The Snoopers’ Charter: A government invasion?

During coalition we blocked the Snoopers Charter. The bill, resurrected under the name of the Investigatory Powers Bill, shows the intent of the Tory Government – to degrade all forms of privacy we once held dear.

This new Bill isn’t much different than the old one. It gives the police the power to indiscriminately record internet connection data, tap phone calls and scariest of all – give the security services the power to hack all electronic devices we own. The Bill has been marketed to MPs and the wider public as a necessity to public safety, but in reality it is nothing more than a draconian measure to curb our civil liberties in a move akin to the Stasi in East Germany.

It’s not only civil rights groups who are concerned, it’s the tech community too. Questions are being raised about the bill as to whether or not it’s actually possible to implement. Part the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill legally requires Internet service providers (ISPs) to archive connections a device makes to the internet and hold that data for a minimum of a year. What Theresa May needs to understand is that this is a lot of data. Nobody for certain can put a finger on just how much data that is but one thing is for certain; Cataloguing it will be a wonder of the computing world.

Let’s assume that the government has successfully completed their task of cataloguing my connections to a youtube server containing the cat video I wanted to watch – along with the 10 million others who watched the video in the UK. What now? How can the security services decide which data is useful in the fight against terrorism, and which data is a product of procrastination? This isn’t a new problem, just ask the United States National Security Agency. They have too much untargeted data for any of it to be useful, only leading to their counter terrorism operations to be more inefficient and less cost effective.

Overall, it’s clear we need to think very hard as a country. Do we decide to sacrifice our privacy to a Tory government who seems hell bent on intruding into our personal lives? Or do we simply say no.

* Elliott Motson is Gateshead Lib Dems Campaign Support Officer. As well as VC of LY North East and VC of Middlesbrough and East Cleveland.

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5 Comments

  • nigel hunter 5th Mar '16 - 11:57am

    It reminds me of the FBI tussle with Apple. Open the door slightly and it is not long before it is completely open. This bill should be put in the bin.

  • This new Bill isn’t much different than the old one.

    From what Elliott has written, I doubt he has actually read either the Draft IPB (released 4-Nov-2015) or the First reading version (introduced to the house on the 1-Mar-2016).

    For those interested the full text of the bill before Parliament may be found here:
    http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/investigatorypowers.html

    and the Draft IPB here:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-investigatory-powers-bill

    What is concerning is that the bill introduced to Parliament hasn’t take much notice of the various committee reports on the Draft IPB. Suspect this is most probably because the government is in a hurry to get the legislation on the book before the end of 2016 when various powers will lapse if not renewed. This speed is concerning because it will limit considered examination and debate and may well mean the final Act will need further revision – through the use of undemocratic Statutory Instruments…

  • AC Trussell 6th Mar '16 - 3:27pm

    I have heard that it will not just be the web-sites you have visited, but ALL the data; that is content of e-mails – everything! That is because; should you become suspect they can then use it. And so can any hacker……..!

  • @AC Trussell – I heard that pigs can fly, I personally don’t believe it until I can see it with my own eyes. I suggest you would be well advised to do likewise and read the published information on the IPB…

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