Simon Davies, director of Privacy International
To imagine the year 2020, forget for a moment the cumbersome technology portrayed in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. If present trends continue, surveillance tools will be so seamlessly integrated in our environment that we won’t even notice the constant intrusion into our privacy.
Closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) may be the most obvious–and onerous–future intrusion. As is already the case in Britain (see p. 36), cameras will become a fixed component in the design of modern urban centres, new housing areas, public buildings and the road system (thanks to a massive network of linked number plate recognition cameras). Perhaps it is only a matter of time before legal and community pressures force the cameras into our homes.
As visual surveillance becomes ubiquitous, so will mass surveillance of Internet and telephone activity. American and European law enforcement agencies have already laid the foundations for a massive eavesdropping system capable of intercepting all mobile phones, Internet communications, fax messages and pagers throughout Europe. The plan, known as Enfopol 98, has been drawn up in secret by police and justice officials as part of a strategy to create a “seamless” web of telecommunications surveillance that will one day cross all national boundaries–touching citizens everywhere.
The strategy will oblige all ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and telephone networks to provide agencies with “real time, full time” access to all communications, regardless of the country of origin. All new communications media, including interactive cable television, will be required to do the same.
Enfopol will be aided by a subject-tagging system capable of continually tracking targeted individuals. Known as the “International User Requirements for Interception” (IUR), the system, which is currently being designed, will include not only the names, addresses and phone numbers of targets and associates, but email addresses, credit card details, PINs, passwords and even geographic data from mobile phones.