Investigatory Powers Bill

The UK's new and powerful invasive Investigatory Powers Act 2016 received royal assent Tues despite over 100,000 people petitioning against it. The bill requires that "records of every website and messaging service UK-based citizens visit from any device will be retained for a year by communications companies." This is unprecedented control of personal information of UK citizens without a warrant by communications companies (which security forces and related government units-prisons and certain health units- will be able to access and use). It is one of the most invasive, powerful online surveillance laws in a democracy. Right now the bill states it documents where you go and who you communicate with, not the content of your communication (do we believe that?). Opponents see it as undermining civil and privacy rights. Proponents see it as a way to combat terrorists and other criminals who use the internet to plan, purchase, sell and communicate.  Communication companies will have to keep a log of which sites and apps each person visits/uses online. There will be no independent monitoring body to verify what surveillance is occurring, which is another huge concern. Much of the bill's purpose is to provide legal support for current surveillance by government security forces to convict online criminals. A panel of justices will have to approve requests to hack into a suspected criminal's phone or computer, device or network without notifying the suspect. The bill will begin to take effect in 2017.   Read more about it here and  and

This act immediately reminds me of the Patriot Act, which has far reaching tendrils aiming to fight terrorism and criminals, but which has been more broadly applied, which we know about thanks to Snowden. See a synopsis of the Patriot Act here ( including its history and cases in which it has been inappropriately applied against average citizens who are not terrorists. Obviously abuses of power can occur and  since 9/11 we are in a period of great change, fear, and unprecedented international and online terrorism. I support a greater need for security and for protection against terrorists balanced with careful concern for the privacy rights of the rest of us.



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