The Parliament of the United Kingdom has passed a law allowing new sweeping powers to officials concerned with cyber-surveillance. This new law, which has been dubbed the most extensive of its kind in the entire world, will allow authorities to collect the web traffic and telephone data of all citizens in the United Kingdom, not merely those who are suspected of committing serious crimes.
The UK passes the most invasive cyber-surveillance bill in history Various attempts were made to pass this bill, known as the Investigatory Powers Bill, in the course of the last Parliament. However, the Conservative Party were in coalition with the smaller Liberal Democrat Party at that time who consistently refused to give their backing to the bill which they termed ‘the Snooper’s Charter.’
One particularly powerful supporter of the bill in the course of the last parliament was the Home Secretary, Theresa May. Now she is the Prime Minister, and her party is no longer hampered by an official coalition she has seized the opportunity to pass the bill in its full and most extensive form. The law passed yesterday by both UK legislative houses the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and it is expected to be put into law by Royal Assent by the end of the year.
Ironically enough, the new law stems from the public controversy surrounding the pre-existing cyber-surveillance law RIPA which had allowed the spy network GCHQ to collect bulk data on its citizens. This was one of the secret operations exposed by Edward Snowden. The public was outraged at the extent of data collection and demanded reform. However, this is probably not the reform anyone was hoping for as the new law is even more invasive than the old one which stirred so much public upset.
Under the IP Bill, internet service providers must log every user’s web browsing history for one year. This information will be available to the police, security services, and other law enforcement agencies. If that were not invasive enough, police and law enforcement agencies would be permitted to hack into citizen’s communication devices.
Here is just a small list of all the new surveillance regulation included in the IP Bill’s approved version:
• Internet Service Providers must log every user’s web browsing history for a year.
• Police and other law enforcement agencies can access this data through a specialized interface and search for suspects or general profiles.
• Security services can access and analyze public and private databases.
• Government agencies can still collect communications data in bulk, just like through RIPA.
• Police and other law enforcement agencies can, under certain circumstances, hack into users’ devices.
• Communications operators must remove their side of encryption and help state agencies access data or devices.
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