UK Government Will Monitor Internet and Mobile Use

April 24, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. monitor (v.) 
[mon-i-ter]   to observe an activity without interrupting it
Example:   Government monitors phone calls to keep the public safe.

2. intelligence agency (n.) [in-tel-i-juhns][ey-juhn-see] – a government department that gets information for the purpose of lawmaking or peace keeping
Example: The intelligence agency found information about the location of the terrorists.

3. warrant (n.)  [wawr-uhnt, wor-]  – an official document that allows someone to do a certain action
Example: The police presented a warrant to search the house.

4. surveillance (n.) [ser-vey-luhns, -veyl-yuhns] – the act of closely observing a person or a group
Example: The store is under surveillance to prevent theft.

5. execution (n.)  [ek-si-kyoo-shuhn]  – the act of putting a plan or decision into action
ExampleExecution of the new laws will be done next month.

Read the text below.

A new law may soon allow the UK government to monitor people’s mobile phone and Internet activities.

The law will require communications companies to give the UK’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, real-time access to data from calls, texts and e-mails. The agency will also be able to learn which websites people visit.

Intelligence officers will be able to identify who a person or group is in contact with, how often communication happens, and for how long people communicate with each other. To learn the actual content of a message, however, a warrant is still needed.

According to the Home Office, the department responsible for UK security, the new law will ensure that communications data stay available even as technology continues to change. These data could then help in solving crime and monitoring terrorism activity.

However, freedom rights groups are against the law, because it challenges people’s right to privacy. Under the new law, the government can access not only criminal and terrorist activities, but personal activities of ordinary people as well.

Nick Pickles, director of the group Big Brother Watch, says there is no assurance that this surveillance strategy can really improve public safety. He says the law’s execution will also add huge costs to Internet businesses.

But before the law becomes final, it still needs approval from the Parliament. Officials have already tried making similar laws in the past, but were unsuccessful because their suggestions were met with anger and concern from opposing groups.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How can the Internet and mobile technology be used for harm?
·         What can be done to avoid the misuse of these technologies?

Discussion B

·         Why is a person’s privacy important?
·         Should a person give up his privacy to help the government keep peace?


April 24, 2012