Home Blog Projects Contact Links

Christopher Hatton

Personal Portfolio

A Discussion of the Ugly State of the UK's (often non-existent) Legal System

05th November 2023

Christopher Hatton

With the passing of the Online Safety Bill, the average Brit has lost yet another basic human right. Privacy. What sort of dystopian world do we live in, where all entities are compelled by the government to bypass the courts, and directly give the authorities an exhaustive list of all personal and private information about you? The Online Safety Bill makes it completely and utterly impossible to be safe from indiscriminate eavesdropping without entirely detaching yourself from the digital world.

As put by the UK's very own Human Rights Act 1998, everyone has the right to liberty & security, and the right to a fair trial. Arguably, one's liberty is deprived from them when they are needlessly and excessively subjected to a massive breach of privacy, allowed by the Online Safety Bill. Where has the right to a fair trial gone? The authorities are now allowed to invade your private life, and inspect every little detail from your digital tracks. The authorities do not first need to visit a court for this; all they need to do is go through Ofcom. Going through Ofcom is a lot simpler for the authorities, but it also introduces bias and a lot less scrutiny when things inevitably go wrong.

The way in which the Online Safety Bill wants organisations to make the internet safer in fact make the internet a much more dangerous place. To comply with these regulations, all organisations will be unable to utilise encryption. Encryption is the key to keeping digital information safe, yet it has been made pretty much obsolete by these controlling regulations. When you enter a password, this password is usually encrypted. This means that the password cannot be read during transit, and cannot be read even by the people who look after it. Without this fundamental piece of technology, it will be easier for any organisation or individual to access any of your confidential information stored online.

How can I protect my privacy without breaking the law?

In my opinion, it has to be Nextcloud. You can host Nextcloud yourself, and you are in control of all your data, not a third party. The authorities will need to go through court in order to access your information on Nextcloud, as it is hosted by you, and not a third party. This is quite clearly more respecting of your privacy.

Don't worry about losing the apps and services you're used to though - Nextcloud is decentralised and federated. This allows you to interact with other people just as you would with traditional apps, such as WhatsApp or OneDrive.

Unfortunately, the one thing Nextcloud doesn't offer is email. Paying for your email is much better than using free email is best, as paying reduces incentives to sell your data, or give in to foreign entities. I'd recommend Proton Mail.

"Which means that if you’re reading this now—this sentence—on any sort of modern machine, like a smartphone or tablet, they can follow along and read you." - Edward Snowden