With all the mud slinging between Apple and the FBI at the moment, privacy has never been so public. While it’s clearly got many tech companies’ backs up, the fact remains – the British public doesn’t seem that bothered. A survey carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Comparitech.com, a pro-consumer privacy and security resource for guidance and reviews, showed that 77% of the British public thought that the Government should be able to intercept communications when it came to terrorism. And 60% of the population were in favour of mass communications being monitored by the Government in the interest of national security. Out of that 60%, a staggering 49% agreed with the sentiment that national security was more important than a person’s individual rights.
Rik Turner, a senior analyst with Ovum said that the results confirm that perhaps the British public is more comfortable with being spied on by its own government than the likes of the US or Germany. “Leaving aside the historical and cultural explanations for this, the fact is that it puts “UK gov” in a better position to act against terror threats than many of its counterparts and, as such, means we should demand higher levels of efficacy from it in the war on terror,” he said. “If the public is prepared to sacrifice its privacy in the name of protection from terrorism, the government can’t blame privacy laws for failing to detect a threat.”
However, Amar Singh, chair of ISACA UK security advisory group, thinks that the results are worrying, particularly when “so many are willing to sacrifice their civil liberties and privacy for claims of protection. Let’s not forget that no government has a stellar record in protecting its own information; and if technologies are updated to allow “free access” for the government, then criminals will no doubt be able to obtain the same,” he continued.
Richard Patterson, Director of Comparitech.com concluded, “While we wait to see the final outcomes of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill here in the UK, and who will be victorious between the FBI and Apple, what is clear is that individuals need to understand that using electronic communications comes with provisos. On the one hand, laws designed to protect civil liberties shouldn’t then be used to provide a safe haven for those compelled to breach them and on the other, consumers shouldn’t have to give up their rights to privacy. It’s a thorny subject, with many grey areas, making clarity a necessity.”
For those concerned about snoops and criminals accessing private information via their mobile devices, Comparitech.com has put together a guide on how to protect your privacy on smartphones