Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has slammed the UK government's plan to monitor and store all digital communications data, describing it as “technologically incompetent”.
Wales, who gave evidence to a parliamentary select committee on the bill on Wednesday, said that Wikipedia will encrypt all its connections with Britain if the government goes ahead with the proposals outlined in its draft Data Communications Bill, dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter”.
Under the proposed measures, internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile operators will be obliged to store details of all subscriber phone calls, emails, texts and websites visited for a year, in order to aid the police and intelligence services in their investigations.
Wales said that these measures would most likely prompt a general move to encryption across the internet, and ISPs would be forced to resort to the “black arts” of hacking to break the encryptions.
“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,” he told MPs and peers, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned that the government's plan to monitor citizens' use of the internet could result in Britain losing its reputation as an upholder of web freedom.
“In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of Bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that,” he told The Times.
Yesterday, Britain was placed third in the World Wide Web Foundation's first global Web Index, analysing the state of the web in 61 countries using indicators such as the political, economic and social impact of the web, connectivity and use.
If the Communications Data Bill makes it through parliament and becomes law, however, Britain will soon slip down the rankings, according to Berners-Lee.
“If the UK introduces draconian legislation that allows the government to block websites or to snoop on people, which decreases privacy, in future indexes they may find themselves farther down the list,” he said.
The government revealed in June that the cost of implementing the new Communications Data Bill will be up to £1.8 billion over 10 years. The amount includes the cost of reimbursing telecommunication service providers "for any costs of complying" with the legislation.