ago, Tim Berners-Lee was integral in the construction of the early infrastructure that made the global Internet what it is today, and is popularly known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee went on to a top leadership role at the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C that helps to create standards for the web and otherwise monitor its global use.
Recently, Berners-Lee has been speaking out against what many call the U.K. Conservative Party’s “snoopers charter,” and how it infringes on Internet rights.
In addressing what the Internet really should look like, Berners-Lee outlines five points at the center of a campaign called Web We Want that’s trying to protect the original values of this new broadcast medium. Two of these five objectives seem to fly in the face of what the U.K. government is now trying to establish — the Web We Want campaign demands freedom of expression for individuals both online and off-line, as well as protection of user data and privacy. Other Web We Want objectives include affordable Internet access, a decentralized and open Internet, and, last but not least, net neutrality. Make sure to follow #WeWantWebFest to keep up with the latest updates
Net neutrality advocates are vigilant about preventing a system where big companies and wealthy parties start to be able to change the level playing field that now exists on the Internet. Already, there are plans to restrict bandwidth according to who’s paying for content, and provide a corporate fast track for the delivery of Web services. Berners-Lee and other net neutrality advocates are working hard to keep a lid on changes that will work against the common good, and for special interests.
In the context of all this fuss, more people are turning to individual privacy measures online. Privacy advocates are often recommending the use of a VPN in the UK, or some type of web anonymity tool, just to send a message and stand on the principle that is opposed to more government regulation, more law enforcement eavesdropping, and less of the civil liberties that we now enjoy. VPNs are a practical way to protect Internet activity, but they’re also becoming a symbol of a population that’s not cowed by predatory government activities that those such as Cameron are trying to cloak in sheep’s clothing.
If you’re worried about your own privacy in the UK, then check out our top picks of VPNs for your country.