Wikipedia founder Wales slams UK ‘snooper charter’ as unenforcable

6 Sep 2012

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Legislation tabled by the UK government that will allow security forces to spy on every citizen’s (or subject’s) form of digital communication has been described by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales as technically incompetent and he has threatened to encrypt every connection between the online encyclopedia and Britain.

ISPs including Vodafone and Virgin Media have raised concerns about legislation that will require them to retain and store sensitive data from overseas third-party companies.

According to The Guardian, organisations like the London Internet Exchange (Linx) have warned that the stg£1.8bn scheme will require UK-based internet and phone companies to retain traffic data for 12 months, but won’t include the content of the messages.

While the UK Home Office can’t force companies like Facebook and Google to store and hand over sensitive data, it hopes for voluntary agreements.

Addressing MPs and peers yesterday, Wales was scathing of the plan and said security forces would end up having to hack into encrypted data to access sensitive, private information.

“It is not the sort of thing I’d expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry,” Wales said.

He said he was confident there would be a general move to encryption across the internet if UK ISPs were required to collect and store such data for 12 months.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years