UK ministers are trying to rush through a new bill in parliament that if passed will strengthen the already over intrusive Investigatory Powers Act. The act, also known as the ‘Snoopers’ Charter which came into effect in 2016 allows State authorities to collect information about everything we do and say online and order private companies to store it.
The Act grants wide-ranging powers to “scoop up” and store all of our emails, texts, calls, location data and internet history, they can also hack into our phones and computers and create large ‘personal datasets’ on us – all without needing to suspect us of any criminal wrongdoing.
And they can do it in ‘bulk’, meaning to huge numbers of us at any one time according to Liberty the Human Rights Group who say that the information agencies can get their hands on paints an incredibly detailed picture of who we are, who we talk to, where we go and what we think.
It can reveal our health concerns, political views, religious beliefs, relationships and all of our movements – leaving nothing private. And by storing all the information in ‘personal datasets’ or hacking our devices and leaving them permanently damaged, they are putting our most sensitive personal data at risk of attack from others. Source.
The U.K. already has some of the most far-reaching surveillance laws in the democratic world. Now it’s rushing to beef them up even further — and tech firms are spooked, but, now, despite the protestations of industry and campaigners, ministers are whisking a new bill through parliament, writes Laurie Clarke of Politico and continues in the article below.
Britain’s got some of Europe’s toughest surveillance laws. Now it wants more
Britain’s government wants to build on its landmark Investigatory Powers Act, a controversial piece of legislation dubbed the “snooper’s charter” by critics when introduced back in 2016.
That law — introduced in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass state surveillance — attempted to introduce more accountability into the U.K. intelligence agencies’ sprawling snooping regime by formalizing wide-ranging powers to intercept emails, texts, web history and more.
Now new legislation is triggering a fresh outcry among both industry execs and privacy campaigners — who say it could hobble efforts to protect user privacy.
Industry body TechUK has written to Home Secretary James Cleverly airing its complaints. The group’s letter warns that the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill threatens technological innovation; undermines the sovereignty of other nations; and could unleash dire consequences if it sets off a domino effect overseas.
Tech companies are most concerned by a change that would allow the Home Office to issue notices preventing them from making technical updates that might impede information-sharing with U.K. intelligence agencies.
TechUK argues that, combined with pre-existing powers, the changes would “grant a de facto power to indefinitely veto companies from making changes to their products and services offered in the U.K.”
“Using this power, the government could prevent the implementation of new end-to-end encryption, or stop developers from patching vulnerabilities in code that the government or their partners would like to exploit,” Meredith Whittaker, president of secure messaging app Signal, told POLITICO when the bill was first unveiled.
The Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, remains adamant it’s a technical and procedural set of tweaks. Home Office Minister Andrew Sharpe said at the bill’s committee stage in the House of Lords that the law was “not going to … ban end-to-end encryption or introduce a veto power for the secretary of state … contrary to what some are incorrectly speculating.”
“We have always been clear that we support technological innovation and private and secure communications technologies, including end-to-end encryption,” a government spokesperson said. “But this cannot come at a cost to public safety, and it is critical that decisions are taken by those with democratic accountability.”