U.K. government plans to monitor online social networks

Published 26 March 2009

For the last three years, intelligence services in the United States and the United Kingdom have been examining the idea of keeping a close tab on communications made among members of social networks; the U.K. Home Office denies having plans for such monitoring, but critics are not convinced

It was revealed at the U.K.’s parliament the other day that the government may start recording who-contacts-who online. We note that in the summer of 2005, Paul Marks reported on research part-funded by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) into how it could monitor social networking sites to “join the dots” among criminal and terrorist groups. 

Marks now reports that U.K. and U.S. news sources have taken a dim view of the latest proposals which would see government databases record online activity such as which Web sites you browse, whom you e-mail, who are your “friend” on social networks, or whom you call on services like Skype. One objection is that the software and hardware used would often have to analyze the content of messages, even if the intention is to only record who contacted who. 

A spokesperson for the U.K. home office told marks: “We have been very clear that here are no plans for a database containing the content of e-mails, texts, conversations or social networking sites.” 

Marks’s comment: “That’s an assurance I don’t think will convince everyone their privacy is being respected.”