Daft Communications Data Bill

Last chance to be heard.

Has the Home Office made it clear what it hopes to achieve through the draft Bill?

No, there seems to be several high level objectives along the lines of (National security, crime prevention and detection) but none seem to have detailed analysis into how this bill will specifically address these objectives.

Has the Government made a convincing case for the need for the new powers proposed in the draft Bill?

The bill adds a presumption to guilt onto every person in this country. No member of parliament would agree to have all of their physical mail or all of their face to face conversations monitored and recorded as it would be against their civil liberties. The same should be true of every form of communication. If there is suspicion of wrong doing then let the courts decide if monitoring is an adequate response instead of monitoring the majority of people who are doing nothing wrong.

It also presumes that the people who are communicating about things of interested be they criminal or of national importance won’t be encrypting the content or adjusting the details of what is being sent to who. It’s the same mentality as internet providers blocking direct access to piracy sites, this only stops people who wouldn’t be using them accessing them. Anyone who wants to use them knows how to access them via other means. In the same way this is only going to capture information on people who don’t want to be talking via secure means.

How do the proposals in the draft Bill fit within the wider landscape on intrusion into individuals’ privacy?

The bill is clearly highly intrusive. The vast majority of people do nothing wrong and yet you want to capture data on all of them. How can this be posed as a reasonable response to crime or national security.

Are there any alternative proposals with regard to the technique and cost of obtaining communications data that the Government could consider?

Yes, let the courts decide on a case by case basis what can be captured depending on the risk involved in the case.

The Home Office suggests the benefits that could be delivered by the enactment of the draft Bill could be worth between £56bn. Is this figure realistic?

Where is the evidence that supports this? The police can request access to this information at present so how is storing it for longer periods of time going to provide any form of positive financial benefit?

Safeguards:

Given the governments form on keeping data secure it is unlikely any amount of safeguards can make the bill worthwhile. There have also been a number of high profile failures of communication providers to properly secure information much of which has largely been leaked directly onto the internet by hacking groups. Has any analysis been put into the cost to the UK economy of all communication records being potentially publicly available?

Bring back Gordon Freeman

Now I’m not about to list the reasons for a new Half-Life version. I want Gordon back as a good example of why we don’t need to spend half a day customising the face of our game characters.

The amount of time and effort that goes into this customisation in terms of development, research and testing time is amazing. Especially when in some game you don’t actually get to see the efforts of the games developers cunning coding which lets the same smile spread across the tight lipped scrawny crone of a characters that I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes crafting.

Lets look at some examples.

Skyrim : Excellent game which admittedly I did manage to break by wondering away from the original choice between Rome or Viking (or whatever that was about) and instead became what I like to believe was a solder of fortune. Actually I was more like a unfortunate traveller who wonder the land getting dragged into various local problems. Before any of this fun started however I designed the face of my character. The eyes had to be steely, the jaw set just right and the hair colour had to be interesting yet unimposing. My character stayed with this look for approximately 20 minutes until I found some dwarvern helmet was found that completely encased my head. The rest of the game was spent with various tin cans on my head. Not that I’ve finished it. I can’t seem to bring myself to complete the last few side missions because then my character will just have to hang around in various palatial houses getting fat and old with nothing to do.

Fallout New Vegas : The start of the game very cunningly introduces you to your face by allowing you to customise it to ensure that a surgeon got his reconstruction correct. Ok so you have to wonder how you can change the entire colour of someone’s skin while reconstructing their face but lets run with it. So again 10 minutes of playing about just to see if I can create a face that speaks of both intelligence and hobo at the same time. After getting to a point where my character looks like a worried older version of Jonny Depp I give up and role with it. He’s at least going to be popular with the ladies even if they are the older ones. What do you get for your time and effort. You get the occasional view of the back of your characters head.

So I call on games designers across the world to stop and think about if people need the ability to customise their face.Think back to a time when you had a goatee beard and glasses and walked around in a Hazmat suit with nothing but a trusty crowbar. Or when you where a small fat plumber with a slightly obnoxious accent. Or when you where a white triangle on a sea of blackness clearing a path in an asteroid field of 10 penny dreams. Ok so the last two are a little rose tinted but the point still stands. Spend that development time on making the game all it can be rather than attempting to give the customer a 30 minute sub game that has no impact on anything in the game.