Surveillance: A special report

The government could soon have broad powers to monitor your Internet activities. ZDNN UK takes you behind the debate.

Do you use the Net and wonder if what you are doing, or saying, even in private emails, are being inspected by hidden eyes? Do you worry about it?

Today ZDNet UK News launches "Surveillance", a News Special that examines the reasoning behind government plans to snoop on our electronic communications. It probes leading industry experts and asks what are the true motives behind the plans, which could be in place as early as next year.

The government and police say access to communications is necessary in the fight against crime and terrorism, privacy groups claim it is a breach of civil liberties. Even the Home Office concedes "intrusive activity cannot respect an individual's privacy."

Jane Wakefield and Will Knight look at the technology, the rows and the secrets behind one of the most controversial steps a British government has taken this digital age.

Surveillance is a huge topic so there's a lot to read. For an easy to digest overview, with links to the stories, read on:

An overview:

Via the e-communications bill -- formerly the e-commerce bill -- and the Interception of Communications Act (IOCA) the government plans to keep tabs on us online. These two bills are at the heart of the argument over surveillance in Britain.

Neither bill is yet law but the government plans to push them through in this parliamentary session. If you want to know the details of these plans, click here to find out what is really going on in the corridors of power.

See: Government plans e-surveillance

Home Secretary Jack Straw will get a wake-up call on the e-communications bill this morning -- and civil liberties organisation Stand hope it will be the police knocking at his door. In a stunt designed to illustrate how the proposed legislation reverses the burden of proof, Stand wants to persuade the government to rethink its plans. Read what Stand is saying.

See: Straw petitioned on commerce bill controversy

And: An open letter to Jack Straw

According to lawyers, both the e-communications bill and IOCA contravene the European Convention on Human Rights. The government denies this but concedes that interception interferes with privacy. Privacy advocates argue that because government snooping goes on in secret, no one can question what is happening.

See: Is e-privacy a human right?

The police claim they need interception powers to fight crime but privacy experts think they are taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. As a police officer and privacy advocate battle it out it becomes clear the police are not fully aware of the extent of the powers being proposed as another agenda emerges.

See: Privacy versus policework -- the debate

Employers are increasingly turning to technology to keep an eye on us at work. Is surfing the Internet being used as an excuse for sacking people? ZDNet finds a worrying precedent is being set by recent sacked-for-surfing cases.

See: How your boss is watching you

And: Net surfing could get you sacked

And finally for all those without a PhD in encryption, ZDNet News guides you through the minefield of encryption and decryption technologies. And if, having read all these articles, you are feeling a little paranoid, take comfort. Encryption is the enemy of surveillance so if you want some privacy, use it.

See: How encryption works

Take me to Surveillance.

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