The UK unveiled on Wednesday a draft bill to expand the government’s spy powers that privacy watchdogs are decrying as a further step towards becoming a surveillance state.
“[T]his long-awaited Bill constitutes a breath-taking attack on the internet security of every man, woman and child in our country,” stated Shami Chakrabarti, Director of the UK-based rights group Liberty.
Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the draft Investigatory Powers Bill and called it “unprecedented.”
“It will provide unparalleled openness and transparency about our investigatory powers. It will provide the strongest safeguards and world-leading oversight arrangements. And it will give the men and women of our security and intelligence agencies and our law enforcement agencies—who do so much to keep us safe and secure—the powers they need to protect our country,” she said.
But critics say the proposed legislation provides neither adequate privacy safeguards nor sufficient judicial authorization for warrants.
As the Guardian reports, the legislation requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep a record of every website every citizen has used for up to a year. It also “[m]akes explicit in law for the first time security services’ powers for the ‘bulk collection’ of large volumes of personal communications data,” and it has a “[n]ew ‘double-lock’ on ministerial authorization of intercept warrants with panel of seven judicial commissioners given power of veto. But exemptions allowed in ‘urgent cases’ of up to five days.”
Glyn Moody adds at Ars Technica UK:
“By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.”
—Tweet from Edward SnowdenLiberty’s take is that “[f]ar from attempting to create a more targeted and effective system, the Bill places the broad mass surveillance powers revealed by Edward Snowden on a statutory footing, including mass interception, mass acquisition of communications data, mass hacking and retention of databases on huge swathes of the population.”
Alice Wyss, UK Researcher at Amnesty International, said that while it was good that “proper parliamentary and public scrutiny [were] finally” being given to the surveillance system, “[w]ider snooping powers will take the UK closer to becoming a surveillance state.”
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT