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UK Surveillance Concerns After Trump Win

November 14, 2016



Trump Surveillance

With Trump’s victorious campaign to become the next U.S. President has prompted the UK digital rights and freedom group ‘The Open Rights Group’ (ORG) to publicly express fears that UK citizens may now be the subject of greater surveillance.

Link With GCHQ.

A key concern and the foundation for the views expressed by the ORG seems to be the fact that the UK’s GCHQ has been shown (through evidence on WikiLeaks) to carry out work for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and that NSA operatives can access GCHQ surveillance programmes.

This could, in theory, mean that (based on the more controversial security views expressed by Mr Trump during his election campaign) he could potentially abuse his national security powers. But this could happen with any U.S. Presidential elect. We will just have to wait and see!

Integration Fears.

Another key concern expressed by the ORG are the effects of the integration of the NSA and GCHQ could have on the UK’s surveillance capabilities, and on the balance of power in the surveillance and intelligence relationship between the U.S and the UK.

It is generally accepted among security and technology experts that the UK relies heavily upon U.S. technology and data, as such the UK is the subservient partner. Furthermore, the integration of the NSA and GCHQ could mean that it would become incredibly difficult for the UK to separate its intelligence capabilities from those of the U.S. in future should it need/want to at any point.

With separation or staying together, there may also be implications for the UK as regards bulk data collection and surveillance. For example, ORG appears to perceive governments (the U.S. and UK) to prefer to carry out more bulk surveillance, and the UK would be more able (and arguably more likely) to do so with U.S. help and with Mr Trump at the helm.

Prime Minister For More Surveillance.

ORG has also spoken out publicly in the past about the implications of Theresa May being Prime Minister as far as her support for greater surveillance of UK citizens goes. For example, her support of the Investigatory Powers Bill (also known as the Snooper’s Charter) and her support for scrapping the Human Rights Act have attracted warnings from ORG.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

If greater surveillance by the UK alone or in combination with the U.S. can thwart terrorist attacks or cybercrime, this would, of course, benefit individuals and businesses alike. But we also know from articles on WikiLeaks that these surveillance powers can be abused.

Abuse of any powers is, however, a worry. So too is the possibility of the erosion of democracy and freedom of speech. However,  it is still too early to say exactly what path the President-elect Trump will take.

Digital freedom campaigners are warning that the replacement of the Human Rights Act with a weaker UK version, plus the wrong approach to Brexit could have negative implications for our rights as UK citizens, protection, e-privacy, net-neutrality and copyright.

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