Privacy

Has the surveillance technology industry found another powerful ally?

Joe Bosso 9 Dec 2021

Surveillance and spying is not only taking place against enemies of the respective governments, but on citizens as well

It was announced recently that MI6, the UK’s secret intelligence service that you are familiar with if you’ve ever seen a James Bond movie, would begin partnering with technology companies to speed up their innovation and keep pace with Russian and Chinese rivals. After many tech startups left the UK because of Brexit, MI6 decided to start investing in startups in order to encourage them to operate within the UK. This investment program is known as the National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF) and is very similar to what the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has in the United States with its Venture Capital fund, In-Q-Tel.

The obvious takeaway here is that government agencies across the world are keen to leverage the most cutting-edge technology to conduct surveillance and spying operations. The surveillance and spying is not only taking place against enemies of the respective governments, but on the citizens as well. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, has spoken out against the facial recognition technology that is often used by government mass surveillance programs as there are a litany of privacy concerns associated with them.

Unfortunately, data protection and privacy legislation is often focused on protecting  individuals from private companies gathering data on them. And, depending on the jurisdiction, laws may not apply to government agencies or their technology partners, may contain some exemptions for surveillance or law enforcement purposes, or may be simply more difficult to enforce against surveillance or law enforcement agencies.

Since it is often more difficult for an individual to protect against government surveillance while remaining an active member of society, one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from government overreach like mass surveillance is to voice your concerns to your local politicians and support the ones who are willing to stand up for their fellow citizens civil liberties, namely the right to privacy. What’s more, investing in an all-in-one security suite that includes a VPN is a reliable way to protect your online privacy.

In today’s world, governments do need to remain vigilant to protect people from acts of terrorism or take drastic measures to protect against the Covid-19 pandemic. A big concern is that these governments will be reluctant to stop using technology to track and surveil their citizens when it is not absolutely necessary to do so in order to save lives. We have seen in some countries how mass surveillance can be easily abused to suppress political dissent and stifle free speech.


Further reading:
Canceling the cancel culture
The free speech triangle
What do security cameras know about you?