The first global repercussions of the US/UK internet spying scandal have emerged with a plan by the Malaysian government to radically step up internet monitoring – in the name of fighting corruption as the cover.
Paul Low, the official in charge of fighting corruption in the South-East Asian country, has told Bloomberg that the country will soon be resorting to phone tapping and wider internet monitoring in a bid to combat corruption.
The government is already in the planning stage of new laws that would empower the government to embark on widespread web snooping, he told Bloomberg. “Does Malaysia want to be a failed state or does it want to rise up?” Low asked rhetorically.
However, with the debate cast in such terms, the public might expect the government to turn its surveillance apparatus on figures in public life widely suspected of corruption – rather than them.
“What the public is expecting them to do is to go after the major perpetrators that are generally publicly known but protected due to politics or so on,” Ibrahim Suffian an official at the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, told Bloomberg.
While mass surveillance tools are widely available around the world and deployed in many states, the revelation about the mass internet tapping perpetrated by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ – which is almost all-encompassing – will encourage governments across the world to do the same.
The internet spying activities of the US and UK were sensationally exposed when whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contractor at the US National Security Agency, disclosed a trove of thousands of documents to The Guardian newspaper in mid-July.
Snowden went on the run following the disclosures and has sought asylum in Russia to avoid an inevitable jail sentence running in to several decades under US justice.