On 30 January, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014 (DRIPA), which made way for the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 (IPA), did not restrict the access of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to investigations of serious crime. The IPA means that Internet service providers must now store details of everything we do online for twelve months and render it accessible to dozens of public bodies.
This data can be virtually everything, from browsing records to personal information on private citizens, to include but not limited to: search engine activity, every phone call to text message plus geographical location, private financial and credit repair services, personal correspondence, medical records, and data from banking, insurance, and investment services which is stored on computers and mobile telephones. This law obliges technology companies to hand over the data that they have about private citizens to intelligence agencies and it can force tech companies like Apple to remove encryption, ultimately weakening the security of their own products in total secrecy.
The ability of the government to spy on private citizens’ includes the encroachment upon the fundamental rights of privacy in financial matters, such that a “super-spy search engine” has become part of the arsenal that the Home Office is accused of hosting. What does surveillance mean in an era where financial information needs to be safeguarded and when economic interests such as crypto robots and cryptocurrencies could face government spying?
Let’s step back to 2004, when philosopher Giorgio Agamben refused to submit passport biodata in 2004 in the United States when he famously rescinded his appointment to lecture at New York University. Resisting the submission of fingerprints required to enter
the United States as a foreign visitor, Agamben’s actions then foreshadowed what he would later address in his 2013 Athens lecture:
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