Disquiet has spread in the UK after documents leaked by former American intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, revealed the alarming levels of detail information governments can have over people’s internet usage and mobile communications. Although Snowden’s documents were mainly about the US National Security Agency (NSA), it is believed that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has access to similar technology. Scott Fletcher, founder of internet firm ANS Group, believes that the vast majority of people should have nothing to worry about:” Sadly it is a fact of life that we all have to live with the threat of international terrorism,” says Fletcher.” These people are determined to attack our way of life and one of the most important weapons in their armoury is the internet. Terrorist cells do not operate in isolation and they rely on modern communication technology to gather information, talk to one another and garner support.” The leaked documents show that the programme gives government agencies ‘direct access’ to files from the servers of major companies such as Google and Facebook. Fletcher points out that this technology has been developed to help prevent terrorism and governments that neglect to use these tools will be held accountable if there is an attack which could have been prevented. Scott Fletcher adds:” The vast majority of us will have no interest to the security services and have nothing to fear about when it comes to an increase in surveillance. Of course, there needs to be checks and balances in place to protect people from overzealous government but surveillance is now a part and parcel of modern life.” The US Government has argued that the data mining operation is designed to spot and prevent terror plots.
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.