Everyday Computing, Features, Technology

Confidential Conversation Caught

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

AS we celebrate Police Week 2014 in Saint Lucia, it is worth remembering the role of Information and Communication Technologies in the administration of policing, law and order.

Many of us go about our daily lives barely taking notice of the underlying fabric of the communications technology that we use. Across the globe, we are more connected with each other each and every day. We check emails, we have telephone conversations, and we send instant messages to each other.

There is an important class of communication that ought to be respected by all, otherwise our very social fabric is placed at risk.

Imagine the nightmare scenario if we could no longer expect secrecy, or trust the sanctity of the communication between a person and their:
* priest or other religious figure;
* medical doctor;
* legal attorney;
*other confidential service provider (counsellor, therapist, etc).

Recent developments overseas show that not even privileged client-attorney communications are safe from snooping.

In the United Kingdom, lawyers are definitely not above the law. Now, even their confidential communications with their client are able to be spied upon, in the search for enemies of the state, terrorists, and other ne’er-do-wells.

It is an unfortunate coincidence that in the same week that we learn of the impending purchase of Columbus by the Cable and Wireless, we learn of the ability of spies to access secret communications.

Arguably, we are not important or relevant enough to be a likely target of such spying powers, but the permission to conduct spying ought to be a concern in general. Whether you are a lowly student just phoning home, or you are a high-level official conducting sensitive negotiations.

Those who trade in secrets or who rely on secrecy with clients should probably consider what the impact of this is likely to be.

When well-used, ICT is a joy. When poorly used, or abused, it becomes a potential threat.

Where do you stand on this issue?

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