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Will the Snooper's Charter Know Your Porn Habits?

Everyone has something to hide

The Draft Communications Bill, better known as the “Snooper’s Charter“, is a sweeping new investigatory powers bill proposed by the current British Government. The bill could conceivably find out all about you, including when and how you watch porn.

The British Government makes my job too easy. The articles mostly just write themselves at this point, I only need to translate that to print. If it isn’t ridiculous laws on porn usage (which the EU says is bogus ), it’s a ban on sex itself . Nobody is safe at this point, there’s even an opportunity for the government to upset the gay community by banning poppers . The best way to sum up the situation is to take a look at another piece of legislation, the Psychoactive Substances Bill. This was enacted in Ireland, and has failed miserably so far, but that rarely stops our inept leaders. So inept in fact, that the man who was made a fool of on live television for his total lack of drug education is now in charge of the bill. It says it all.


The Snooper’s Charter itself is another study into the damage the uneducated can achieve. The bulk of the bill, published this week , is aimed at curbing the elusive “terrorist” in his tracks. According to the bill, the Government is seeking to circumvent encryption and store everyone’s data for a year in order to stop crime. Anyone working in tech will already understand why that’s a bad idea based on encryption alone, but worryingly some people are in favour of the move. “I have nothing to hide ,” they’ll tell you, usually following that up with, “so I have nothing to fear.” Well I’m here today to tell you that you really do have something to hide, and everything to fear. People who are unaware of how technology works, like the British Government, are missing the fundamental aspects of this bill, among others. A broad brush cannot possibly be expected to work efficiently or effectively, and David Cameron has been told there will be “unintentional consequences” to all of his big bills.

The biggest factor in this and what really shows everyone has something to hide is; you look at porn. Humans are inherently sexual beings, we are one of the few species on the planet who do it just for fun. If someone is telling you they don’t watch porn, they’re probably not letting on the whole truth. Do you speak about your niche sexual interests at parties? At work? You have something to hide then, don’t you? Would you walk down to your local police station with an invoice for one box of extra-small condoms, purchased from Tesco? That’s doubtful, so why would you be okay with that if it were bought through Amazon? That’s essentially what you are allowing. The IP data showing that you accessed Amazon, the metadata you input to the website, the confirmation email you received. If you were to purchase those condoms at the store, all you would need to do is burn the receipt if you didn’t want anyone to know. If you bought them online, your purchase history along with their email confirmations would be stored for a year without your consent.


To add to that, it’s not just the government who will be privy to that information. There’s a long list of those who could theoretically access your data, often times without a warrant. Maybe your local council has a problem with you because you leave your Christmas lights up too long and it annoys everyone. They now have access to all your kinky browsing habits, your emails, your search history, etc. Do you have anyone who doesn’t like you? Talk Talk was recently breached, losing around 1.2 million customer emails, addresses, names and phone numbers. This also included the credit card details and dates of birth of a lesser portion, but that still accounted for 20,000 people. You can do a lot with just an email address; now consider you lost your address, name, phone number, bank details and D.O.B. too. If you were a Talk Talk customer and have a stalker, they could learn a lot about you. Now imagine this on the scale of an entire country.

The question isn’t really will the Snooper’s Charter know your porn habits, it’s how it will use that information. Even if you are quite happy with police knowing you only browse perfectly heterosexual procreational porn, it doesn’t just extend to them. One of the initial points made, is that the bill wants to ban encryption. It wants to introduce mandatory back doors into all secure software. A back door, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a deliberate fault that’s introduced to software for someone with permission to access. A literal back door, allowing agents to go in around the back where nobody else will think to look. The problem is, everyone looks there – and they’re looking all the time. Would you let strange men in through your back door? Well, maybe you would.


The US Government blocks thousands of hacking attempts every day . Hackers constantly probe for weaknesses in servers, looking for any open attack vector that’s available. They found Heartbleed , they found the Bash Shellshock bug (everything uses Bash), and they’ll find the backdoor in WhatsApp. If the Snooper’s Charter falls into place, your data is now all in one location, with a single point of failure. Every piece of pornographic material you’ve viewed in the last year is leaked, along with your personal portfolio. Maybe you accidentally clicked on a ladyboy video and you’re vehemently homophobic – who will the people believe? Cold hard data, or you? The people on Ashley Madison probably didn’t think they had much to hide, they were told their data was secure too so what would they be worried about?

Maybe you really do think it’s fine for the government, your local council and a thief to know what porn you’ve viewed. You really don’t care, nothing you do is that unusual or if it is, you’re very comfortable with your sexuality. What about someone else’s porn habits? Would you feel the same if you shared your connection with someone you didn’t know? A connection in your own name, linked to your IP address? Imagine the world without encryption, that includes your router since authorities may need to access it. An intentional flaw is introduced, one that the police are given the information on how to use. Before long, the door is discovered and your firmware is compromised. A neighbouring tenant doesn’t want to be caught looking at lolicon, so he decides he’ll use the flaw to access your router. Before you know it, your data is being brought up for investigation, and all the police have to go on is that your connection accessed this material. You have no proof that your router was illegally accessed, and there’s no evidence of an attack since the backdoor was used. You’re fucked.


Humans have an instinctual need for privacy. It’s a part of who we are, and it’s the reason why we go to the bathroom and lock the door, it’s the reason we don’t all masturbate in public (okay, maybe some people do). For some reason, people think that because it’s the internet, it’s not really the same. Maybe you remember the shame of being found out by your parents, when they checked the internet history for the first time. What you looked at was innocuous, but did you feel a sense of embarrassment? Everyone did and probably still would, even as an adult. Male or female, old or young, your porn habits are your own private affair.

Everyone has something to hide, anyone who says otherwise is being disingenuous or is afraid to the point of compromising their own freedom. I would invite anyone still adamant about their support for the bill to compose a short document, listing all their personal information, and post it on the internet. Address, name, phone number and all the things you don’t have to hide. Next, write a script in your language of choice to hook into your browser and publish each site you visit – as well as any relevant search terms you might use. Please put porn sites in bold so they’re easy to pick out. After all, you have nothing to hide, right?


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