Data snooping only catches ‘incompetent criminals, accidental anarchists’

British Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told a committee of MPs and peers last Tuesday that the draft Communications Data Bill as it stands would only put a stop to “the incompetent criminal and the accidental anarchist”. This proposed bill would give British law enforcement and secret service more access to telecoms data.

It’s good to hear someone who knows what they are talking about speaking up. Data snooping is ineffective when it comes to monitoring or detecting dedicated criminals, terrorists and other undesirables. I have often written about my concerns about widespread monitoring because it criminalises ordinary citizens, while the real perpetrators can easily avoid detection by using VPN services, encryption, TOR, pre-paid GSM phones and other tools and practices that make them extremely hard to track. Those caught in the dragnet are indeed incompetent criminals and people who are simply interested in something. Nationwide dragnets will not help catch hardened criminals or real terrorists. Instead, they will violate the privacy of entire nations.