Nearly half of the British public, and 8% more than a year ago, believe that the security services have access to almost everything about us
An EU directive that required phone and internet companies to keep information about individuals’ web browsing, email and social media activity, but not the content itself, was struck down by the European Court in April on the grounds that it infringed human rights. Subsequently, the government has begun ‘rushing through’ emergency legislation to maintain powers to record such data.
A new YouGov survey finds that, even after being told that proposed new laws would only allow security services to access 'metadata' – the information about citizens’ communications but not the communication itself – almost half (47%) of the British public believe those services have access to almost everything about us.
The issue of government surveillance has been in the public spotlight since the NSA revelations were made last June, detailing US and UK government surveillance practices. A YouGov survey conducted shortly after the initial reports found that 39% of British people thought security services had access to almost everything about us; now that figure has risen by 8%.
However, despite these beliefs about the extent of data collection, British people do not decisively think that laws allowing the collection of metadata are a bad thing. 47% think that the proposal is either a good idea given the way technology is evolving (38%) or that it actually does not go far enough and should allow allow access to the content of communications (9%). 42% think the law would go too far and undermine our right to privacy.