Donald Trump’s successful bid 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
One of the key concerns and the foundation for the views expressed by the ORG appears to be the fact that the UK’s GCHQ has been shown (through evidence from 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 Trump during his election campaign) he could potentially abuse his national security powers.
Another key concern expressed by the ORG is which effects 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 commentators that the UK depends heavily upon U.S. technology and data, and as such 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/have 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 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 championing of the Investigatory Powers Bill (also known as the Snooper’s Charter) and her support for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act have attracted warnings of the implications 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.
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.