A political war between leading ISPs and the government is brewing following the imminent formalisation and tabling of the snooper’s charter. On one hand, the government, buoyed by the need to increase the level of public surveillance, has pressed on with its efforts of making sure that the draft laws are enforced into law. On the other hand, leading ISPs, such as Google, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), have loudly criticized the proposed laws and even vowed to oppose them.
The draft laws are not bad after all. The essence of the laws is that when they get enforced, they will make it mandatory for ISPs to keep the data of their users for a period of about 12 months. The companies will have to maintain all the emails that users send and receive, the data that is related to the blogging activities of users and anything else that individuals do when online. This is supposed to help the government to monitor any criminal elements operating in the cyberspace and effectively pre-empt any terrorist attack, given that many terrorist organizations are now using the cyberspace to plan and coordinate their terror attacks.
Interestingly, many leading ISPs, which are mostly American, think that the introduction of the laws would amount to mass surveillance of individuals. They believe that allowing the government to spy on all its citizens at any time that it feels like doing so should be allowed in the this age.
What the companies fail to understand is that their success has been established on the foundation of social and political stability. It has been as a result of the existence of social order that the companies have managed to do their business uninterrupted over the decades. However, the rise of terrorism has made it necessary for governments across the world to re-evaluate their privacy laws, among others. If governments do not do this, then terrorism will flourish and it will simply destroy the social fabric that has made it necessary for the likes of Google and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to succeed over the years as corporations.
It is this duplicity in the argument of the ISPs against the draft laws that the government needs to confront. The only way of doing so is showing that when the companies take a strong position against the issue, the message that they are sending to the world is that they hardly care for the interests of the general public, as long as their own interests have been taken care of.