UK to Monitor Email, Web and Phone Traffic

April 17, 2012

If you’re using the USENET system in the UK, you can anticipate that there may be other eyes watching what you’re doing and who you’re talking to on the service. According to a report in ZDNet, the UK intelligence agency GCHQ will soon be monitoring this traffic. It still requires that they get a warrant, but the intelligence agency can now force ISPs to provide real time data of what their subscribers are doing. The traffic passing over the ISP routers will be mirrored for the intelligence service upon request.

Why the Monitoring?

According to officials, the monitoring is being done because of the need to keep tabs on terrorists and criminals, constituting the usual justification for monitoring Internet traffic. Users in the UK may already expect to be monitored by corporate interest groups for the entertainment industry so that those groups can fight against piracy. The end result is that, more and more, privacy on the Internet is more of a goal than a reality. It can be accomplished, but it takes the right technology.

Privacy on the USENET

The USENET system can be accessed securely, as can the rest of the web. To conceal the traffic that’s going to and from any given server, you can use a VPN. A VPN will encrypt that traffic and make sure that anyone monitoring it doesn’t get to see the content of what’s being transferred. Check out for a nice list of VPN providers .The VPN will also prevent an observer from being able to determine where the traffic is headed and from where it’s coming, providing a layer of security.

Some USENET providers also use SSL connections to encrypt their content, as well. Used in conjunction with a VPN, this provides very good security. It’s exceptionally difficult and time consuming to get around computer encryption—even if you have supercomputers to handle the job—and anyone wanting to get at your data would have to have the key to monitor it in real time.

For UK users who want to make sure that their privacy is protected, using a VPN and SSL connections for USENET seems to be the only realistic solution. It used to be that technological limitations made it exceptionally difficult for government agencies to monitor any volume of traffic. Fortunately, as their access to technology has improved, so has the access to security technology, including VPNs, that’s available to users on the Internet, helping to preserve privacy.


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