Bollocks?: The Investigatory Powers Bill AKA the Snooper’s Charter

big-brother

As if 2016 hasn’t been enough of a kick to the balls/ovaries, it seems there’s still at least one more kick coming our way, at least to those of us who live in the UK. A new law called The Investigatory Powers Bill was all but passed this week and it allows any Government branch to see your entire internet history, regardless of whether you’ve done anything to warrant suspicion. It gets worse, the media and Government are exempt from the law. So they can see what we’re Googling, but we don’t get to look at theirs.

When passed, the bill will force all internet providers to to keep a full list of Internet Connection Records (ICRs) for at least a year and they must supply these to the Government if asked. The bill is being passed in an effort to catch terrorists ad other illegal activities that occur on the web. I’m all for stopping that sort of thing, but this strikes me as a massive invasion of privacy and allows the Government to monitor everyone. What happens if the Government doesn’t have our best interests at heart? How easy would this make it for people to be blackmailed or framed?

Former MP and lecturer at the University of Cambridge Julian Huppert wrote it much more eloquently than I ever could. On OpenDemocracy, he wrote:

“Some of the powers in the Bill are deeply intrusive, and with very little possible justification. All of us want to be safe, and protected from terrorists and the like – but the evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. However, the cost to all of our privacy is huge.”

Not only is this bill a massive invasion of privacy, but it’s also a security risk. A backdoor open for the Government will be accessibly to hackers. As Nic Scott, managing director of data security specialists Code42, told ComputerWorldUK:

“You either have encryption in place or you don’t. Once you create a backdoor for law enforcement purposes, you are also opening the door to other, potentially malicious, parties.”

The full list of agencies that will be able to moniter your online activity is as follows:

Metropolitan police force

City of London police force

Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996

Police Service of Scotland

Police Service of Northern Ireland

British Transport Police

Ministry of Defence Police

Royal Navy Police

Royal Military Police

Royal Air Force Police

Security Service

Secret Intelligence Service

GCHQ

Ministry of Defence

Department of Health

Home Office

Ministry of Justice

National Crime Agency

HM Revenue & Customs

Department for Transport

Department for Work and Pensions

NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services

Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service

Competition and Markets Authority

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Department for Communities in Northern Ireland

Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland

Department of Justice in Northern Ireland

Financial Conduct Authority

Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004

Food Standards Agency

Food Standards Scotland

Gambling Commission

Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

Health and Safety Executive

Independent Police Complaints Commissioner

Information Commissioner

NHS Business Services Authority

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board

Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation

Office of Communications

Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Police Investigations and Review Commissioner

Scottish Ambulance Service Board

Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission

Serious Fraud Office

Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

This bill has been likened to laws passed in China, Turkey, Russia, and Egypt. Though the bill is almost passed, it’s not too late to voice your concerns. A PETITION can be signed here and has already racked up over 100,000 signatures.

To my mind, this bill is the same as the police searching through your house without any cause for suspicion. Some of you may argue that there’s nothing to worry about if you’ve nothing to hide, but isn’t that what dictators also say to the people who they oppress? How easy will it now be for corrupt Government employees to spy on their friends and family? This will undermine the integrity of a journalist’s right to privacy with his/her sources and the right of a source to have anonymity. It also undermines the very idea of a ‘free press’. I know that I might sound like a conspiracy nut, but I truly think this is an issue that people should at least be aware of.

Saying you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Again, the PETITION CAN BE SIGNED HERE.

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